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Setting up Navigation for SEO

     
3:19 pm on Oct 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

SEO beginner here, so please excuse the dumb question. I'm not sure how exactly Google interprets # links in navigation (links that just open a menu on hover). The site I'm working on will be organized around topical pages. Those topical pages would contain product links. I'm going for a pretty flat structure, 3-4 clicks to reach any page.

But, there are too many topical pages to list them all on level 0 of the main menu. I'm thinking of adding a menu item "ALL PAGES" on level zero (not a link, just #), which would open a submenu on hover, containing the topical pages.

Is it bad SEO if my navigation structure has an extra step in regards to site structure? Will Google interpret the site and navigation structure as the same? Here's what I have in mind (topical pages contain links to each products page):

SITE STRUCTURE:

HOME

- TOPICALPAGE1
product1
product2
product3

- TOPICALPAGE2
product4
product5

- TOPICALPAGE3
product6
product7
product8


NAVIGATION STRUCTURE:

HOME
|
ALL PAGES
|
- TOPICALPAGE1
- TOPICALPAGE2
- TOPICALPAGE3
- TOPICALPAGE4
- TOPICALPAGE5
- TOPICALPAGE6

Obviously, ALL PAGES will be on every page of the website. But what happens with links in that menu, topical pages, which are the ones I want to rank?
4:55 pm on Oct 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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<tangent>
# links in navigation (links that just open a menu on hover)
Is that why sites have dead links? Just to create an <a> element so there's something to attach the ":hover" style to? As a human user it drives me up the wall when I click on an apparent link and it doesn't go anywhere. Find a way to do it without the do-nothing # link. (You can attach :hover to things other than <a>. I do it with <li>.)
</tangent>
5:03 pm on Oct 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld LearningStage

Is this a theoretical site or a real one?

there are too many topical pages


What do you qualify as "too many"?

I used to have a site with over 1,000 links in its navigation and Google listed all of them fine, then they changed it to 100, I have no idea if they have any recommendations now.

I assume this is an informational site?

3-4 clicks to reach any page.


For me that is at least 2 clicks too many however it really will depend on how many pages there are in total.

My Advice!

You need to construct your navigation based upon a mobile / responsive site, this will tell you just how many links are easily usable by the majority of users these days, it should inform you your overall site structure and folder planning. You have to construct something which is useable by everyone, not just one demographic set of, say, desktop users.

You'll find a pen and paper come in very handly when first designing the structure:-)
11:59 pm on Oct 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Is that why sites have dead links? Just to create an <a> element so there's something to attach the ":hover" style to? As a human user it drives me up the wall when I click on an apparent link and it doesn't go anywhere. Find a way to do it without the do-nothing # link. (You can attach :hover to things other than <a>. I do it with <li>.)


@lucy24 whoops, that was an error on my part, I was writing without thinking. Yes, it's not going to be #, it's just a simple menu that opens on hover. It's been awhile since I last built a website, so I mixed things up.
12:32 am on Oct 21, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@RedBar

Welcome to WebmasterWorld LearningStage

Is this a theoretical site or a real one?
Thanks! It's a real site, but of course, I can't give out the real name of the company.

What do you qualify as "too many"?

I used to have a site with over 1,000 links in its navigation and Google listed all of them fine, then they changed it to 100, I have no idea if they have any recommendations now.

I assume this is an informational site?
It's possible than I'm confusing terms here. I am talking about the top menu, level 0. On this site that would be the one containing: My Webmaster World, Pro Membership, Tools, Recent posts etc. - 7 items in total - if there was e.g. 12 of them, it wouldn't look good. And that's exactly my problem, the optimal site structure (1-2 clicks to every page) would require putting more links on level 0 than the top menu can handle visually.

It's a small booking site, with trip types being the equivalent of categories. In the site structure the trip types are directly under homepage, but I can't put them all on level 0 in the menu, so I have to add a submenu "All Trip Types". Will that be an SEO problem?

(I apologize for making this sound much more complicated than it really is.)
1:24 am on Oct 21, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Your menu structure should be FIRST to serve the user. Second to make sense and group things as a webmaster.

Ignore G for most things, they aren't your user or your potential customer.

That said, don't do something stupid.

More than two clicks to get to content will lose traffic (they don't have that kind of patience)

And, as has been asked, what is "many"?

Sometimes you need to re-think "navigation". A sidebar with the CATEGORY HEADERS works a treat. ALSO a built in internal SEARCH option on sites with multi-zillion products is your best friend.

Amazon, Walmart, etc have the best examples of "too many to list" for showing product on the web. Look at what they are doing and go from there.

ELSE, refine your categories, have each as a start point on the INDEX (home) page and each of those can lead to a sub page with the second tier granularity.

At some point you can't list everything if you play be g's arbitrary rules. Or, and I have not seen any adverse effects, you can ignore g's arbitrary rules and still get everything indexed.

Pick and choose ... but more than three clicks to content is the kiss of death.
1:29 am on Oct 21, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@LearningStage ... meant to include a hearty "Welcome to Webmasterworld!"...

Why worry about navigation and "seo" are low priorities is the search engines deliver your traffic to the PAGES indexed, not the navigation. The navigation is INTERNAL to the site and should be the best it can be for the USER who will "click one more link" while they are on your site.

Always SUGGEST and new direction for those so inclined ... you just might make a user for life!
1:58 pm on Oct 21, 2019 (gmt 0)

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it's just a simple menu that opens on hover.

if there was e.g. 12 of them, it wouldn't look good.

Hover doesn't work on mobile.
12 items don't fit across a mobile screen.
Google crawls using mobile crawler. So none of what you are describing will be relevant to how Google see's your site. How does your menu look on mobile?
2:48 pm on Oct 21, 2019 (gmt 0)

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12 items don't fit across a mobile screen.

There is more than one way of creating a mobile menu other than the widely-used hamburger menu and, in my opinion, far superior and more efficient ... But I would say that since I created it:-)

However you are correct as I stated earlier:
You need to construct your navigation based upon a mobile / responsive site
5:37 pm on Oct 27, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Ok, I guess I made it all sound much more complex than it is.

At this stage, I do not have the authorization to change anything, including the way menus are built. since we are putting new content out, I have a chance to make a better site/menu structure, since current one is a horrible mess.

I just need to know if it's ok to put the pages that are directly under the homepage (trip types) in one one common submenu titled "All trips"? Will Google interpret it correctly? From the human side it's ok, since there is not so much content, making it very easy to find stuff.
1:06 am on Oct 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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One can only speculate on what g values as "content". If it works for your users is the real metric. Sometimes chasing SEO is more trouble than it is worth.

YMMV

.
1:07 am on Oct 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

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As for a sub "all trips", that actually makes sense.
7:47 pm on Oct 29, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thanx. I thought so, but it's better to ask.

Now, just one more thing - if the word trips was in the domain name, calling the submenu "all trips" would be keyword stuffing, right? Is it better to use a synonym?
8:49 am on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Probably not ... then again you could drag out a Thesaurus and look up alternative words for "trips" ... "Itineraries" comes to mind. :)

Above all things, keep the click level as close to TWO as possible for the user to get to content!

ALSO bear in mind that g (or other search engines) will present you end pages (landing pages) for searches, not YOUR FRONT PAGE WITH NAVIGATION. They are about providing "answers" and have no concerns about your fancy navigation.

THAT SAID: IF you become a multinational portal for users, with a name brand that sparks their typing it in without using a search engine, then your front page navigation can be whatever you need it to be.

Example: major travel or air line companies that do not rely on the web in the first place.
1:13 pm on Oct 30, 2019 (gmt 0)

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RedBar and tangor have given great responses, and I suggest re-reading them several times to fully understand what they are saying.

In addition, and a common suggestion, look at how others in your niche/industry are doing something. Hopefully common sense will provide a good guide to follow…and what not to.