How, When & Why to use
Navigation pages typically consist of the homepage, category and sub-category pages, blog rolls, search results and sitemaps. These pages help visitors find the right path to explore your site and find the content they are most interested in.
Features and Functions
Navigation pages are critical pages on your website that serve the essential function of helping visitors find what they are looking for. This is done by providing links to deeper content. These pages are typically great points of entry for new visitors because they are designed as a stepping stone in the user experience that helps put each person on the right path. Unfortunately, content is missing from these pages far too often. Remember, event though your page seems very intuitive to you, your visitors could usually benefit from some direction and instruction. Also, if you want the page to rank well in search engines, it is critically important to include a lot of written content. If you are worried that a lot of written content may compromise the design of the page, you can place the majority of that content within an expandable div so that it is there if the user wants to see it, but takes up minimal screen real estate if they don’t.
Site architecture, technical optimization and backlinking aside, these are the on-page SEO considerations that relate most directly to navigation pages:
- Links should be optimized with anchor text and title tags to match the title, H1 or an H2 from the page they are pointing to.
- Images should be optimized by renaming the image and including an alt tag that match the main keyword for the destination page.
- Images should be used as navigation links when appropriate, and when used as links should include title tags.
- Include at least 400-500 words of static content about that page and the role it plays in directing users to deeper pages within your site.
- Optimize the content according to the static content optimization guidelines.
Marketing, Syndication, Distribution, Social Engagement
These pages are great resources and can rank highly in search results if well optimized and proven to be valuable to the online community. Search engines will use the backlink profile of the page as proof of that value. Therefore, once the navigation page is live, do the following;
- Make sure that the page is linked to from every page on your site that is appropriate.
- Make sure the page is included in your XML sitemap.
- Bookmark the page (see list of bookmarking site)
- Submit the page to directories
- Post social links to the page as a great resource, the post should talk about its relevance and ask people to like, share and bookmark the page
- If the page has an RSS feed, like a blog roll, then add that RSS feed to every appropriate RSS directory (see list of rss directories)
- Include links to the page on offsite blogs, guest posts and articles
- On Q&A sites (see list of Q&A sites) find relevant questions or forum discussions and add comments with a link back to your navigation page citing it as a great resource.