Your SEO score, marketing and branding start at first with your main menu and the overall site navigation.
The website navigation and menu are the first indicators on what a website is about to visitors. Whether the menu links are at the right place or not, can result to success or complete failure in retaining the users.
The first SEO mistake is to have a poorly drafted menu layout & design that can convert all your marketing efforts into Zero, by leading to high bounce rate, click back and low length of time on the website which further lowers the site rankings in search engines. It is to be noted that the main menu plays a direct role in the generation of leads and sales from the website.
I come across such flaws almost every day. And, irrespective of the size and kind of site it is, whether it’s a small blog or an enormous e-Commerce site, such flaws remains. I visit about 10 to 20 sites every day and I have seen people trying to reinvent the wheel, but eventually, confusing people on where they should click and what they should follow.
I have made some notes to help you further on planning for a good layout to retain user to your site and to optimize a higher conversion rate on leads and organic traffic.
LET’S START WITH THE MOST OBVIOUS MISTAKE THAT MANY PEOPLE, BLOGGERS, E-COMMERCE AND ENTERPRISE DO.
1. When you say “Get in touch” or “Reach ME” instead of “Contact us”
Many of us try being different in presenting design and services, which is definitely great, but when it comes to menu and navigation, you must stay classic and obvious to user to contact you. Be clear and do not try to be ‘over creative’ for your contact page.
The phrases like, “Get in Touch, “Reach Us” or “Let’s Chat”, will confuse users, leading your hard efforts for promoting yourself to zero leads. Respect what user want to see, when it comes to the “Contact” button or contact forms.
Keep is simple!
2. Your blog link in your main menu
Above all, always keep in mind the purposes of having a blog on your website.
A blog is the only way for people to find your website and once people land on your site, they must be redirected to your services, product or contact pages.
Blogs rarely find a place in top navigation menu, unless your site is a blog or you understand how to monetize that blog or how to convert any lead from it. And, I must say that it’s rarely found case.
The better place for the blog link is in the footer, but you can always advertise your latest post in sidebar, which is good enough to do.
3. Stop using “Services” instead of the actual services
Users want to reach at what they want and they look for it on your top level menu. So, don’t compel them to navigate too much and solve it like a mystery.
Using unusual words for naming the services menu, instead of the actual list of services, only makes it more complicated for users to understand what your site is about at first look. Some companies can have an extensive list of services, but you can always group them in 2 or 3 different category of services links in your menus. It will help visitors to be a step closer to your services.
4. Do not make your main menu too long with 15 links to choose from
Remember those 4 letters KISS, keep it simple.
How many times you go grocery shopping finding yourself facing a stand with 1000 choices of the same product. In other words the more choices you give to someone, the longer it will take to make a decision.
Keeping your menu short will not only help visitors to make decision fast, but also will make your website effective, and also, easier for search engine bots to capture you. Therefore, it will increase your ranking, and also, will make it simple to understand for everybody including you.
Keep your menu short!
5. Don’t draws too much attention with your menus
Your content should only be your king, menus are secondary.
Having a very tall or giant menu that will capture too much of the reader’s attention to the top of your site is not good. Remember that your main goal is to help the user to find what he wants and to hold his attention on reading about it, without any distraction.
Keep your header menu small and discrete, users will know where to find it when he will need it.
6. Make sure your main menu is responsive
Responsiveness is a crucial industry standard, since a few years.
When did the last time you tried using your main menu on a cell phone or tablet?
Do you need to zoom in and out?
Is it difficult to make a click on menu options?
Testing your site navigation on all operating systems and screen size has become mandate and crucial, since a few years. And, it is also an important part to consider for your SEO ranking and compliance.
7. No need for “Home” button in menus anymore
The industry is constantly adapting and reinventing itself. For many years, we have seen the “Home” section being a part of your main menu.
But, there is no need for it anymore. It is only your logo that should be the link to your home page.
Also, placing a “home” link in your main menu will waste the value of real estate; eventually, drawing the reader’s attention away from your important content or other links.
8. Remove low traffic pages from your menu
Why keeping links in your main menu that generate no traffic or leads?
Pages like FAQ are usually a perfect example of such pages, which have nothing to do in the main menu. Instead, it should be in the footer menu. The best way to understand which link generates more or less clicks or traffic is to go through your analytic and hence, know about the most important pages.
9. Use active states in your main menu, don’t let user guess!
Reminding visitors of where they are in your site navigation should be one of your priorities, as it directly affects your SEO. The search engine bots also need to understand the tree map and active states of a page or post.
There are 2 ways to remind users of where they are now and 1 for bots.
The page link in your menu should be highlighted or dim, if active, but the best way according to me is to implement a SEO compliance breadcrumb, that tells bots and users about how deep they are in your tree map in that particular moment.
10. Never keep your menu text too long
This rarely happens when you need a menu link of 3 words and never have I seen a successful company using 4 words.“who we are”, but again they are not for everybody and are exceptions. Don’t make your menu look like a full sentences. Menu texts are for menu and sentences are for paragraph!
One to two words for a menu text should be your limit, while keeping it to 1 word should be your priority.
However, there are some exceptions to the rule, combining menu titles like, “How it works” or “who we are” but again they are not for everybody and are exceptions.
Don’t make your menu look like a full sentences, menus are for menus and sentences for paragraph!
11. Learn what mega menu can do for you instead of fly-out menus
Mega menu is the on-going trend in menu navigation and it is not only because it sounds like a trendy word.
Maximizing the real estate of your drop down menu is key to your overall navigation.
Showing a large drop down menu, having sub menus and categories will help consumers or readers to directly find what they want.
The old fly out menu that restricts you from showcasing the entire tree of your site will drop your conversion rate immediately and will not utilize your real estate well, simply by not taking advantage of it.
Companies like Godaddy or Newegg make great examples of mega menus.
12. Don’t get your menu order wrong
Coming back to analytic and priority, the most important pages should be in the first position. Study your analytics and it will show you which pages are getting the most clicks and conversions.
13. Learn analytic the right way to help perfect your main menu
Doing what your competition does or what your designer tells you, is easy, but may not be the right thing to do with your menu orders and page link.
Just a quick reminder: Your main menu is your top priority for your overall success. Here, make strategic adjustments as it follows.
To help you achieve your goals, there are 3 tools that every webmaster and online business owner should use to better his/her navigation menu:
- Google Analytics will give you insights about what pages should be listed in your main menu.
- Qualaro will allow you to question visitors when they are browsing your site.
- Crazy Egg will visually help you to understand the most important pages.
Keep it is simple for users to navigate, understand where they are and buy your product. Keeping in mind the rules for building your navigation menu will lead you to a lower bounce rate, visitors’ longer time on the site, and hence, higher search engine rankings. Also, not forgetting that it will eventually boost leads and sales from your site and all your marketing effort will be rewarded.