When it comes to websites, there’s a lot of focus on website navigation and making the content understandable to the search engines. That is a priority because search engines make decisions about which sites to present to searchers. Finding a website is only part of the battle. Search engines also need to decide what the site is about, and how website content relates to a searcher’s request. Once a search engine knows about a website and what the website is about, then it can decide not only whether a website is relevant, but exactly how relevant the website content is.
Website navigation: Two for the price of one
A website’s placement in search engine results is more than important. Most searchers – and I mean more than 9 out of 10 – don’t ever go past the first page of search engine results. A search engine can turn up literally millions of results related to the searcher’s request, but the average searcher is only willing to look at the first 10 – and that’s because most search engine results pages display 10 results by default.
Website navigation – therefore – becomes very important for searchers after they’ve located your website. Why? Users aren’t willing to do a lot of digging to find information, so the easier you can make your website navigation, the more likely you are to have repeat visitors and visitors who have been referred by other users.
There are a number of ways you can improve your website navigation, including making sitewide links to the other pages on your website. This essentially allows your users to go anywhere from anywhere on your site. Use sitewide links carefully though. As website navigation tools, sitewide links are helpful. On the other hand, if your sitewide links take your users to other websites, search engines may penalize your site by lowering its search engine results placement.
You can also use a technique called “breadcrumbs” to help your users navigate around your site. Breadcrumbs leave a little, hyperlinked visual trail of the route they took to get to the page they’re on. Breadcrumbs are usually found at the top of the page and allow users to bypass the “Back” button when they’re “retracing” their steps. There are several WordPress plug-ins that will create breadcrumbs on your site pages.
Finally, consider making an HTML sitemap. In a recent post, I discussed XML sitemaps. XML sitemaps are machine readable, but humans don’t use them. An HTML sitemap, on the other hand, is human-readable, but the search engines can use it, too. There’s no harm in having both available on your site. Many search engines will prefer the XML version of a sitemap, but they can certainly digest an HTML sitemap and get good information from it. Humans sometimes also prefer a sitemap to locate their desired content.
If you would like more information about improving your website navigation or website design, please contact our Creative Director, Dave Ramsell or give Dave a call at (330) 243-0651 to set up a consultation.
Photo Credit: wagg66, via FreeImages.com