SEO Hacks: How to Design an SEO Friendly Navigation Menu

Search Engine Optimization, Web Design

When you arrive on a website for the first time, you become a pirate on a treasure island – lost and in need of direction.

The website’s main navigation menu is your compass for finding what you’re looking for.

However, if the compass is broken – or the navigation menu is poorly laid out – then you’ll get frustrated and continue your quest elsewhere.

Keep angry pirates at bay with an SEO friendly menu.

Whether your website structure needs some refinement or you’re starting from scratch, here are some SEO hacks to improve your navigation menu.

Benefits of an SEO Friendly Navigation Menu

Next to having a responsive web design, your navigation menu is the make-or-break point for users visiting your website.

If visitors are able to quickly find information that’s relevant to their needs, they will be happy and more likely to return to your website for future content, products, and services.

Google’s algorithm will also factor in how users engage with your website when ranking your pages, including the number and duration of sessions, conversions, and bounce rates.

If you provide rich and relevant content on a well-structured website, user engagement will increase and Google will be more likely to crawl, index, and return your pages in the search results.

Better navigation = happier visitors = more traffic = more conversions = higher ranking in Google search results = even more traffic and conversions

I’m not a mathematician, but that looks promising from mainly refining your top navigation.

What Pages Should Be Included in My Menu Navigation?

As a general rule of thumb, you want to limit your navigation to seven items. Any number higher and it will look visually dense and convoluted for the user.

So, how do you determine what are the seven most important menu items on your website?

Card Sorting

Card sorting is a method that UX (user-experience) designers often utilize to evaluate how users perceive and interact with a website.

Played almost like a game, you label index cards or sticky notes with one item and have groups or individuals attempt at sorting the cards to what they believe makes the most sense to them.

Card Sorting Game

Run this game with your friends, family, and co-workers to discover patterns, understand rationale, and help narrow down your options.

Remind participants that there are no right or wrong answers. Ask them questions about why they decided to weed out or keep certain cards.

You can also make the game more challenging (and fun!) by offering prizes for finishing under a certain time or for being the most innovative.

Google Search Console – Landing Page Data

Google Search Console, formally known as Google Webmaster Tools, is an indispensable free tool for business owners and digital marketers for tracking website performance.

Under “Search Analytics”, select the option “Pages” to discover which pages on your website received the most traffic in the past 90 days.

If a page has a high CTR (click-through-rate) and impression count, then make sure to place that page somewhere easy for visitors to find. Likewise, if a page doesn’t have many clicks or impressions, its accessibility is not as important.

Google Search Console Landing Page Data

Google Analytics – Visitors Flow

Google Analytics is another powerful free tool for business owners and digital marketers for identifying your audience and learning how they interact with your website.

Under the “Audience”, select the option “Users Flow” to discover where your visitors are coming from as well as how they are going down the pipeline before converting or leaving your site.

In the image below, you will find that the majority of users for this website begin on the homepage before dropping off or visiting another page. “Team” and “Contact” are reoccurring pages down the funnel, so it would be best to put them in the top menu.

Google Analytics User Flow for Improving Navigation Menu

What Should I Label My Navigation Menu?

Google Search Console – Query Data

Google Search Console also provides data regarding what queries users are identifying

Although you can only trace back to the previous 90 days, this should provide you some insight onto what queries are repetitively searched for. Then, you can compile a list of potential terms or phrases that could be used for your content pages or navigation menu.

Google Search Console Query Data for Navigation Menu Keyword Research

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is another extremely helpful and free tool for identifying keyword opportunities as well as any search query’s estimated search volume and ad bid price.

You can generate keyword ideas or add your own list to get a better idea about how many people in a specific region within a given time frame are looking for your products and services.

Not sure where to start? Read our Keyword Research 101 guide.

Competitor Research

Don’t brush pass your competitors. Instead, identify what keywords they are ranking for and consider adding these search queries to your own arsenal.

The old school approach is to manually visit your competitor’s websites and compile a list of the products and services they offer. You can then implement these terms to your website and attempt to outrank your competitors in the same search results.

Another approach is to add your competitor’s domain in Google Keyword Planner under “Your landing page.” Then click “Get ideas.” The keywords they are ranking for will then appear under the “Keyword ideas” tab. You can then adjust the “Targeting” and “Date range” fields to your liking.

Keyword Planner for Navigation Menu Keyword Research
Using Keyword Planner for Navigation Menu Keyword Research

5 Navigation Menu Best Practices

Always remember that every decision you make for your navigation menu will impact user behavior – for better or worse.

For example, you may want to be original and say “What we do” instead of “Services.” But if potential customers that visit your website are looking for your services, then you should label accordingly.

Here are some other best practices for an SEO friendly navigation menu:

  1. Be consistent. Navigation should be the same on every website page.
  2. Link your business logo to the homepage
  3. Aim for 7 or fewer menu options. Too many items can look crowded and potentially devalue their importance.
  4. Be clear, not clever. Avoid using phrases like “Get in touch” or “Let’s Chat.”
  5. TEST, TEST, TEST! Use Google Analytics to annotate when you made your updates and to monitor user behavior.

Make a Menu Worth Navigating

Your navigation menu plays a crucial role in creating an amazing user experience. It can also create a terrible one, if visitors become frustrated for making too many clicks and not finding the information they are looking for.

With an SEO friendly navigation menu, users will stay on your website longer, sales will increase, and your rankings in the search results will go higher.

Improve the visibility and ranking of your business, nonprofit, or University with Intuitive Digital.

Contact us today and receive a free consultation – over the phone or even over a friendly game of Ping-Pong.

About the Author

Nick Footer

Nick Footer is an entrepreneur and founder of Intuitive Digital, a national award-winning digital marketing agency in Portland, Oregon. With over 15 years of experience, he has helped hundreds of businesses improve their online presence through search engine optimization, paid advertising, and website design.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Receive expert marketing tips