Site Navigation’s Importance to SEO

Web design is not just about the site’s look and feel; it’s also about function. One of the things you need to care about in this regard is your site’s structure. When talking about structure, the top element to consider is site navigation.

Navigation is important to human users and search engine crawlers in different ways, so you have to balance it for both. What does this mean? Building your navigation using entirely Flash or JavaScript may be appealing or impressive to human users. Yet doing so makes it impossible for search engine crawlers to navigate and index the links on your site, causing them to ignore your site altogether. XHTML and CSS navigation schemes are more advisable in this regard.

The demands of human users and search engine crawlers don’t always come into conflict, however; they actually overlap in some respects. When it comes to navigation, users and search engines both care about the “depth” of your site. Simply put, depth refers to the number of clicks needed to reach the deepest contents of your site. Too much depth, and search engines would likely stop indexing your pages.

In a nutshell, be sure to keep the navigation structure shallow, ideally only three to four clicks from the homepage to the deepest content. Such a structure also makes your site more user-friendly, which can reduce bounce rate—another factor crucial to SEO.

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