When evaluating a client’s existing SEO efforts, you likely start with their website. You look at things like links, visual appeal, and mobile friendliness (to name a few). However, an element you can’t afford to overlook is navigation.
Website navigation is a crucial part of any website. If the navigation is confusing, unorganized, or missing, it is a huge problem.
For most websites, the navigation bar or menu is a collection of links placed horizontally close to the top of the site or vertically on the left of the page. In some cases, it is in the footer.
While it may seem negligible, all sites need an easy-to-follow, organized navigation menu. This is a crucial part of providing a positive user experience.
If you have ever visited a website will poor navigation, you know how frustrating it can be. While this is true, a few tips can help you update your clients’ navigation menus to ensure they provide the expected benefits.
Plan the Page Structure and Navigation
Before creating content for a website, plan how the page will be structured and how the navigation will look.
Planning is a crucial part of the process. It also provides people visiting the site with quality navigation. It is possible to use a sitemap creator to design mockups of what the website experience should be. With this, it is possible to create multiple documents. Each of these will have a different URL that can be shared to gather feedback. It is also possible to let collaborators on the project edit it.
Follow the Established Standards
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Navigating a website is all about usability. While creativity may be a factor that comes into play in other elements, it should not be a consideration regarding site navigation.
Follow the established standards for the basic elements of a navigation menu, such as where to put it.
The “hamburger” sign, which is made with three horizontal stripes, is one of the most recognized icons when it comes to identifying a menu that can be expanded. The other commonly used option is three dots that create a horizontal line.
This is not a time to get creative. Developing a custom icon for this may seem like a good idea, but most people probably won’t know what it means or how to find the menu on the page.
Use the Vocabulary That Users Do
Rather than just linking to the same pages again and again, using traditional web development language, or copy that is too creative, use language that is much closer to what users are using, searching for, and what they want.
This approach is beneficial for usability and SEO. Create pages for what users are looking for online.
After doing this, it is possible to link to the same pages using the same phrases and words that help people find the website through Google.
Create Responsive Menus
Most of the online traffic is mobile. This means that it is imperative to have a mobile-first or responsive design.
Other than menus that are out of the frame in the mobile web browser or that are too cluttered, be sure to implement mobile menus that expand.
This is now an industry standard for a reason. Creating horizontal menus with small text is difficult to read, use, and click.
There’s good news. The best themes offered by WordPress come with responsive designs and menus by default.
Use the Space in the Footer Menu
If a site visitor makes it to the bottom of the website, it means they are more engaged than most users. This can be leveraged, and the space at the bottom of the page can be used for highlighting valuable content.
Since the footer is not taking up space “above the fold,” it is possible to get granular, include several categories, and even highlight important cornerstone articles or pages.
Some examples of information to include in the footer include features pages, resources, company stories, and more. The footer is the perfect place to put content that could not be put into the header.
Separate Navigation from the Other Site Elements
Use white space, fonts, and colors to separate the menus from the sidebars and main content. Be sure it is clear where the navigation begins and ends.
It does not matter what language is used in the menus or what pages are linked to if website visitors can’t find the menu to begin with.
Avoid the Dropdown Menu
For many websites, dropdown menus are not useful or necessary. When users notice a link in a menu, they will assume it can be clicked. Unless the design works to separate it from the clickable links, it can cause confusion.
If there are too many links in the main menu, it will negatively impact the website’s usability.
Using local and hierarchical navigation rather than dropdown menus will provide a much smoother flow for users. Users can also interact with several pages and spend more time on the website rather than browsing through a huge list of different links.
Flatten the Structure
It is important to make it easy for visitors to explore all the website pages and keep a flat navigation structure. Rather than linking just a few pages from the home page and then growing it with more categories and sub-pages, keep things as simple as possible.
Improving Website Navigation Matters
As you can see, there are more than a few reasons to invest in improving and updating the website navigation for your clients. If you need help doing this, consider reaching out to our team at Outsource My SEO.
We will handle these tasks and ensure your clients get desired site results. Our white-label services will ensure that your clients get results and that you can focus on the main elements of SEO that they rely on you for. Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer.