The base for driving your website to success

The base for driving your website to success
The base for driving your website to success

One of the most critical breakdowns I see most often in website architecture is websites with poor navigation. On a pure usability level, navigation has one job, help visitors obtain the information they need. But in reality, there is much more going on under the hood that makes website navigation succeed or fail. Navigation performs a role in usability, findability, search indexing, internal link optimization, and content optimization. Navigation provides a framework for a site’s structure and contributes to both user and search-friendliness. Get your navigation wrong, and you’ll find an otherwise stellar-looking website doing poorly on many key success metrics. Get it right, and you have the foundation for building a high-performance website on all levels.

1- Building an efficient navigational construction

For navigation, what is efficient for one website may not be helpful for another. Each website is unique and will have unique navigational features. Here are some questions to consider:

- Where should your navigation be on the page?
- What knowledge needs to be presented in the global navigation?
- How many categories or sub-categories should you incorporate?
- Should you use drop-down or fly-out menus?
- If space is limited, what navigation things do you include or exclude?

How these questions get answered often starts with getting the two types of navigation links, customer-focused or company-focused links.

2-  Customer-focused navigation

If you worry about sales and conversions, you need to rank your navigation on what your customers want. Unfortunately, most websites center on the company navigation items, and the customers get the short straw. This is the opposite of what your navigation should be. One of the first questions I ask when performing a website audit is if the visitor saw nothing more than the navigation part of the website, would they understand if the website will please their needs? If your products or services are hidden under a single link item labeled shop or services, then the answer is likely no. Look at the two navigations below. Which one tells you immediately what the company offers? Both companies are manufacturers, but one makes that clear through their navigation, and the visitor doesn’t have to search, read content, or click to know it! You can get the argument that the visitor should see if they typed in your URL or clicked the link from Google, but why speculate? Why keep your visitors guessing when you can provide the information and the connections between what they want without limiting them to hunt for it? But what about contact us and about us links? Those are important too, right? Yes, but not as important. Visitors are involved in looking at those or other company-focused pages once they get further into buying. Those pages support the sale, but you have to show them what they want first.

3- Company concentrated navigation

The second maritime focus is to provide links that point visitors to information about your company. These navigational elements are essential but are secondary to the customer navigation items. They should be segmented visually as well. We can make these less prominent or hidden behind a hamburger menu but still easily accessible. You can see in the KTC example that they have their company-focused navigation above the customer. Now, that’s still too loud for my liking, but the segmentation still works. Here is another website that puts the customer nav first but offers the company nav less obtrusive, https://www.nwldg.com. All the critical items are there and easily findable, but secondary to the products that visitors want. This allows visitors to find and click those pages when they want them easily, but they are out of the way until the visitor is ready for them. While your company-focused links might vary, here are some pretty much universal navigation links that should be visible:

– Logo link: You can add a separate home link if you like but always be sure the logo links to the home page.
– About Us: This can be an essential page for those deciding who they want to do business with.
– Contact Link: Don’t make visitors hunt for a way to get in touch with you.
– Phone Number: While phone calls are often not preferred by the business, sometimes they are chosen by the customer. Without it, you risk losing them.
– Search Bar: Provide a way to search for your products or information.
– Checkout or Cart: Much like a contact link, you want visitors to get to their cart and check out quickly.

There are some exceptions to these options above, and those typically fall into the lines of the size of your business. Certain well-known brands don’t need About Us links and don’t need people to contact them quickly. When you have more business than you know what to do with, you can afford to move those links to your footer or remove them altogether. But when you’re looking for every new customer you can get, consider carefully before you do.

4- Ecommerce navigation problems

The challenges for an e-commerce website expand the importance of establishing straightforward and proper navigation for the website. Your navigation is not to improve your visitors get the content they need, but to ensure the search engines can better find and index pages so they can be found in search. While top-level navigation is essential in e-commerce websites, other navigational options can be equally, if not more important overall.

5- Linked Focus

One of the best chances to get more products in front of your audience is attaching links to products related to the one a customer is viewing. These can be as:

– Similar products
– Add-ons or accessories
– Popular items
– Recently viewed products

Any or all these options offer a way for you to develop the average visitor order while throwing extra link equity toward other pages. Amazon does a great job of providing more products. In my search for 12 Monkeys, the single most fantastic sci-fi show in existence!, Amazon offers additional products that customers viewed and bought:

A- Add to cart purposes not links

This is scarcer of a problem today than a few years ago, but some solutions and systems use natural links to add products to carts or checkout. This creates many issues with search engines pursuing links and adding products to a cart. This type of functionality shouldn’t be limited to cart links. The same applies to links for writing product reviews, adding a product to a wishlist, printable links, product comparisons, adding comments or reviews, or any other link that serves as a function rather than leading the visitor to another page of content you would want showing up in search results.

B- Filters versus pages

One of the tests with an e-commerce website is determining when to have links to pages and when a filter will suffice. Let’s suppose you have an apartment finder website, and you want visitors to be able to operate their way to results that fit their living criteria. Someone may wish to a furnished, three-bedroom, pet-friendly apartment with a pool, washer and dryer, gym, has utilities included, and comes with a covered parking space. Some of those options will work fine as filters. All of them can be filters, but you know that some of those can move for great optimized landing pages when it comes to good SEO. So which is which? I think it all comes down to keyword research. If a significant number of people are searching for three-bedroom apartments in Denver, then it warrants a page with content and a listing of those apartments. My gut tells me not many are exploring for a pool, utilities, or a washer or dryer. If that’s the case, go with filters but if there is any level of search volume that you want to capture, go with landing pages and use filters on the website to drive people to the pages with the content they need.

6- Other navigational requirements

Her is some idea that you can use to have a best website navigation:

A- Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are the medium website’s equal to Google’s I’m Feeling Lucky button. Breadcrumbs are the average website’s similar to Google’s I’m Feeling Lucky button. It’s used by about 1 percent of searchers, but a vast majority don’t require it to disappear. Aside from being a tremendous navigational tool that can encourage visitors and search engines to navigate a website quickly, they are most commonly used as a visual aid. Breadcrumbs provide the at-a-glance sign that lets your visitors see where they are on your website, and if necessary, they can quickly operate a couple of steps back. Despite their lack of actual use, breadcrumbs are a powerful SEO tool. When your breadcrumbs align textually with your main navigation and URLs, Google and those other search engines will use that as an enhanced signal for learning a page and what it should rank for. Plus, when Google displays the URL in search results, they are more likely to show the more reader-friendly version rather than a less-than-readable URL. Finally, breadcrumbs help search engines better understand your website hierarchy. It’s best when this is a reinforcement of how you already have your navigation laid out, but on the opening that the navigation can’t be hierarchically accurate, the breadcrumbs can fill in the blanks.

B- Keywords in the link subject

Navigation is one of the most convenient places to get your keywords into links. After all, if you’re presenting a link to your Coat Racks page, you will not put that thing you hang your coats on in your navigation, but your navigation isn’t the way to boost visitors’ navigate your website. Content-based links provide an excellent opportunity to allow visitors to move from one page to the next based on what they are reading and what interests them. When adding these content-based links, the need to practice keywords still applies. Instead of clicking here to learn more about preparing personal tax returns, a better way to tie would be to know more about preparing individual tax returns. If you want to keep the call to action as part of the link and there is no reason not to make it work, you would write this, click here to study more about preparing personal tax returns. This creates a clickable call to action using keywords, but this helps prevent over-optimization of your link text by linking with your keywords. Search engines are pretty good about sniffing that out.

C- Similar topics

Like linking to related products with your e-commerce website, almost any website can serve by linking to related topics on their blog. At the end of your post, present a few related links that visitors might want to click through to.

D- HTML links

Unless you’re intentionally trying to block content from search engines, you want to make sure your links are crawlable. Search engines have gone pretty good about following all kinds of non-HTML links, but they are not perfect. So you can get away with using those kinds of links, but it’s never ideal and opens up the possibility that Google either won’t follow it or won’t weigh the link correctly. Another common way to tie that isn’t so great is to use selection forms or require the visitor to enter a password to view the content. Primarily, any content hidden behind these walls will have a more challenging time getting indexed. This may be the intent, but make sure it is.

There is no way to overemphasize the importance of your website’s navigation to your overall optimization efforts. If your navigation is broken, your SEO is broken. Of course, punishing your navigation won’t fix all your optimization issues, but for most websites, this is the best place to move toward a search engine-friendly website that, at the very least, has the potential to perform in search.

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nwldg: The base for driving your website to success
The base for driving your website to success
One of the most critical breakdowns I see most often in website architecture is websites with poor navigation. On a pure usability level, navigation h
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