Optimize Your Website's Navigation

: By Tracy Just :

One of the most important search engine considerations is anchor text, often called link text, or the clickable text in a link. Therefore, the words you choose for your links play a vital role in determining which keyword phrases will gain the most visibility. And, as your website navigation is clickable, it does much more than just directs visitors to pages on your website. It also shows the search engines where to find your important information.

Ideally, anchor text alludes to the content that will appear after the link is clicked. As such, search engines use content within anchor text as a determining factor of whether a page is relevant for a keyword search. This means that a Web page gets credit for every keyword that links to it - the more times the page is linked with the keyword or phrase, the higher the ranking. Often overlooked, the same anchor text rules holds true for your website's navigation. Let's use two examples to demonstrate how you can use this information to improve your navigation and keyword rankings in the search engines.

I found a website that specializes in indoor and outdoor water fountains. Here's a sample of their current navigation:

  • Tabletop Fountains
  • Garden Fountains
  • Floor Fountains
  • Solar Fountains

This is a good start, but how can we improve it? Let's add the keyword "water."

  • Tabletop Water Fountains
  • Garden Water Fountains
  • Floor Water Fountains
  • Solar Water Fountains

Because of the additional navigation text, the former "tabletop fountains" page would also get credit for the keywords "tabletop water fountains" and "water fountains," and the same goes for the other pages. Now, when as user's search includes the word "water" or phrase "water fountains," there is a greater chance this website turns up in the results. This is a definite improvement. Here's another example of navigation from a site that sells tape and adhesive products:

  • Products
  • Product Development
  • Capabilities
  • Contact Us

With this navigation, we're not helping those pages rank for their most important keywords - tape and adhesives. But what if we added some keywords?

  • Tape Products
  • Tape Product Development
  • Adhesive Capabilities
  • Contact Us

By using keywords in the navigation, we improve the ranking for highly relevant keywords such as "tape" and "adhesives."

There is another SEO benefit to adding more relevant keywords to your navigation: every single page of your site will get higher visibility for those keywords. This is because the search engines give a page credit for a keyword whenever it occurs on a page, especially if it appears in a link. Since every page of your website includes your navigation, every page gets credit for the keyword, including the page linked to from the navigation.

As you can see, your navigation goes beyond being a simple way for users to move through your site - it also plays a very important role in your website's SEO success. A few simple changes can make a big difference in how your site ranks in the search engines. Take a few minutes to review your website's navigation and make sure your most important keywords are being used.

About the Author: Tracy Just has over eight years experience in Internet marketing. She is currently an SEO and PPC Account Executive with Ecreativeworks.