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Practical SEO 4 - Navigations

The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want. It can also help search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important. Although Google's search results are provided at a page level, Google also likes to have a sense of what role a page plays in the bigger picture of the site.

Use unordered lists

Use unordered lists for main menu. Unordered lists is a juicy food for Google spiders, it let Google grab the whole navigation and structure of the web site very effectively. If you want a "drop down" like main menu, put the sub menu as embed unordered lists into its parent ul lists. This way, even all the javascript and css is disabled, Google can still "see" the whole hierarchy of the navigation.

Use keywords

Use keywords in navigation menu exactly as a customer would use them in a search.

Use text for navigation

Text based links on the web site makes it easier for search engines to crawl and understand your site. Many users also prefer this over other approaches, especially on some devices that might not handle Flash or JavaScript. Try not to have a navigation based entirely on drop-down menus, images, or animations. A much better approach is to use your graphic as a background image with your anchor text styled with CSS.

Add breadcrumb lists

A breadcrumb is a row of internal links at the top or bottom of the page that allows visitors to quickly navigate back to a previous section or the root page. Breadcrumb navigation is an excellent way to help visitors find their way around your website, especially if you have many sub-categories and many pages of content. Each category and sub-category is represented as a link with their page name as the anchor text. If you design your categories around your keywords, then this results in a keyword-rich menu system.

404 page

Users will occasionally come to a page that doesn't exist on your site, either by following a broken link or typing in the wrong URL. Having a custom 404 page that kindly guides users back to a working page on your site can greatly improve a user's experience. Your 404 page should probably have a link back to your root page and could also provide links to popular or related content on your site. Just remember that not index 404 pages in search engines (make sure that your webserver is configured to give a 404 HTTP status code when non-existent pages are requested)

Prepare tow site maps: one for users one for search engines

A simple site map page with links to all of the pages or the most important pages (if you have hundreds or thousands) on your site can be useful. Creating an XML Sitemap file for your site helps ensure that search engines discover the pages on your site.

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