How to Improve Your Website Navigation: 7 Essential Best Practices

Website Navigation

Written by Jeremy Earle, JD

March 18, 2022

7 Essential Best Practices for Improving Your Website’s Navigation

Your website’s navigation should follow these best practices to guarantee that visitors and search engines can easily access your information.

When done correctly, website navigation benefits your visitors and your search engine rankings.

Your visitors and search engines will both benefit from a well-organized website. Increased conversions and improved search engine rankings are the outcomes.

The question is, though, how exactly do you go about doing it? Navigating websites is made more accessible with the help of some recommended practices.

What Is the Purpose of a Navigational System on a Website?

Internal link architecture (also known as website navigation) refers to the connections that connect your pages on your website.

Making it simple for visitors to locate what they’re looking for is at the heart of good website navigation.

Search engines discover and index new pages using your website’s navigation. SEOs benefit from links since they allow search engines to learn more about a page’s content and context.

Customers come first.

It would help if you constantly kept this in mind while navigating a website.

First and foremost, put the needs of customers first. Make it simple to find your way around. Then, optimize for search engines while ensuring that the user experience isn’t harmed.

To learn more about how to navigate a website, check out these SEJ articles:

Structure of internal links Corey Morris’s SEO Tips and Tricks

“Internal Content Linking: Julia McCoy’s Essential Guide”

Internal linking may be problematic for both your website’s users and search engines, which is why the rest of this essay will concentrate on best practices in website navigation.

Anyone developing significant websites will find this material very useful and exciting.

Content Hierarchies & Website Navigation

To find a specific page in a book, you may use the table of contents or the index to find it.

When you’re at the grocery store, you’ll notice that the aisles are labeled with main department headings, and the shelves themselves have further subcategories mentioned.

They both make it easier to sift through a large amount of information.

Using content hierarchies makes finding specific pieces of material much more accessible. A few major categories into which a large body of information may be divided.

You may further subdivide these broad categories into more specific subcategories, resulting in a hierarchy of classifications that is easier for visitors to browse.

Using content hierarchies, a website’s pages are organized such that both the user and the search engine can understand them.

Content Hierarchies and Website Navigation are critical.

It is essential to categorize and sub-categorize your content to increase your page’s search engine rankings.

Content Hierarchies Create Issues

Material silos, or groupings of closely related subjects, are created by categorizing content and establishing hierarchies. Varying websites will be crawled at different speeds by Google, following connections from other sites.

Others have a more significant following than others. As a consequence of receiving more inbound links and visitors from other websites, these pages might rank in search engine results pages organically.

Even if your other content silos perform well, they may underperform if your material is excessively compartmentalized and doesn’t attract connections and traffic.

Hierarchies of the content may separate famous page clusters from the rest of the site if buried too deep.

Horizontal connection comes into play in this situation.

The absence of cross-linking across content silos might harm your overall search engine results.

There are many methods to do it when it comes to horizontally connecting categories. Simply being part of the same website suggests that these sites aren’t wholly unrelated…

Content Categories should be linked to each other.

Content should be organized to create user-friendly category hierarchies, with links leading up and down the hierarchy. The vast majority of them go to this page.

Cross-link pages that fall under several headings yet share specific characteristics.

Product-to-content marketing hyperlinks

Companies that offer more than one product or service will categorize the pages, create content silos, and connect them all as described above.

Then then, many SEO and content teams develop engaging and shareable items. If you have a blog, you may see this in the form of links to particular items or services.

Product pages benefit from blog postings since they draw in more visitors. But the product pages on many websites are not linked back to the blog pages.

Your SEO performance will improve, and your product or service will be more known if you employ horizontal linking of this kind.

Product and Content Pages should be linked to one other.

Links from product sites to complementary content marketing pages are also recommended. Blog entries, FAQs, and product manuals are all examples of this.

Using JavaScript Effects for Website Navigation

JavaScript is used on occasion to create connections and web pages. JavaScript-created internal links are problematic for search engines to find. Therefore, this is a concern.

Google’s ability to interpret JavaScript has improved over several years, but SEO experts have found that the results are still uneven.

In terms of interpreting JavaScript, other search engines are still behind. This implies that search engines may not find your internal links.

The SEO community is split on whether or not JavaScript is a viable option.

However, some search engine optimization (SEO) gurus altogether eschew JavaScript.

On the other hand, web designers and usability experts argue that JavaScript is critical to the user experience.

In my opinion, JavaScript may be utilized without causing any SEO difficulties.

Display and Hide Content on the Page through Links

JavaScript may be used to show and conceal certain items without actually altering the current page. Your whole page gets preloaded with your content when this occurs.

Even if part of your information is hidden, search engines may still crawl it. However, this only works provided the amount of material concealed is kept to a minimum; it might become troublesome if the whole page is changed, but the URL stays unchanged.

Because too much material is hidden in a single URL, it dilutes the page’s content emphasis. A separate page should be created for an unrelated subject.

Items to Consider: Links that both show and hide content.

Remove the anchor tag and replace it with a JavaScript on-click event handler for modest quantities of material.

In order to customize the cursor’s appearance, you may make use of CSS.

For single-page parallax scrolling websites with a lot of material, not all content should be loaded in advance.

Preload just the URL-related material.

Chief and onclick parameters should be included in every anchor tag.

Only the material associated with this new URL is preloaded when using this href value as a link.

The onclick function will prevent the new URL from loading, but the content from the target URL will be able to be accessed.

Even if the requested page does not load, you may still use the pushState method to change the URL.

In a presentation at seoClarity in 2016, a more in-depth explanation of how this might be used on websites is nicely detailed.

SEO challenges and solutions for JavaScript framework AngularJS are addressed in this article. However, these principles may be applied to any JavaScript framework.

Making Use of URL Tracking Parameters

Usability and conversion professionals employ several methods to monitor user behavior. Using tracking parameters in URLs on the site is sometimes necessary.

This creates a problem of duplicating material since it links to URLs with the same information. There are several methods to handle this.

Tracking URL Parameters: Action Items

The URL should not include any tracking parameters. Instead, use JavaScript tracking on click event handlers on links that will send the same tracking parameters to monitor them. Google Analytics event monitoring may be used to do this.

Use a self-referencing canonical tag wherever possible to prevent several types of content duplication.

Priority is given to the first link in the chain.

If a web page has more than one link to the same URL, search engines are thought to evaluate just the first link and overlook the second link.

Several individuals, including Rand Fishkin and myself, have tried this in 2008 and discussed it on forums.

Some things to keep in mind:

Ex-Google spam team chief Matt Cutts declared in 2014 that this is no longer a problem. Neither I nor any other SEO specialists have lately tested this.

HTML 4.1 was the most recent version, while XHTML 1.1 was on the rise, and HTML 5 had not yet been developed. In the present day, HTML 5 includes tags such as “header”, “article”, and “sidebar” (to name a few). It’s possible that Google will now consider links in the header, sidebar, and article tags differently.

The First Link Priority SEO Problems

Prior to the main content, top and left navigation menus are frequently put into place first in the source code. Additionally, the anchor text for these menu items is generally quite brief. They’re more concerned with aesthetics than keywords.

There is a propensity to concentrate on keywords in the core text of a page, and the surrounding material tends to reinforce those keywords. This lengthier content also improves the number of keywords that a website may possibly rank for; this longer text is more versatile in length. Due to concerns with first-link priority, search engines frequently fail to see the value of these backlinks.

First Link Priority Issue: Action Items

Consider the precedence of the coding sequence. The primary content should always take precedence over the sidebars and top bars for navigation. In order to have the sidebar navigation load after the main content, you may use the float property of CSS to adjust the float direction. Absolute placement may be used to manage the top bar navigation.

Managing Large-Scale Website Navigation

The navigating of massive websites (those with tens of thousands or tens of millions of pages) may be quite difficult.

An XML sitemap may aid in indexing all pages because of the site’s natural navigation inside category menus.

The absence of cross-linking between content silos, on the other hand, might create a gulf between the web pages they contain.

Identifying all potential relationships between product pages and product marketing pages on a big site may be tough.

It’s possible that some parts of massive sites aren’t getting the link love they need.

In addition, problems with the first link priority and JavaScript might be difficult to discover across millions of pages.

Here are three ways to deal with these issues:

Assign Tasks to Various Departments

A major company’s website is likely to have a high number of people working in several areas. The website may include a number of distinct parts for various departments.

It’s important to make sure that all of the website’s parts adhere to the same SEO guidelines and practices. Then, spread out the work of improving navigation throughout the whole website.

2. Use or Create Tools

Manual operations are always made more scalable by automation. The concerns listed above may not be addressed by any existing tool until you develop your own.

Site design may be analyzed using crawling technologies such as Xenu or Screaming Frog’s DeepCrawl and Botify’s DeepCrawl.

Tools like DynoMapper and PowerMapper can be used to visualize the site’s architecture.

For example, the Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs, and Majestic link research tools may determine which pages on the site have received the most backlinks from other sites and then build cross-links from those pages to other, more essential parts of the site.

In order to determine which pages are linked to each other, we use a proprietary tool that automates this process.

Utilize a Stepped Approach

It’s rare for huge websites to have a large workforce to share the optimization effort. You may make your own tools to help with this procedure if there aren’t any available.

Consider a phased strategy if these tools don’t assist you. An optimization schedule is used to work on a single part at a time. Metrics like organic search traffic may help you prioritize your optimization efforts since it is a day-to-day activity that takes time.

The following are the most important takeaways.

To put it another way:

User experience is the most important consideration when designing a website’s navigation. The next step is to make your navigation SEO-friendly. Never skimp on the quality of the customer service you provide.

In a well-structured, hierarchical site structure, cross-linking across different sections of the site’s content is a no-brainer. It may, however, suffer from a lack of cross-linking across content silos when certain sites are simply too deep or far away from generating a substantial quantity of link juice.

If you want your goods to be read by your target audience, you need to provide high-quality material that is both useful and relevant to the blogs they read. The product page should link to the blog article in question if it is helpful in making a purchasing choice (s).

Avoid utilizing tracking parameters; instead, utilize the onClick event handler on links to monitor your visitors’ activity. Having a self-referencing canonical tag is usually a good idea.

To avoid using JavaScript to create text and links, do not use JavaScript. If you can’t avoid it, there are workarounds.

Priority is given to the first connection.

It’s best to provide the most important information first. The sidebar and top bar follow next. After that, take care of the footer. Even if further testing shows that this is still a genuine issue, using this approach will not harm.

colossal websites:

It’s difficult to do all of the aforementioned tasks with tens of thousands to tens of millions of pages. Delegate to a team, use tools to automate activities, or deal with problems one at a time.

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