One of my favorite clients has a nightmare of a website. He knows this because I’ve told him several times. We don’t mince words with one another and it’s just a matter of not knowing when he started out how very important your website’s navigational design is to SEO.
More than ever, search engines are focusing on “customer experience.” They want their search spiders (or bots) to fly through a site, figure out what it’s about, and move on. They don’t want any difficulty in searching your site, and worst of all, no spider traps!
Spider traps are loops that create many, many pages that don’t actually exist on the site. This usually happens with dynamic content — content that visitors see, which varies depending on set parameters.
That’s more technical than I actually wanted to get here. What I want you to understand is that your navigational design should be linear and clearly defined. Here’s what I saw when I went to one site:
Home page – product category page – product category page in store – product page – order page.
This should have been Home page – Product category page – Product page with a buy button.
No page on your site should be more than 3 clicks from the home page. So, it could actually have another page in there, but why? Keep your navigational design as simple as possible!
XML Sitemaps Are Crucial
And when you’re finished creating your site, create a sitemap. No, not the kind that visitors see, but one that spiders see — an XML sitemap that lists every page in your website. Then, register it with Google Webmaster Tools. And be sure to update it often, if your site is static HTML. As your site grows, so should your XML sitemap.
This is why I love WordPress for simplicity. It has Home, category, and posts or pages, and also home, tag, and posts or pages. Simple. But it’s also very easy to create a killer sitemap automatically with WordPress SEO by Yoast, which also keeps your sitemap up-to-date.
The bottom line is to use a design that is easy to navigate. If you get spiders upset, they may not index your site properly, but that’s a side issue. Your clients don’t want the hassle, either. If your site is too hard to navigate, you’re most definitely losing sales.