If you’re not on the menu, you’re not coming in.

Ian Hancock Search Engine Optimisation

Every day I look at a lot of websites. And every day, I’m faced with the same issues of poor navigation and menu design. I believe basic usability is not a science, it’s common sense – and one which everyone has the ability to think through and implement. However, on many websites, it’s clear that aesthetics still rule over usability. A disproportional amount of time is being spent to make a site look great, and not enough time spent making it work great.

One issue that continually frustrates me, is the seeming infatuation with requiring every page in the website to be available from the main menu structure. This ultimately results in unwieldy menus, roll outs and multiple levels of deep navigation (and certainly not good SEO practise).

These site owners are missing the point. Effective site navigation is not limited to the menu structure alone. Also available is a page of targeted information, and one of the the fundemental building blocks of the internet – Links (URL’s or Uniform Resource Locator). Internal on-page links are still a hugely underused form of navigation. Properly implemented, they provide targeted information to the site user, a flowing user experience, simplify the main navigation, and feed the search engines with keyword rich links (consider an internal link a superfood!). Internal links can also be used to create a persuasive journey through a site, guiding your site visitor towards a targeted, and therefore higher probability conversion.

A few basic tips to look out for when implementing internal links:

Make internal links keyword targeted (example: if you’re linking to a page about keyword research, make sure the link contains ‘keyword research‘)

Ensure the link is linking to a targeted page that will be useful to the visitor

If the link is within a body of text, make the link standout i.e. bold, underlined or both. You could also make it react when a visitor hovers over the text i.e. change colour, underline (I wouldn’t recommend going from normal to bold as this ‘shifts’ the text when the linking text gets larger)

Check your links work!

Good luck with the internal linking.