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I am creating page templates for my new ASP site. I read that you should put your vertical links on the right side of the page. Why? Because SE spiders begin on the left. You want them to see the unique page content before they see your vertical link bar . . . which will be repeated on every page.
Is this advice correct? Or not?
This is a long winded way of saying it probably is not the best idea, IMHO.
Why? Because SE spiders begin on the left
not quite true. spiders read from top to bottom of the page, if you will. what's first thing they encounter depends on how you structure and deliver content, For example, you can have classic three column page layout (as seen by human visitor) where contents of the middle column will be encountered first by the spider. This is easyly achived with little bit of CSS...
Get Lynx browser (free) or any other 'non-graphical' spider (such as used by visually impaired) to see how your page renders and is seen by spiders.(that will tell you what is seen first....). Also look into CSS for content delivery and presentation
(This natural tendency is why the "bigger" stories in your newspaper are often placed further to the right on the page, with column ads and internal information placed more to the left.)
However, from a technical standpoint, having the navigation on the right makes sense since that is where your mouse is to scroll the page.
...I wish I still had my Psych 101 text from college, so I could provide some references for the documentation....
Example of an eyetracking "heatmap" that shows how much users looked at different parts of a Web page. Areas where users looked the most are colored red; the yellow areas indicate fewer fixations, followed by the least-viewed blue areas. Gray areas didn't attract any fixations.
F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content
Eyetracking visualizations show that users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.
If you look at the research on eye tracking, that right hand side is oblivious to the majority of "average surfers". I really wish it were not that way as I agree, for most, the cursor is resting somewhere on the right hand side of the page during browsing.
I typically Source Order html content so I'm going to end up with main content first, left and right navigation and then the header and footer. It all depends on the makeup of those include files as to which is ordered what way.
For users? Typically primary nav at top and left, secondary nav at right.
read that you should put your vertical links on the right side of the page
I've done that for years and it has worked just fine for me.
I don't particularly worry what part of the page my users might look at first, as long as they can easily identify the things they need and where they might want to go next.
telling the spider which content to read in which order
Spiders will read your source code from beginning to end, plowing straight through without jumping around. So you don't exactly "tell the spider", you just control what they see first or last by the way you organize your material and the order things appear in your source code.