Navigation is a big part of keeping people on your website and improves the user experience a lot if it is done right. If it is a mess then not only does it put off your user, but it is also bad for your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Here are a few tips to help you improve the navigation on your website.
1 – Have at least three internal links pointing at each of your web pages
Pointing three links at every single page is a good way of making sure that each page stays well connected to the site. Arrange your internal links so three different pages link to every page you have. Some pages will get more links than others, but at least three each is a good place to start. If one of the internal links breaks down then you have two backups. It will also help to keep people on your website and will help to get your pages indexed a little faster. It also helps Google understand what your internal pages are about as they each have at least three anchor texts describing each one.
2 – Set your navigation to a hierarchy that is easy to understand
Think of your navigation as a family tree with the homepage the first in the line, followed by categories and then sub categories. You can add as many sub categories as you like, but remember that it can get confusing for a user. Still, if you have a hierarchy structure to your navigation then people will be able to move back and forth in the knowledge that if they want to broaden their options then all they need to do is go back either with the “back” button or by clicking the category or homepage. People often expect a navigation system that is similar to this.
3 – Have your internal link anchor text readable by humans
Your anchor text should not be made up of a code or a non-informative word or phrase. Nor should it be a string of keywords. The original use of anchor text was supposed to be so that people could guess as to what the linked page is all about. Google even reads your anchor text to try and figure out what the linked page is all about. So make sure it is made up of a word or words that are readable by humans so that the human reader may interpret what type of page content the link points to. Making it readable for humans is also search engine friendly these days.
4 – Describe your linked page with your anchor text
Your anchor text needs to be readable by a human because it improves the navigation of your site. There is a current trend emerging is to let the surrounding text explain the link, so that the anchor text may just say something such as “Read more”. But, this ignores the fact that most people skim read websites and are not going to know what sort of page the “read more” link goes to. It could go to a really relevant site, but the user is left guessing, as is the search engine which may not have gathered the point of the preceding text.
5 – Have your URLs text readable by humans
If you name your URLS something uninformative, then the search engines and the human users cannot guess as to its content. Your navigation improves quite a bit of you describe your page in the URL. A lot of people use the page title as a basis for their URL, and this is often a very search engine friendly thing to do too because the main keywords are in the title and the URL. It also means that the human reader is able to glance at the URL without any anchor text covering it and still be able to guess as to what the web page is all about.
6 – Put your search bar at the top right of the screen
To improve your website usability, the UI and UE, you need to put your search bar at the top of the page. That is where people have come to expect the search bar and they will automatically assume that you don’t have one if it is not there. Your website becomes slightly more intuitive if you put your search bar at the top of the page. There is no point in having a search bar if people are not going to use it because they do not know it exists.
7 – Remember the three-click rule
The three-click rule says that if a person cannot find the thing they are looking for within three clicks on the website, then the user will leave the website. It is not actually a true rule, as the way people use websites varies widely. But, it is a good reminder that navigation should be efficient enough so that a person can find what they want very quickly. Keep this in mind when coming up with your navigation system.
The guest post is written by Sonia Jackson from http://www.cool-essays.com. She writes essays on different topics and can give you useful advice.