Effective Navigational Elements Increase Web Search Results
When your visitors get to your site, they want to be able to get to the information they want quick. The average web surfer stays on a page for approximately 7 or 8 seconds. During that time they are looking at how easily they can get around, or navigate your pages and information. Your navigation elements need to be readily available, easily seen and the right ones even increase your results in the search engines.
Remember that search engines can only read text. For this reason, simple text based navigation buttons or links are the best option. Just write the phrase "about us" and link it to the "about us" page. It is important that that link goes directly to your "about us" page. The same applies to the other navigation links on all your pages, no matter how many or few you have.
Now, on to the search engines and what works best. As we said, the search engines can only read and assess text. That is why your page content has to be relevant and current all the time. This helps your site remain in the top listings for your niche or market. The web is a competitive place, so the top 5 to 7 results listed will grab 95% of the visits. That is a hard statistic.
If your navigational links are text based, the search engines can read them. The result is simple. The search engine will return a link to your site’s pages. Have you ever noticed that when you search for an established web site, you get links to all the pages associated with that site? You can go to the contacts page, about page, links page or any page that the SE sees a link for.
On the other hand, if you get fancy and layer the text over a graphic like a folder style tab or a pre-made button, the search engine does not see that. This reduces your results and gets you less visitors. Since the aim of your web site is to either inform the visitor about a product or directly sell them the product, your navigation needs to be simple and straightforward.
Other types of navigation elements are even less effective, such as dropdown menus. Not everyone is a web expert. If they cannot see the link clearly, they may just go away. So keep the navigable links visible and easy to see. Specify them with colors, bold text, underline them or make them appear different on mouse over. All these things call attention to the link and urges them to click.
Location is important, too. I like to keep mine at the top of the page. This is where most folks look for them to be. Placing them down the left side is acceptable as well, but not as effective and it makes them have to look for them. Too much work makes a surfer turn away.
Lastly, remember the 3 click rule. Keep all your pages no more than 3 mouse clicks away. It has been shown in studies that most web surfers are only willing to click a maximum of 3 times to reach their desired information. Make your navigation easy and within a click or two and your site will succeed and be effective.