It takes more than a beautiful web design to impress readers and search engines. If you want to improve your search rankings and achieve those all-important conversions, it’ll also take a good website structure. Keep reading to learn about the importance of menu hierarchy for usability, engagement and SEO.
How your menu hierarchy affects usability and engagement
If your menu hierarchy is jumbled and your website is hard to navigate, users aren’t going to stick around and hope they’ll eventually find the content they need. Instead, they’re going to close the tab and open a new one featuring one of your competitors’ websites.
Menu hierarchy has a huge impact on usability and engagement. Keep it clear, easy to use and logical and you will achieve high levels of engagement and increased conversions. Leave it in a mess and your Google Analytics page will end up telling you that most people click off your site within seconds of entering it.
Improving menu hierarchy for SEO
The better your site structure, the greater chance you stand of ranking well in search engines. Every website has some form of structure, though some are much more organised than others. If you want to achieve excellent search results, you need to carefully improve your menu hierarchy and ensure it is fully streamlined.
Really it all comes down to usability. The easier your site is for users to navigate, the more appealing it will be to search engines too. Remember that Google and other search engines are there to please users and therefore take the usability of websites into consideration when ranking them.
Google’s search algorithm uses a plethora of information related to usability when ranking your website. If your site has a great menu hierarchy and is easy to navigate, users will stay on it longer (reducing your bounce rate), visite more pages and are more likely to convert. Whereas if your site has poor menu hierarchy and is difficult to browse, your bounce rate will be high and your click-through rate low. This information is then processed and used to determine where you rank on search engine results pages.
Generating site links with a good menu hierarchy
Often search engines like Google use site links on their SERPs. This is a type of listing format that shows your site’s main page, along with a number of internal links below.
Site links offer a number of significant benefits. They guide users to the most relevant information, improve the navigability of your website, help you stand out on SERPs, increase click-through rates and shorten the conversion process.
However, you’re only going to be able to benefit from site links if you have a great menu hierarchy. Google automatically awards site links to websites that are easy to navigate, so if you want to receive all of the benefits above, you need to get to work on improving your website’s navigation.
Make your site easier to crawl
The better your site structure is, the easier it will be for search engine crawlers to access and index your content. Whilst Google has openly said that it may never discover everything on your website, good site structure has been proven to increase the number of pages that are indexed, thus improving the chances of your site popping up on relevant SERPs.
Tips for improving your menu hierarchy:
1. Plan out your hierarchy before creating (or changing it on) your site
If you have not yet started developing your website, now’s the perfect time to work on your menu hierarchy. Plan out something that is simple and will make sense to users. If you already have a website publish, don’t worry, there is always room to improve and you’ll be able to update your menu hierarchy.
2. Make sure your URL structure and navigation follows your hierarchy
When creating your URL structure and navigation, make sure it follows the menu hierarchy you have created. Create a header featuring the main categories (between two and seven) and make your subcategories easily accessible from those main categories. Keep testing your site for usability.
3. Don’t forget your internal linking strategy
Internal linking is also integral to your website’s SEO and usability. Internal links help users to navigate a website, whilst also establishing the information hierarchy for the website. They can also have SEO benefits as they help to pass on link juice to deeper web pages.