Quick Improvements #2: A Better Navigation
Today's Editor's Picks
Navigation is a very important element for any website because it’s how your visitors finds vital information and discovers your message.
The focus of this “Quick Improvements” part puts the focus on improving navigation at a fundamental level so you’re not leaving your visitors scratching their heads trying to figure out what to do.
The article will take you through the variations in navigation design, correct use of related items, building a long-term navigation strategy, and how to do all of this without losing precious SEO rankings.
Completion of these items range from 1 – 3 hours which may sound like a lot but can have substantial benefits for your website and your business; let’s get started …
Traditional, Drop-Down, and Mega Displays
There is no true “perfect” site navigation as it is wholly dependent on the interaction of your site visitors which may be wildly different compared to other competitors in the market. However, we all understand the basics of navigation and seek common elements because they are so widespread across nearly every website we come across.
A clean, intuitive navigation, that fits your website, will increase conversions because an individual can find your information and the affiliate offers synonymous with the content; it’s likely your navigation was built upon a template which may not work for your site – - but these items are easy to tweak.
Take a look at the three most common and take each into consideration for which may work best for your website and then apply them to your site, while testing, to encourage a deep website experience for your visitors.
A traditional navigation is what you’ll find on most websites where the main categories and pages are listed either horizontal or vertical. These are very easy to understand because they’ve been the basis for nearly all navigational design since the early days of the Web. Overall, it’s as basic as you can get without adding too much confusion to the navigation process.
- They’re tried and tested
- They point out the main navigation options
- They’re perfect for SEO
- They may not explain what a visitor may find on the page (coherently)
- There may be sub-pages associated with the main navigation that might be missed
- They can quickly become overwhelming with too many pages in need of listing
A drop-down menu, like what you find here on AffiliatePrograms.com, is the next level over the traditional design because it displays sub-pages and sub-categories to the main item. Drop-down menus are commonplace on those websites and blogs that cover a wide range of topics or need to display many pages for their business without creating additional steps in order to get to these pages.
- It gives a visitor the ability to dig deep into the site from the home page
- There’s really no limit as to how deep the drop-down menu may go
- It keeps the navigation nice and clean
- A visitor may not know it’s a multi-level drop down and miss vital sub-pages
- Not all drop-down menus work well in mobile and tablet formats
- It’s easy to overload the drop-down with unnecessary items
Mega menus are what you’d frequently find on eCommerce websites that want to show items within the navigation such as a few of the hot sellers but you can also see this in modern designs which display post thumbnails next to existing navigational elements.
- Creates attention to the recent/trending items displayed
- Added design elements makes it intuitive to use
- It looks great (when used in the right environment)
- They’re not that great for search engine optimization
- It’s not something you just roll out on your current design (with ease)
- Many of them are very clunky in mobile browsers
Overall, your best bet is to choose a navigation that removes as many steps as possible to help your visitor quickly get to their desired information; if you have a simple site than stick to the traditional menu scheme otherwise branch out into drop-down or mega menus if your site is bulky and robust.
Digging Deeper with Related Items
The display and interlinking of related items adds a deep dimension of navigation as it guides an individual throughout your website (and further into your marketing message).
Individuals landing on your website may immediately gravitate to the first content item displayed and then to the sidebar for some kind of guidance (such as a popular post list); this is because it’s not always intuitive as to what one should do when they’ve found a new resource.
Here are three of these related items that you can use to build an effective deep navigation through your site (and also solve the problem if a visitor becomes lost and frustrated when seeking information).
Related posts can be found in many areas of a site most often appearing at the bottom of a blog post or off to the sidebar using a widget/plugin. Displaying these related posts can add to the value you share within the post they currently view; it gives them a reason to explore your website and gain a deeper understanding of your message and brand.
The disadvantages of related posts may be that you cause a distraction from your call-to-action; visitors digging through the content and straight into the next may miss those important affiliate offers. Related posts may also prevent individuals from leaving a comment, sharing the piece, or acting upon your information because they’re already moving to the next.
Popular posts are a dime a dozen; you’re never quite sure which one takes off and which one becomes a dud. The best approach is to keep improving your content and value on the page.
In time, you can use plugins or curate content based on analytics to display popular posts; these posts are the ones often associated to your brand so it’s a good idea to get those powerful posts out in the open for new and existing visitors – - more often than not these may also be the pages that earn you the most affiliate income such as an in-depth tutorial or review.
The disadvantages of popular posts mainly come from the fact that the posts may not truly represent your brand as it stands now. Popular post plugins can be configured to reset based on day/week/month/all-time but your brand may have already moved away from its content/information which creates a fissure in what you represent in the present day; this may not seem like a big deal but can cause hurdles in your conversions because you’re sharing two different messages between past and present content.
There are many times when you create content or a particular page but it gets passed over for other popular items (or simply because the navigation doesn’t allow for ease of access). At this point you may want to try a curated list of suggested items; these may be the pieces you’re most proud of and want to be seen – - they may also be reviews, case studies, and interviews that don’t gain a lot of attention but are known to convert and create engagement.
The disadvantages you’ll find with suggested items is that you may not truly know what the visitor wants after they’ve spent time on the page; it’s very much like a shot in the dark. You can, however, use analytics to gain a better idea of what to suggest but it’s not truly recommended if you’re taking a guess otherwise you’re using up precious digital real estate that could have gone to better call-to-actions.
Overall, test each of these items on your site at the bottom of your content and sidebar. Track the engagement for the navigational items and remove those that fail to perform. Create an ecosystem where individuals naturally gravitate to the deeper end of your site and become engrained in the sales funnel for your affiliate offers.
The Call for Silo Pages
Lastly, which will be a quick one, is the use of silo pages which are nothing more than a curated page of your best information related to a particular topic.
See more with our guide to money pages.
We’re taking a mention to these items in this “quick improvements” because they can be a great way to teach your visitors how to navigate your website and seek out the best information. The silo pages collect the work you want them to see, does great in search engines, and lets the visitor explore a wide variety of content from a single page versus having to dig through category lists and sub-pages.
Overall, consider using one or two silo pages such as a “start here” or “the best of” to see if it aids in creating an intuitive experience of navigation for your visitors; if it doesn’t add much than go ahead and drop it from the list.
Navigation, as you can tell, is quite complex considering the user experience and sales funnel but these tweaks can be done in a short amount of time. We suggest you examine each of these main elements of navigation and make the necessary updates so you don’t miss out on the important conversions.
What forms of navigation do you like the best? How are you showing related items? Are you using silo pages in your design? Share a comment and share the post!