In their quest for optimizing internal link building structure webmasters usually forget one of the most important parts of this process – usability. However, SEO should not interrupt site usability, more than that, user-friendly sites looks much more valuable for search engines.
Well-thought consists of three main parts: distribution of static page weight, incoming link weight and navigation. While first and second points are SEO-oriented, only the last one has its means in usability. In this article we’ll discuss optimization of internal content navigation.
The term “navigation” is a very wide one, same as “search”. Basic navigation elements on website are well-known and are used often: main menu, secondary menu, breadcrumbs, linked pages, etc. Much less spread are content linking, when you put a link inside your content, that is leading on another page of the same site(like in Wikipedia).
Let’s take a closer look on content navigation.
Importance of content navigation.
As usabilitists say, site main page is the one, that user comes to (e.g. from google). In case of content project, lots of incoming traffic comes to content pages(articles, news, blog posts, etc.) and user’s attitude and his possible comeback depends on that page and user’s interaction experience. Correct link appearance inside the content can improve usability and help user in his search. Your objective, as content project manager is to involve visitor in some kind of cooperation. You don’t want user to read the article and just go away, you should lead him deeper and deeper, involving him, and then convering him( in community member, client, partner or employee).
To involve visitor, you must show him, that site is not a single page, he randomly stumbled upon, but is full of stuff, that could be useful for him and mayhap some of it is what he was looking for .
Remember, how, when you’ve read some interesting article that used some words or expressions, you’ve never heard before, but are associated with it. If you don’t fully understand what that particular word means or even see it for the first time, you may wonder what does it actually means, thus becoming motivated to research it. And if you don’t find a link to explanation inside that article, occasionally you’ll end up googling it. So instead of involving visitor deeper in exploration of your site, you sending him outside.
For example: you’re reading an article about Laplace operator. One of your friends gave you the link, and you want to find out what is it. The article says:
Well, it’s great if you know what the gradient and divergence are, but if your visitor does not, and there are no links to explanation within your site, user most likely would search it either through in-site search engine, or an external one.
If article is a large one, and is using some special terms, and it seems acceptable to place there a link to already existing page, do it. If you don’t have one, you’d like to consider of creating one, it would be good not just to keep user on your site, but for SEO means also. Terms and uncommon expressions are not only words to use in your in-content link building, you can also link any relating news or other publications on the same topic, similar articles. But don’t stuff your content with links, use them wisely.
Well-done navigation should meet user’s expectations. It would not only improve site’s positions for low-frequency queries in SERP, but also it can solve some of site’s primary tasks, such as:
- Increase number of pages viewed by single visitor
- Improve user experience (raise number of pages viewed, lessen bounce rate)
- Make user familiar with site’s interface (users are more loyal to website they know to be useful)
- Engage the audience (it’s a first step towards creation of your own community)
- Improve conversion rate.
Yes, oddly enough, but internal link building does affect the conversion rate! Good navigation improves usability, and usability in turn improves conversion rate, therefore, content interlinking issue should have been paid quite serious attention.