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7 Tips For Building SEO + UX-Minded Navigation

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7 Tips For Building SEO + UX-Minded Navigation

As digital marketers, it can feel like we’re chasing metrics that continuously move.

While arduous to some, it’s a passion for others. Either way, we’re always looking for the next genre of optimization that can get us closer to our goals.

While chasing bright and shiny marketing trends, obsessing over coveted SEO keyword rankings, creating content, or modifying paid search ads for better CTR, we need to stop and slow down to “see the forest for the trees.”

The core experience of your website that is shared between a user and a search engine is not solely your content; it is your main navigation.

Your main navigation is a vehicle to help a user get to your content and for a search engine to understand the hierarchy of your pages.

More importantly, it helps a user and a search engine understand what is important to your brand and what should be important to them. This is an elemental “salesperson” that is often overlooked.

So often, we traverse websites with way too much information presented in the main navigation which causes confusion.

On the other hand, as many sites have simplified for mobile-first consideration, the main navigation doesn’t provide enough guidance.

As we move forward, you will see several different considerations that should be made in optimizing the website’s main navigation.

Also, it bears mentioning that this process is not a one-person job. While data will tell us key factors in what users want, it takes the participation of multiple parties to exact the best navigational decisions. These include:

  • Leadership that can detail the future direction of the organization and what will become important in the future.
  • Sales support that can detail what prospects and customers continually ask for.
  • SEO providers can detail what is already heavily linked to on the website and what is not.

These seven tips can help you understand how users move through your website, where your navigation is insufficient, and how to improve it.

1. Analyze Google Analytics User Flow

Our first stop in the pursuit of the perfect main navigation is a review of how our current human audience is using our top link structure.

We want to make search engines happy, as well as show our content preference, but user experience trumps all of that.

Within your Google Analytics profile, navigate to Users Flow within the Audience segment. Initially, we want to see what the common user pathways are on the site.

Screenshot from Google Analytics, June 2022

Do you see defined movement behavior?

It is important here to review where someone landing on the homepage will do next as well as those that land on an internal page.

Are there any commonalities in second-page visit preference?

Next, as we have initially reviewed the Users Flow from an All Users view, create an advanced segment to view those visits that resulted in a conversion or transaction.

Analyze Google Analytics Users FlowScreenshot from Google Analytics, June 2022

Again, do you see defined movement behavior or similar to the common user?

Not to entice “rabbit-holing” in this style of review, but you have the ability to utilize other predefined advanced segments, as well as myriad options to choose from in creating custom advanced segments. You can view the journeys of:

  • New versus returning users.
  • Specific geographies and languages.
  • By referred traffic channels.
  • Even those that visited a specific section of the website during their visit.

2. Investigate Internal Site Search

We’ve investigated which navigational links web users traverse through to find content that they are interested in.

Let’s take a moment though to review the content they expect to see but are not finding.

Content that is not readily available or understood in the main navigation. You can do this by analyzing Site Search in Google Analytics.

Take a look at specific search terms the users type in, whether they refine their searches, and their exit rates.

This helps you understand what links and content they expect from your site, and what content they didn’t find in your main navigation.

Investigate Internal Site SearchScreenshot from Google Analytics, June 2022

Digging deeper,  you can also move past overall site search results to analyze data by the user’s respective starting pages. This can provide insight into additional navigational needs that may persist outside of the main navigation.

3. Visualize User Interaction With A Heat Map

In a previous analysis, we took more of a data-driven/numbers approach to understanding user behavior with main navigation.

Now, we step away from such granular behavior data to gain a visual feel of how users react to the main navigation.

To perform this exercise you will need a heat mapping data provider (I prefer Lucky Orange).

Pay close attention not only to the main navigation click movement of the homepage users but also to internal page user actions.

Most importantly, it is critical to review how behaviors change between desktop and mobile users.

Desktop and mobile examples:

Visualize User Interaction With A HeatmapScreenshot from Luckyorange.com, June 2022
Visualize User Interaction With A HeatmapScreenshot from Luckyorange.com, June 2022

You may notice in your application that desktop and mobile behavior may look very different as the example shows.

The presentations between desktop and mobile are often vastly different.

In a compressed display, you have to consider how easy or expandable the main navigation may be. Small font links do not get links.

It is worth mentioning that in your next website redesign, consider desktop navigation mimicking the above example.

This experience allows your desktop users a similar presentation to mobile users, beginning their website journey from only a few foundational points. This is becoming a common design presentation of simplicity.

You’ve done your due diligence in understanding user behavior. This is beginning to show important insight on what links or main navigational elements we must keep.

4. Teach Users What To Expect With Anchor Text

A phrase I have continuously told myself for two decades is to “get out of your head and into your customers.”

For example, your prospective customer doesn’t know what the “XL Custom Suite” is for “Preferred Users.” They are simply trying to understand what kind of services you offer.

Before you capitalize on promoting your branded offering in your main navigation, teach those entering your website what industry, product family, and product genre you serve.

What you should name your main navigational anchors relies heavily on a few areas.

First, enlist your sales, product, and service teams to understand how your customers and prospects refer to product or service offerings. Take on your customers’ mindset and your navigation will be all the better.

Second, keyword research means the world in this overall exercise. You can use Google Ads Keyword Planner or a third-party tool to research keyword demand and volume.

Teach Users What To Expect With Anchor TextScreenshot from Google Ads, June 2022

This research can tell you how users that reach your website search for and name your products and services. This information is vital when updating your main navigation anchor text.

Within the SEO realm, this keyword research also helps search engines to understand what product or service sectors you serve.

5. Find Your Top Linked Pages

To this point, we have been focused on user-specific data but let’s now put our attention on SEO.

Those well versed in SEO know that the more you link to content internally, the more it shows precedence on your website. This does not mean that you should spam links throughout your site.

But it’s important to link your pages to one another in the main navigation, footer navigation, supporting internal navigation, as well as cross-linking done in resource content.

However, today we are here to make sure important content is placed in the main navigation.

In Google Search Console within the Links section, specifically Internal Links, you will see Google’s report on the frequency of how you link to your internal site pages.

Find Your Top Linked PagesScreenshot from Google Search Console, June 2022

You obviously can see what internal pages you are linking to in your main navigation, but this report gives you a feel for instances when you may already be linking heavily in other supporting navigation instances.

Remember, we do not want to go too heavy on specific website internal linking but you may find out where you are greatly misrepresented.

If you see an abundance of internal links for pages that you deem less important, you want to investigate why and remove some of the links. Or, move them from primary to secondary navigation.

6. Mind Your SEO Basics

While anchor text does cover the on-page keyword relevancy needs of SEO, the primary main navigation SEO must-haves are rooted in technical considerations.

Think of this as the factor that surrounds the “efficiency of the crawl.”

Google and Bing have made great strides over the years in crawling and indexing JavaScript, but I still would steer clear of this style of navigation.

If you are accidentally robots.txt-excluding JavaScript on-site or not using preferred deployment such as Progressive Enhancement, you run the risk of possessing a main navigation that is difficult for a search engine to crawl.

The best practice is to ensure that your main navigation is constructed in an HTML format or what is commonly referred to as “a href” referenced links.

Mind Your SEO BasicsScreenshot from Trozzolo.com, June 2022

There is one mistake in the main navigation that occurs all too often.

Over the course of the life of a website, you redirect URLs. It’s easy to forget to update the main navigation to link to current page URLs. So, the main navigation link goes to a redirect.

Forcing a crawling search engine to endure a redirect will slow down crawl speed and give a less than efficient crawl for search engines.

To assess this potential issue in your main navigation’s current state, use the Chrome extension Check My Links. This tool will highlight any redirecting (and broken) links that may exist in your main navigation.

Mind Your SEO BasicsScreenshot from Check My Links, June 2022

As a best practice, this exercise should be executed each time the website is redesigned, both in redesign coding, Q/A, and post deployment.

7. Check What’s Ranking And What’s Not

By reviewing all of your top organic search rankings, you can get a feel for where you likely have sectional or hierarchical gaps.

Linking more so to these internal sections can convey importance to a search engine.

Example:

You may find that your homepage ranks well as well as product sub-category pages, but not the product parent category pages.

This can be caused by drop-down navigation which does a good job of linking to deeper site content, but the parent category is not linked to at all.

This causes a massive disproportion in the amount of linking and perceived importance at deeper site levels vs. parent level category pages.

A good first step is to create keyword buckets based on what composes your main navigation as well as your entire family of offerings.

Assess keyword research just as we did above but also take a look at competitor rankings to understand gaps that may exist.

To Link Or Not To Link

The steps that I have detailed are ultimately a deep dive into understanding what topics your audience has an interest in, what topics they want or expect us to have, as well as what content we need to portray importance to search engines.

As you hopefully take this main navigation audit to heart, pay attention in future months to improvements not only in conversion metrics and SEO rankings but in website user behavior metrics. These include bounce rate, time-on-site, and pages viewed per session.

Ultimately, these touchpoints will be the end-user and search engine’s way of thanking you for your hard work.

More Resources:


Featured Image: wee dezign/Shutterstock



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Attain Superior Growth & ROI With Organic & Paid Tips

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Holistic Search 2.0: Optimizing and Measuring Organic and Paid Performance

Silos don’t cut it anymore. User journeys are too complex for you to view and track channels separately.

To improve your campaign performance, you need a holistic view of your marketing activities and how they intertwine. This is especially true for organic and paid search strategies. 

You need to be front and center with your ideal customers at multiple touchpoints, including active interactions and passive awareness. An ideal marketing strategy has paid and organic campaigns working in tandem, and it’s becoming harder to succeed without doing both.

If you’re looking to drive quality growth in your own campaigns, iQuanti can help.

Join us live on July 24 as we delve into this intricate relationship between organic and paid search channels. You’ll get actionable insights for measuring success to maximize their combined potential.

You’ll gain a comprehensive, data-driven understanding of how to measure, analyze, and optimize holistic search marketing efforts, ensuring sustainable growth and superior ROI for your business.

You’ll walk away with:

  • Integrated Metrics and KPIs: Learn how to define and track key metrics to capture the performance of your organic and paid search campaigns, so you can make informed strategic decisions that work.
  • Attribution Models: You’ll see firsthand how strong attribution models are crucial to understanding your customers’ journeys, allowing you to identify influential touchpoints and allocate budget effectively for maximum ROI.
  • Optimization Strategies: You’ve gathered data from your campaigns…now what? Take the data and leverage it to further optimize your paid and organic search campaigns, increasing conversions along the way.

Shaubhik Ray, Senior Director of Digital Analytics Solutions at iQuanti is an expert at crafting holistic search strategies to reach more of your ideal audiences at relevant stages in their journeys. Now, he’s ready to share his insights with you.

You’ll walk away equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to execute a combined organic and paid strategy that improves the performance of each channel.  You’ll gain data-driven insights on how to align a combined strategy with business goals and lead your organization to success.

Sign up now and prepare to maximize the potential of combining your organic and paid campaigns.

At the end of the presentation, you’ll get a chance to ask Shaubhik your burning questions in our live Q&A, so be sure to attend.

And if you can’t make it that day, register here and we’ll send you a recording following the webinar. 

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Screaming Frog SEO Spider Version 20.0: AI-Powered Features

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What’s New with Screaming Frog SEO Spider 20.0?

For SEO experts, our toolkit is crucial. It’s how we make sure we can quickly and effectively assess how well our websites are performing. Using the best tools can put you way ahead of other SEOs. One example (and one tool I’ve personally been using for years) is Screaming FrogIt’s a powerful, straightforward, and insightful website crawler tool that’s indispensable for finding technical issues on your website.

And the good news is that it keeps getting better. Screaming Frog just released its 20th major version of the software, which includes new features based on feedback from SEO professionals.

Here are the main updates:

  1. Custom JavaScript Snippets
  2. Mobile Usability
  3. N-Grams Analysis
  4. Aggregated Anchor Text
  5. Carbon Footprint & Rating

Custom JavaScript Snippets

One of the standout features in this release is the ability to execute custom JavaScript snippets during a crawl. This functionality expands the horizons for data manipulation and API communication, offering unprecedented flexibility.

Use Cases:

  • Data Extraction and Manipulation: Gather specific data points or modify the DOM to suit your needs.
  • API Communication: Integrate with APIs like OpenAI’s ChatGPT from within the SEO Spider.

Setting Up Custom JS Snippets:

  • Navigate to `Config > Custom > Custom JavaScript`.
  • Click ‘Add’ to create a new snippet or ‘Add from Library’ to select from preset snippets.

setting up custom JS snippets screamingfrog 20setting up custom JS snippets screamingfrog 20

  • Ensure JavaScript rendering mode is set via `Config > Spider > Rendering`.

Crawl with ChatGPT:

  • Leverage the `(ChatGPT) Template` snippet, add your OpenAI API key and tailor the prompt to your needs.
  • Follow our tutorial on ‘How To Crawl With ChatGPT’ for more detailed guidance.

Sharing Your Snippets:

  • Export/import snippet libraries as JSON files to share with colleagues.
  • Remember to remove sensitive data such as API keys before sharing.

Introducing Custom JavaScript Snippets to Screaming Frog SEO Spider version 20.0 significantly enhances the tool’s flexibility and power. Whether you’re generating dynamic content, interacting with external APIs, or conducting complex page manipulations, these snippets open a world of possibilities. 

Mobile Usability

In today’s mobile-first world, ensuring a seamless mobile user experience is imperative. Version 20.0 introduces extensive mobile usability audits through Lighthouse integration. 

With an ever-increasing number of users accessing websites via mobile devices, ensuring a seamless mobile experience is crucial. Google’s mobile-first indexing highlights the importance of mobile usability, which directly impacts your site’s rankings and user experience.

 Mobile Usability Features:

  • New Mobile Tab: This tab includes filters for regular mobile usability issues such as viewport settings, tap target sizes, content sizing, and more.
  • Granular Issue Details: Detailed data on mobile usability issues can be explored in the ‘Lighthouse Details’ tab.
  • Bulk Export Capability: Export comprehensive mobile usability reports via `Reports > Mobile`.

Setup:

  • Connect to the PSI API through `Config > API Access > PSI` or run Lighthouse locally.

Example Use Cases:

  • Identify pages where content does not fit within the viewport.
  • Flag and correct small tap targets and illegible font sizes.

mobile usability analysis on screamingfrog 20mobile usability analysis on screamingfrog 20

With these new features, Screaming Frog SEO Spider version 20.0 streamlines the process of auditing mobile usability, making it more efficient and comprehensive. By integrating with Google Lighthouse, both via the PSI API and local runs, the tool provides extensive insights into the mobile performance of your website. Addressing these issues not only enhances user experience but also improves your site’s SEO performance.

N-grams Analysis

N-grams analysis is a powerful new feature that allows users to analyze phrase frequency across web pages. This can greatly enhance on-page SEO efforts and internal linking strategies.

Setting Up N-grams:

  • Activate HTML storage by enabling ‘Store HTML’ or ‘Store Rendered HTML’ under `Config > Spider > Extraction`.
  • View the N-grams in the lower N-grams tab.

n-grams analysis on screamingfrog 20n-grams analysis on screamingfrog 20

Example Use Cases:

  • Improving Keyword Usage: Adjust content based on the frequency of targeted N-grams.
  • Optimizing Internal Links: Use N-grams to identify unlinked keywords and create new internal links.

Internal Linking Opportunities:

The N-grams feature provides a nuanced method for discovering internal linking opportunities, which can significantly enhance your SEO strategy and site navigation.

The introduction of N-grams analysis in Screaming Frog SEO Spider version 20 provides a tool for deep content analysis and optimization. By understanding the frequency and distribution of phrases within your content, you can significantly improve your on-page SEO and internal linking strategies.

Aggregated Anchor Text

Effective anchor text management is essential for internal linking and overall SEO performance. The aggregated anchor text feature in version 20.0 provides clear insights into how anchor texts are used across your site.

Using Aggregated Anchor Text:

  • Navigate to the ‘Inlinks’ or ‘Outlinks’ tab.
  • Utilize the new ‘Anchors’ filters to see aggregated views of anchor text usage.

aggregated anchor text report on screamingfrog 20aggregated anchor text report on screamingfrog 20

Practical Benefits:

  • Anchor Text Diversity: Ensure a natural distribution of anchor texts to avoid over-optimization.
  • Descriptive Linking: Replace generic texts like “click here” with keyword-rich alternatives.

The aggregated anchor text feature provides powerful insights into your internal link structure and optimization opportunities. This feature is essential if you are looking to enhance your site’s internal linking strategy for better keyword relevance, user experience, and search engine performance.

Aligning with digital sustainability trends, Screaming Frog SEO Spider version 20.0 includes features to measure and optimize your website’s carbon footprint.

Key Features:

  • Automatic CO2 Calculation: The SEO Spider now calculates carbon emissions for each page using the CO2.js library.
  • Carbon Rating: Each URL receives a rating based on its emissions, derived from the Sustainable Web Design Model.
  • High Carbon Rating Identification: Pages with high emissions are flagged in the ‘Validation’ tab.

Practical Applications:

  • Resource Optimization: Identify and optimize high-emission resources.
  • Sustainable Practices: Implement changes such as compressing images, reducing script sizes, and using green hosting solutions.

The integration of carbon footprint calculations in Screaming Frog SEO Spider signifies a growing recognition of digital sustainability. As more businesses adopt these practices, we can collectively reduce the environmental impact of the web while driving performance and user satisfaction.

Other Updates

In addition to major features, version 20.0 includes numerous smaller updates and bug fixes that enhance functionality and user experience.

Rich Result Validation Enhancements:

  • Split Google Rich Result validation errors from Schema.org.
  • New filters and columns provide detailed insights into rich result triggers and errors.

Enhanced File Types and Filters:

  • Internal and external filters include new file types such as Media, Fonts, and XML.

Website Archiving:

  • A new option to archive entire websites during a crawl is available under `Config > Spider > Rendering > JS`.

Viewport and Screenshot Configuration:

  • Customize viewport and screenshot sizes to fit different audit needs.

API Auto Connect:

  • Automatically connect APIs on start, making the setup process more seamless.

Resource Over 15MB Filter:

  • A new validation filter flags resources over 15MB, which is crucial for performance optimization.

Page Text Export:

  • Export all visible page text through the new `Bulk Export > Web > All Page Text` option.

Lighthouse Details Tab:

  • The ‘PageSpeed Details’ tab has been renamed ‘Lighthouse Details’ to reflect its expanded role.

HTML Content Type Configuration:

  • An ‘Assume Pages are HTML’ option helps accurately classify pages without explicit content types.

Bug Fixes and Performance Improvements:

  • Numerous small updates and fixes enhance stability and reliability. 

Screaming Frog SEO Spider version 20.0 is a comprehensive update packed with innovative features and enhancements that cater to the evolving needs of SEO professionals like us. From advanced data extraction capabilities with Custom JavaScript Snippets to environmental sustainability with Carbon Footprint and Rating, this release sets a new benchmark in SEO auditing tools.

Key Takeaway

Add this to your toolbox, or update to version 20 to explore the rich array of new features from Screaming Frog to optimize your website’s SEO, usability, and sustainability. It’s a no-fuss tool with tons of features that will help you stay ahead of your competitors, and ensure your websites perform optimally in terms of user experience and search engine visibility.

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Google Simplifies Adding Shipping & Return Policies For Online Stores

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woman online shopper affixes a barcode sticker to a cardboard box, marking it for return and refund

Google introduces Search Console feature for online stores to easily manage shipping and return policies.

  • Google now allows online stores to manage shipping and return policies via Search Console.
  • This simplifies providing vital information to customers.
  • The feature can potentially boost sales for retailers.

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