Better Website Optimization Continued

By October 12, 2012Uncategorized

Optimizing Navigation Keywords

Cascading Style Sheet (CSS)-based rollovers provide an excellent visual compromise between the need to have links in the website navigation and the desire to present a visually pleasing and usable feature. Even though the links aren’t all visible in first view, when rolled over the full list of links comes into view. As long as the rollover is coded so that the links are listed out as plain HTML for user agents that don’t support JavaScript, CSS or cookies, search engine crawlers will have full access to the links in the rollover.

The other important factor in optimizing navigation for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefit is keyword usage. Because every link sends a keyword signal via the anchor text, every link is a chance to communicate which keyword phrases each page should rank for.

Don’t rely on your brand recognition or visual cues to set the context for the navigational keywords in your website. If your site sells toys and “Wooden Toys” is a category of product you offer, the navigation should read “Wooden Toys” rather than just “Wooden.” It’s important to use moderation as well, though. Using exact keyword phrases for every navigational link can lead to cluttered visual experience, loss of quick customer understanding of the offerings and even “¦ over-optimization. Rely on keyword research data to identify the most valuable keywords to use exactly in the navigation. Keywords that represent fewer searches can more easily be truncated.

Keep in mind that keyword signals depend upon HTML text. Using images instead of textual content in your website navigation keyword links removes the ability to send that keyword signal. It is possible to use CSS image replacement in the rollovers to display navigational images to browsers that support CSS and JavaScript, but textual content to browsers “” and search engines “” do not. Many sites use this option when a particular font is important to the brand or design.

Be very careful when using CSS image replacement to use the exact same words in the HTML text version of your website navigation keyword links as in the images. While traditional crawlers do not support CSS and JavaScript, search engines also employ headless browsers that can support these technologies. Search engines then algorithmically compare the two versions of the indexed page. If the plain HMTL text version contains more juicy keywords, links, or other evidence of hidden content meant to manipulate rankings, the page or the site as a whole could be penalized and optimizing site navigation efforts diminished.


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