10 Quick Tips From Semalt To Build SEO- And UX-Friendly Site Navigation
You create content for the users, not the bots.
This has been the mantra at Semalt since its inception because we believe in providing a superior experience to users when they traverse the web. That is the only way to turn them into willful and happy patrons of our clients.
But that doesn't mean you can ignore the bots. They rule the online world, so it is wise to pay heed to their demands as well, especially if your organic search strategy depends heavily on SEO.
But how? How can you strike a balance on your site so that it is optimized for both search engines (SEO) and users (user experience)?
One sure-shot way to do that is to tweak your site's navigation so that it caters to both the users and the bots. Here's how we at Semalt do it in 10 simple tips.
10 Tips for Building SEO + UX-Minded Navigation
Putting your users first and then the bots is key to designing the best website navigation. Use these tips to optimize your website so that your users get the best experience navigating it and the bots get what they need to index you better.
1. Use customer-friendly terms, not industry jargon
We had a client in the health and wellness sphere recently who wanted to redo her personal website. As a psychotherapist, she wanted the website to focus on psychedelic treatments.
This meant using industry and scientific terms like ketamine and somnambulism. She insisted on using these words, which would help in SEO. While she was right that using the technical terms would help in SEO, we contended that not all users would follow the scientific terms. We needed to simplify those terms, at least when it came to navigation.
Solution? Use simple, customer-friendly terms in the navigation menus and keep the scientific terms for the description. If the visitors want to read up more, they can always look at the description.
As explained above, finding the right balance between what your potential users will understand versus that with the bots is how you can improve CTR and boost traffic and eventually revenue.
2. Investigate your site's current user flow
Find out how the majority of your visitors navigate your site. This will give you a lot of insights into where the users bounce off because they are either unable to follow the navigation or just stuck on a page.
Google Analytics has a tool that will help you in this deed. Alternatively, you can explore the Semalt Dedicated SEO Dashboard, which has several tools to help you.
3. Include all main pages in the navigation
We come across a lot of websites where not all pages are linked in the nav bar or footer. Several stray pages - that are critical from a business POV - are either missed or forgotten about. As a result, it affects the overall structure of the website.
Users who may be looking for these pages will need to resort to searching internally or externally. Notably, bots won't need to do this.
AMAZON HAS ONE OF THE BEST SITE NAVIGATIONS
Tie this with tip №1, and you will see how naming the sections properly helps create a structure that both users and bots can follow.
4. Check internal search terms
What words do your visitors type in to search on your website? An answer to this question will further help you jump into your potential users' shoes.
Users are likely to use the search option if they cannot find what they were looking for easily. This means the navigation is faulty or not properly designed.
Head to the Google Analytics Site Search tool to take a look.
5. Optimize for both mobile and web
When it comes to navigation, web and mobile differ a lot. If you have a line header menu on your desktop site, it will likely be a hamburger, openable option on mobile. And user behavior in both these styles can also differ.
SOMETIMES A SIMPLE MENU IS ALL IT TAKES
Check how you can make the mobile experience better so that your users can find what they're looking for without any struggle. Pay close attention to user flows on mobile as over 80% of all web experiences happen on mobile these days.
6. Use Heat Map Data
Checking the user behavior on your website can give you insights on improving the navigation. For example, a heat map of your navigation menu will show you where your users click more. If you see more clicks on the third option in a menu, maybe it's time to move it up.
Such insights can be gathered by signing up for a third-party heat map data tool. Or you can reach out to us, and we'll do the hard part for you.
7. Check internal linking weightage
Which is your most-linked page on your website? As in, which is the page that sees the highest number of pings from other pages on your site?
Is that page also the most important page on your site? Is it the homepage? If yes, then you are likely doing well from an internal linking strategy POV.
If the answer is no, you may need to investigate why you're linking to a non-important page so much. This will need a lot of digging that may also unearth other issues with your linking strategy. This is because the more the number of links to an internal page, the higher the probability of your users finding that page when they land on your site. And if it's not important, why waste their time?
When you post your website URL into Semalt's performance report tool, you'll get a link report which can help you with this task.
8. Use breadcrumbs
We love breadcrumbs because they add structure to a website and make navigation look clean. Not to mention that search engine bots lap up breadcrumb data that also show up as hierarchical links on SERPs. It adds a hierarchy to the whole website and allows both users and bots to navigate it smoothly.
MOST BLOGS LIKE THE SEJ ABOVE HAVE BREADCRUMBS IN THEIR BLOG
Using breadcrumbs also means you always have a structure in place. If there's a need to add a new page any day, you can always refer to this breadcrumb structure.
9. Nourish your sitemap
Many websites tend to do a lazy job on their sitemaps assuming that visitors won't look at them. Well, that assumption is a myth.
A sitemap is a great way to outline your entire website that gives your users another way to find what they're looking for. So, instead of a basic HTML sitemap, invest a bit and design a beautiful sitemap that not only covers all the categories, sections, and pages on your site but also adds a description to each entry.
AMAZON.COM'S FOOTER HAS LINKS WITH DESCRIPTIONS
A good example of how to do this is to refer to Amazon.com's footer. It lists all sister concerns like IMDb and Goodreads and adds a short description beneath the link. This assists both readers and search engine bots with additional information about the link. This can be easily replicated in a sitemap.
Semalt Tip: Add a search function for the sitemap to make it even more UX-friendly.
10. Reduce clicks
Our final tip to building an SEO- plus UX-minded navigation involves inspecting the structure of your page. Take a look at your most important pages and see how many clicks it takes for a user to get there from the homepage. If it's more than one, you are doing something wrong.
For example, if you have a flagship product, make sure that your users can reach its description/buy page via the homepage with a single click. Not to mention there should be other ways to reach the page from other sections.
Building website navigation that boosts SEO and UX isn't difficult. The key is to start slow and execute more than one actions that will have a collective impact. Use these tips by Semalt to get started.