Currently, I have my important product and information pages buried under two tabs in the top navigation: 'Products' and 'Information'. I understand now that I would be far better off pulling the important categories up into the navigation structure. Categories are sparse. In terms of widgets:
3 Product Categories: -- Widget Calibrators: 13 products - each being a type (color): 'blue widget calibrator', etc. -- Doohicky Calibrators: 3 products - each being a quality: 'budget doohicky calibrator', etc. -- Misc Supplies: 5 products.
4 Informational Categories: -- Widget Calibrating: 1 or more articles for each of the 13 colors. Plus many no-color articles. -- Doohicky Calibrating -- Widgets: 1 or more articles for each of the 13 colors. Plus many no-color articles. -- Doohickys
My challenge is providing more juice to product pages, while weighing the fact that the informational pages are much more link-worthy. There is currently alot of cross-linking within colors. (Product "Red Widget Calibrators", article "Red Widget Calibrating", and article "Red Widgets" - all linking to each other.)
Would you go as far as putting each product directly in the side navigation? That's 21 products - that I could cut down to 15 (13+1+1). Would that be too diluted? Would I be better off with the 3 product categories in the topnav as tabs, with a drop-down menu for each category tab?
As far as the 4 informational categories, options are 2 or 4 category tabs in the topnav - or just 1 "Articles" or "Information" tab in the topnav.
If I understand what your asking, I would simply arrange the hierarchy of the site nav in such a way that the user would find open and easy.
Thanks Propools. Well, that would point to linking to every product in the navigation. As it is now, all products are linked to on the home page (not in the navigation, but in the body of the home page). And what do you know, by far the majority of sales arrive at the home page, and immediately follow one of the product links on the home page. So maybe that answers my question.
With everything I was reading about link flow, the standard navigational structure I was using and seeing all over the internet didn't make sense. One 'Products' tab and a multitude of tabs for support and admin type links. So the support and admin categories get equal billing to the products. That couldn't be right. So I searched for an answer and this thread here described my situation to a tee: "do backlinks to my internal pages still positively affect my homepage?" [webmasterworld.com...] Robert Charlton's comment toward the end is what really made a light flip on for me. Pull the important categories into the nav structure and consolidate the unimportant support and admin links.
So now I know the path I need to take. I'm splitting hairs now. I'm in the process of adding one of the products I mentioned (the doohicky calibrators) - and I have years worth of articles stored up in my back pocket waiting for a home. I'm using this opportunity to convert to extensionless URL's and at the same time fix the navigation structure. So I want to make sure I have a good plan going in.