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A Day in the Life of a Search Engine Friendly Web Page: Navigation & Links

We recently had been working with a client to get them to remove their block of footer links. All the links were relevant to drive people to their brand pages but it was ugly and didn’t work. We recommended a few options, one of which was a “shop by brand” drop down menu. They were able to implement a drop down that linked to all of their brand pages but via their implementation of it none of the links were able to be followed by search engines spiders.

Sorry. Try again.

Search engine friendly navigation and linking structures are the cornerstone of a search engine friendly website. This is the one area where, if everything else is done right but you create links the search engines cannot follow, you simply won’t get anywhere… or very much beyond the home page, at least.

Web developers often design navigation links using flash or JavaScript. This can create a little extra flare for the website, which can be nice, but unfortunately, it is probative to search engines.

The bottom line, if search engines cannot follow your links then they won’t be able to crawl through your site in order to rank your pages. While this won’t completely hinder your pages from ranking well you’ll be severely handicapped and completely at the mercy of external links pointing to individual pages. Definitely not a place you want to be.

There are a few ways to check to see if your links are spiderable. One of the easiest, if you use FireFox, is the YellowPipe Lynx Viewer Tool extension.

If you like the extra bells and whistles in your navigation, you will either have to find ways to get what you want while creating search friendly links, which might be expensive to find/develop, workarounds, or be willing to compromise a bit. Cool nav features are fun to have, but nothing stunts business growth like limiting search engine spiderability to your site.

Previous posts from this series:

Search Engine Friendly is NOT Search Engine Optimized
An Argument for Website Validation
A Day in the Life of a Search Engine Friendly Web Page: The Domain Name
A Day in the Life of a Search Engine Friendly Web Page: Tile and Meta Tags
A Day in the Life of a Search Engine Friendly Web Page: Code Bloat
A Day in the Life of a Search Engine Friendly Web Page: Headings

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

2 Responses to A Day in the Life of a Search Engine Friendly Web Page: Navigation & Links

  1. Jordan says:

    Not to play Devil’s Advocate, but your client probably needed more guidance than just “create a drop down menu” to ensure that their menus were search engine friendly. Perhaps you did tell them the correct way to create their menus and they didn’t pass along or heed your advice. Clients usually don’t know how to implement every search engine friendly site improvement; after all, they wouldn’t hire us if they did.

  2. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    Jordan, you make a very good point. To prevent from writing a novel I didn’t go into every detail, but you’re right, most clients need more than just “do this” type recommendations. This client has an in-house programmer so they figured they could take the recommendations and get them implemented effectively. For the most part they did, but there are gaps. That’s why we are here to guide them.