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Restructuring internal linking and website architecture

     
8:09 am on Jan 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hello guys,

I have a question regarding internal linking and website architecture (I`m running an e-commerce website).

The current design of my website includes the first TWO levels of categories in the menu. Something like this:

HOME -> FIRST LEVEL CATEGORY (IN THE MENU) -> SECOND LEVEL CATEGORY (IN THE MENU) - THIRD LEVEL CATEGORY (NOT IN THE MENU) -> SO ON (NOT IN THE MENU)

So practically the first two levels of categories appear on every single page on my website, since the menu can be accessed from every page on my website (I'm talking about desktop version exclusively). This means they get the most internal links out of all the pages on my website.

The new design was created as to include the THIRD level of categories in the menu as well. So the new design will look like this:

HOME -> FIRST LEVEL CATEGORY (IN THE MENU) -> SECOND LEVEL CATEGORY (IN THE MENU) - THIRD LEVEL CATEGORY (IN THE MENU) -> SO ON (NOT IN THE MENU)

My question is: how will this change affect my rankings and how Google crawls and rank each individual page on the webste. Will page authority decline, since tens of hundreds of new links will receive a big number of internal links at the same time?

I'm afraid that all the link juice that the first and second level categories have received until now will be divided into three (since the third level categories will also receive the same number of links).

What is your opinion on this?

Thanks in advance for your replies!
11:09 am on Jan 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If you enclose the menu in nav tags it will tell Google (/other SEs/screen readers) it is a navigation section, which should mean that what is in the menu has no effect on page authority.

SEs are pretty good at figuring it out anyway. Design your menu for your users, not for distributing link juice.
12:18 pm on Jan 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@wilburforce

Thanks for your information

Well, we really believe that by making the third level categories available in the menu will make it much easier for users to reach their desired product, so it's kind of designed for that purpose :)

Anyway, I don't want this change in the menu to affect my rankings, this is why I am searching for other opinions/ SEOs who have experienced this situation.

Thanks for your information
12:48 pm on Jan 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@wilburforce

I'm not saying that what you mentioned is not true, but in the past I have made some changes in my structure by placing a category from the THIRD level in the SECOND level, which in turn lead to a higher number of internal links to for that particular category, and higher rankings.

I have done a couple of changes in this way, all with positive effect (in terms of ranking) for the page that received a higher number of internal links.

So, there is some sort of impact on rankings for all categories for which I increase/decrease the number of internal links. Can you please provide some sources from where I can study the impact of "nav" tag for SEO?

Thanks
1:50 pm on Jan 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Not much has changed since html5 introduced these tags, as discussed in several threads here such as this one: [webmasterworld.com...] in 2016 which references both the w3c.org definitions and Mozilla's definitions. The new tags were not intended to have any effect on ranking or SEO other than usability and convenience for developers. The Mozilla article starts out with the note:
Important: There are currently no known implementations of the outline algorithm in graphical browsers or assistive technology user agents, although the algorithm is implemented in other software such as conformance checkers. Therefore the outline algorithm cannot be relied upon to convey document structure to users. Authors are advised to use heading rank (h1-h6) to convey document structure.
- [developer.mozilla.org...]

Understanding that Google is ranking sites today for their Mobile friendly features and usability for devices other than desktop should direct us to design primarily for Mobile users and enable desktop features rather than designing primarily around desktop features. Speed and usability will do more for SEO than internal "link juice" so long as users can easily navigate. There is no separate Google index for desktop and their index is "Mobile First" today. There are likely many efforts to gain advantage for SEO or ranking using the html5 tags, but that is not their purpose.

2:13 pm on Jan 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@andreicomoti

Be careful not to conflate the multiple factors that can affect ranking (meaning SERPs position - not "page rank", which no longer exists as a simple known ranking factor).

Adding links to a lower level page reduces click-depth (the number of clicks required to reach it from higher pages), and increases the number of links to it (which may well increase crawl-rate for that page). Both of these factors will have some positive effect on the recipient page, but how big that effect is will depend on other ranking factors. Good backlinks, for example, will have a much greater effect. However, increasing the chance that users can find that page increases the likelihood that it will receive backlinks. In general, it is good practice to make all your important pages easily accessible from other pages, which is a primary function of your menu. Where the important pages should be is a function of site structure: if your level 3 pages are more important than level 2 pages, think about structure, not menus.

On the other hand, snowing a page with unneccesary and/or irrelevant internal links, and/or using landing-pages solely to forward incoming traffic elsewhere is more likely to be counter-productive. If you have anything that is starting to look like a mega-menu, using the nav tag clarifies for SEs that it is a menu, and that your site overall is not some kind of stand-alone link-farm. As I said earlier, however, SEs can usually figure this out anyway.

A very long time ago a relatively small number of tags - h1, for example, as well as some of the meta tags - could make a noticeable difference on their own. Today everything is much more nuanced, and relies on good practice in all aspects of web-design, not a couple of simple fixes. Using nav tags on a menu or other page section devoted to navigation is good practice, not an SEO silver bullet.
2:43 pm on Jan 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@wilburforce

Thanks, that really very much sums up my opinion on this situation. I just needed a confirmation.

Let's say I have 5-10 pages that I need to increase the number of internal links to, but I have to find other ways to do it, not by bringing 1200+ extra links in the menu (the total number of third level categories). This does not seem like the right move. All my important pages are in level 2 (few are in level 3).
3:56 pm on Jan 31, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Google won't care what "two levels of category" is, they'll see categories and with 2 levels of them they'll see double the categories. This will be problematic if page 1 and page 2 are identical not counting the links to articles.

What you describe may not be helpful to users either and will be treated as such. You'll get better results with just one link to any category and double the number of links to articles from there than you will from linking to two pages of a category.

Category pages don't always rank well, certainly not against a well written article entirely based on the subject who's content won't change(category pages change as content moves through to older pages).

Suggestion, link to more articles from page 1 of the categories, stop linking to page 2 in the menu, and interlink related articles much more. This will have the effect of drawing value away from the category pages onto the articles where you want it.
 

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