Why structuring your website and menus is important.
Visual structuring your website is, in most cases, presented by the menu of your website. Permalinks and breadcrumbs assist but these are not important for your visitor. Your main navigation menu is crucial. To keep things orderly and focussed the menu consists of a limited number of top-level items. Ideally, a single level is what you should strive for. Today, many sites use secondary menus to make way for additional content. Business site owners with many product offerings struggle to fit everything in but there are other ways to get from one page to another and your menu isn’t the only navigational option on your website.
Home page through to Contact Us page
Most business websites have menus starting with HOME followed by various product and/or service options and ending with CONTACT US. Internet users are aware of this concept and expect to see them displayed prominently.
- Justification – Navigation choices include left or right justified or positioned in the centre of the page. It’s worthwhile spending time on deciding what you include and just as importantly what you exclude from the main menu.
- Relevancy – Screen real estate is valuable so it’s important to show your key pages in the most prominent position. For instance, all business sites need pages for Terms & Conditions, Privacy Statements etc. but their links they don’t belong in the main navigation menu. If your site goal is to sell a product or service give visitors an easy way to see what you have and don’t distract them on the journey.
- Cross-site linking – Search engines like to see sites linking to pages within their own structure. Internal linking can be topic-specific and therefore not a great candidate for a standalone menu option. It’s best to plan internal linking from the outset but retrospective structuring is better than none at all.
Planning how visitors flow through your site
Knowing what you want your site visitors to do is always essential. Then it’s your task to make it as easy as possible to get them to your (and their) goal. Here’s where you start if you already have a site that has seen pages and content added over time.
- Limit your desired menu(s) to 2 if you can.
- Review your pages and fit more of the pages you have created over time into the menu structure.
- If your business has shifted focus you’ll find that some pages are no longer relevant to the menu they are sitting in. If the page is still worth having, consider linking to it from the body of another page or blog post. This actually helps with your search engine relevance so it’s certainly worthwhile.
- People reading a piece of content will follow links to ‘read more about . . .’ or ‘learn how to . . . ‘. Google and Bing will crawl these links too so make sure they are included in your sitemap.
- Remove pages from your site if they are out of date, distracting or just not accurate anymore. It’s important to redirect the URLs as there may be links to them out in the wild. If clicked on after deletion they will display the unwanted ‘Page not found’ error. To avoid this problem add a ‘redirect’ (301 redirect) for these pages to your home page or any other URL on your site. Ideally, the new link should be somehow related to the original topic.
If you have a business website that could use a structure refresh we’d be more than happy to help. Contact us now for a free appraisal.