You Don’t Sell “Products.” Descriptive Nav for Better SEO and UX

We all know that words are the cornerstone of language. However, business owners need to stop thinking about products and start thinking about their company’s purpose or mission statement, which is a single sentence describing what your product does for the world at large.

The “how navigation impacts seo” is a blog post that discusses how navigation can affect the search engine rankings. It also discusses why it is important for websites to have descriptive navigations.

I was driving my daughter home from aerial yoga (yes, it’s a thing) last Friday when we came across a man waving one of those big arrow signs that people wave around to direct you to a specific store. 

This man was a pro at what he did. He turned the sign over down. He twirled it around. He wielded it. Over it, he performed somersaults. He was passionate about what he did. By the way, he was selling marijuana.

“CANNABIS” was written on the sign. It is legal where I reside in Seattle. Our attention was drawn to the performance. However, if his sign had simply said “products,” we would have only remembered the performance. We’d have no recollection of the shop or the merchandise.

My ranting demonstrates that a Seattle cannabis store owner is a better marketer than 90% of us online experts. 

Navigation that is completely descriptive sells.

What products does this firm offer?

You-Dont-Sell-Products-Descriptive-Nav-for-Better-SEO-andIt’s a nice helmet. What do you sell, though?

The typography is good. That’s also a stunning helmet. This firm offers helmets, as far as I’m aware. But what more do they have to offer? Is it just helmets? Broccoli and helmets? Surfboards and helmets? Socks and helmets? I haven’t got a clue. Whatever it is, I can make it my own. But I have no idea what ‘it’ is.

I know the firm offers helmets if I Google “Helmets” and come on this home page. What if they also sell gloves? If I type “gloves” into Google and end up on this page, I’ll conclude I’m in the wrong area or that gloves aren’t a top concern.

Worse, if I search for “Helmets” and end up on a website that doesn’t include a helmet picture, I’ll be absolutely lost. I’ll think about it. I’m less likely to convert as a result of my hesitancy.

What if the designer instead utilized this navigation:

1636642364_3_You-Dont-Sell-Products-Descriptive-Nav-for-Better-SEO-andHelmets and gloves are required! That makes a lot of sense.

Oohhhh. Now I understand. Helmets and gloves are available for purchase. I’d want to use my gloves or my helmet (or both). At the navigation, “Gloves” indicates that I am in the correct location. It’s also one less thing for my already overworked brain to worry about: I need gloves. I put on my gloves and click.

It’s as though a man is waving an arrow-shaped sign that says “Helmets and Gloves” in front of a business.

The Secret Weapon of the Rankings

However, because you’re on the SEMrush website, you’re presumably more concerned with rankings and organic traffic…

An SEO’s secret weapon is completely detailed navigation.

Sites with fully detailed navigation are favored by search engine algorithms. Link text is scrutinized by search engines. All link text, not only offsite link text. Replace “products” in your top navigation with “

,” and you’ve just established a high-quality, UX-enhancing link with the greatest possible anchor text on every page of your site. All of those hyperlinks will take you to the most relevant page. 

As a result, the term “Helmets” establishes a link on every page of the site with the anchor text “Helmets.” Every link leads to the most up-to-date “helmets” page. That’s a significant amount of SEO power:

1636642366_422_You-Dont-Sell-Products-Descriptive-Nav-for-Better-SEO-andEvery page has a legitimate, keyword-rich link? Please register me.

What You’re Not Doing

Don’t attempt to cram keywords into the footer of every page on your site (for example, putting a “helmets” link at the bottom of every page). 

It’s OK to add “Cycling” to the “Gloves” navigation item here. The helmet may be used for various activities, while the gloves are exclusive for cycling. And it reads perfectly:

1636642369_136_You-Dont-Sell-Products-Descriptive-Nav-for-Better-SEO-andIf you do it this way, adding cycling is OK.

Create links that improve the user experience. Create links that look good. Notice I didn’t create navigation that reads “Cycling Helmets,” Then “Cycling Gloves,” then maybe “Customize & Buy Your Cycling Helmet and Gloves.” That kind of spam might help you rank. A little. For now. 

However, the user experience is terrible. It will ultimately bite you in the rear. Over-optimization is frowned upon by Google and Bing. The rule: You’re about to make a manipulative connection if you have to explain it to yourself, or even if you think you may have to justify it. Stop.

However, I Offer a Wide Range of Products and Services.

If you have a large number of products, one nav item will not enough. For example, if you offer ten distinct types of bicycles, skateboard and cycling helmets, gloves, and gear, you won’t be able to design properly detailed navigation for each of them.

Consider dividing your navigation and labeling important goods with distinct, fully descriptive labels. Perhaps “Bicycles,” “Helmets,” and “Apparel” in the example above.

Then, beneath each, establish sub-navigation. Show me a second set of links leading to “Cycling” and “Skateboarding” if I click on “Helmets.”

There should be no more than six top navigation elements. Move elements like “About Us” to secondary navigation if it begins to grow busy. Consider how you can group items into categories. 

I’ve never encountered a company that couldn’t come up with a comprehensive, user-friendly navigation system. Internal politics sometimes prevent it, and I’m afraid I can’t assist you with that. You must balance the risks and advantages of making the adjustment.

It Works!

Over the years, we’ve done this update on 10 or so sites. It boosts ranks and bounce rate every time. Because you have many more connections to that one core page, the larger the site, the better the SEO result. The user experience, as evaluated by click through, is always improving. The second click is being made by a growing number of individuals.

We’ve seen customers jump from page two to page one in as little as a few days, and bounce rates decrease by 10% or more.

Switch to completely detailed navigation like the cannabis man. You’ll see an increase in rankings and user engagement.

The “what makes a good navigation bar” is a question that has been asked by many people. This article will answer the question, and also discuss how it relates to SEO and UX.

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