When building a new website, SEO and usability go hand in hand, with one crucial element bridging the two – the navigation menu. Here we’ll discuss the different types of navigation menu, the pivotal role they play in SEO web design and development, and some key points to keep in mind. Whether you’re a business looking to improve your online presence or someone offering SEO web design services, this guide will help you enhance both user experience and search engine performance.
Types of navigation menu and how they are used
A navigation menu allows users to easily switch between pages on a website. There are various kinds used in web design, with the most common being header menus, hamburger menus, sidebar menus and footer menus. Let’s look at each one and what they are typically used for.
These are the most common types of navigation menu. They are located at the top of a webpage in the
and are present on every page of the site, providing quick access to main pages like Home, About Us, Services, and
Hamburger menus are a mobile-friendly design choice, represented by three horizontal lines that expand to reveal the main navigation when clicked. They are great for saving screen space on smaller devices.
These are positioned on the side of a webpage within an
<aside> lement and are used to display additional navigation
options or subcategories. Particularly useful on sites that are content-rich, they allow easy navigation within each
section of a website.
As the name suggests, footer menus sit at the bottom of a webpage within the
<footer> element. Typically used as a
secondary navigation menu, they often include links to business-related information, which needs to be made accessible,
but is less frequently visited by a typical user. They include pages like privacy policies, terms and conditions, and
other important legal and informational content. If a website has
HTML sitemap, this will be linked here too.
How enhancing navigation menus affects SEO
One of the main ways search engines find and crawl content is through navigation menus. This means that having a well-structured navigation can help search engines understand which pages are most important and, in turn, enhance page authority.
Improved user experience
User experience (UX) design is a priority when building a website. A well thought out navigation menu makes it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for, and should include web accessibility standards to make it usable for people with disabilities. This will reduce bounce rates and increase the time users spend on your site – factors search engines consider in ranking websites.
Enhanced crawling and indexing
Search engine bots rely on navigation menus to discover and index web pages. An optimised menu ensures all essential pages are accessible and crawlable, positively impacting your website’s search visibility.
Reduced duplicate content
Properly structured menus can help prevent the creation of duplicate content by guiding users to
canonical version of a page, which is essential for SEO. It is also
common for developers to implement two navigational menus; one for desktop and one for mobile. This is usually done when
the design for the nav becomes tricky to implement from a technical viewpoint. It is important to only use one
main menu in the site, and work around the design so that it’s structured correctly so that search engines are crawling
the same versions. This is crucial when it comes
Key considerations for an SEO-friendly navigation menu
The role of sitemaps in SEO
Sitemaps play a vital part in ensuring your website is optimised for search engines. They list all the pages on your website, helping search engines understand the site’s structure. There are two types to consider – XML and HTML sitemaps. The former are essential for SEO and are submitted to search engines to aid in indexing usually at the beginning of a migration. On the other hand, HTML sitemaps, which are commonly seen on smaller sites although are usually less favoured and are not as powerful as XML, are user-facing and provide an easy-to-navigate overview of your website’s content. Both types contribute to better SEO performance by ensuring that all pages are discoverable, but XML is the most crucial part to get right.
remains exactly the same and you can still see the
ahref links. This allows engines to crawl and prioritise your
site’s pages. For more information on how Google crawls and other best practices
Responsibilities as a developer for optimised SEO.
Its important to use the correct semantic markup for any type of menu as well as the correct labels to assist with accessibility and screen readers.
Convey the menu by using a list
<ul> (usually unordered) which allows assistive technologies to announce the number of
items in a menu.
aira-current="page"indicates that the current URL is the one that resides within the nav menu.
aria-expandeddenotes that a button (i.e a hamburger) is open.
aria-labelhelps menus to be found and distinguish between them. This is also particularly helpful for navigational buttons.
1<nav> 2 <button aria-controls="navbar-supported-content" aria-expanded="false" aria-label="Toggle navigation" tabindex=0> 3 <i class="hambuger-icon"></i> 4</button> 5<nav> 6 <ul> 7 <li class="nav-item active"> 8 <a class="nav-link" href="/" aria-current="page">Home</a> 9 </li> 10 <li class="nav-item"> 11 <a class="nav-link" href="/link">Link</a> 12 </li> 13 <li class="nav-item"> 14 </ul> 15 </div> 16</nav>
Be careful using animations
Although they add dynamism to the website and UI, poorly implemented CSS animations can sometimes slow the user down. We live in a day and age where people want content, fast. And if you’re unable to provide it to them, they may just leave. Try to make animations smooth and swift to add that extra special touch of UX instead of detracting from it.
Optimising your website’s navigation menu is a critical aspect of SEO web design and development. It not only elevates the user experience, but also significantly contributes to enhanced search engine rankings – two key elements that should be at the forefront of any business’ strategy. So if you’re looking to create a seamless, user-friendly, and SEO-optimised website for your business, why not hire a professional web design and development agency to boost your rankings? With ainsley.dev’s custom web design creations, we’ve helped clients from various industries in Kent, London and worldwide elevate their online presence. Check out what we can do for you here.