Guide to Site Navigation for Organic Search

Businesses that depend on their website for a significant amount of their revenue need to dot every i and cross every t in optimizing their website for SEO. One often overlooked step in the process of improving the organic search rank of your website is internal site navigation.

For optimum SEO, a website should not be structured hierarchically like a table of contents. It certainly needs to have a logical structure that visitors can understand to find what they are looking for, but for optimum organic search results, the internal navigation of the website needs to be structured around the themes that visitors to the website are searching for.

This article is designed to serve as a brief guide to building site navigation that’s optimal for search engines (and visitors). Keep in mind this is really just an introduction to the subject.

Universal Navigation

Part of how search engines determine how important each page on your site is your internal link structure. The importance of a page is based on the number of links from other pages on your website to a specific page. Using universal navigation — the menu bar across the top of nearly every website that provides links that visitors will most likely want to see — means that virtually every page on your website links to each of those pages. This in turn means that your Universal Navigation pages will nearly always be ranked as the most important pages to Google and other search engines.

By the same token, the pages you want visitors to land on should be in your Universal Navigation. After you determine where your visitors are coming from and where they are landing, then you can create ‘category’ pages to add to your UN. These category pages, however, must link to actual content pages. Just filling the category pages with links to subpages with content will not do. The category pages themselves need substantial, relevant content for optimum SERP ranking.


A “breadcrumb” (or “breadcrumb trail”) is a secondary navigation scheme that tracks the location of a visitor in a website. Just like in the Hansel and Gretel fairytale, breadcrumbs allow visitors a method to trace their way back to their original landing point.

You don’t need breadcrumbs for a basic, easy-to-navigate website, but breadcrumbs are very useful in navigating through larger websites (especially large ecommerce operations). Breadcrumbs not only make it easier for visitors to accomplish their goals on your website, they also keep visitors interest in your website and reduce bounce rates.

You can set up location-based, attribute based or path based breadcrumbs, with each type working best with specific website navigational structures. Note that breadcrumbs are not a good idea in websites that allow a lower-level page to be put in more than one parent category as it is likely to confuse visitors.

Optimizing Link Text

Links that point to your site should contain keyword variations relating to the theme of your site. A link from a blog at a museum website to the page of your handcrafted jewelry website that displays reproductions of several of the antique museum pieces should contain words like antique jewelry reproductions or the name of your business.

This holds true within your website as well. You want links from one page to another page of your site to be made with a keyword relating to the topic of the page. For example, the link from your landing page to the reproductions of the antique museum pieces page should be made using text such as museum reproductions rather than nondescriptive text like click here or the link below.

Internal site navigation can be a complicated and sophisticated project. If you have any other questions about it or any other aspect of digital optimization, then please contact us today.