Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on October 1st, 2010

How to Set an Optimized Course for Drupal Navigation

Ask any sailor or pirate, it's always better to have a clear course before you set out to sea. Launching a website is no different. Your website's navigation needs to be clear and concise, both for human traffic and for search engine crawlers. The first place you can start is your menu.

The menu—or even just a list of links to take visitors around in your site—can make a big difference to your site's indexability and standing in the search engines. So it’s only natural that, with a little help from your keywords, you can make this most clear and concise course for the search engine ranking ships to navigate your site.

As long as you know how to make title attributes for your navigation links, you are ready to take it to the next level and make sure that the keywords in your site's internal navigation give insight into the subject of the site. The anchor text of your own navigation is one of the places that Google looks to determine what your site is about.

How to change your navigation

First, think about your navigation. Where are you sending people when they click? What does it mean when you have a Home link in your navigation? If you're not selling real estate, chances are that Home is not a good choice to bring people back to the front page of your site.

Figure out what your customers call your products or services—not what your industry calls them—and then make your navigation accordingly. Once you know what you want to call each navigation item, carry out the following steps:

1. Point your browser to menu or go to your admin screen and click the Menus link. You'll see something like this:

2. Now click the link to the menu where you've placed your site's navigation items. You will see a list of all the menu items on your site.

3. Click the Edit link next to each item that you wish to change. You will see a screen similar to the following screenshot:

4. Type the search engine optimized text into the Menu link title field. For example, if you own a car dealership, you might put Fast Cars here.

5. Click on the Save button.

Other links in your site

Your site navigation is not the only place that may contain links to your site. Putting links in the body of your text to other relevant pages of your site is a great way to guide visitors through your site. Here are a few best practices for links:

Tip #1: Don't use CSS to make links look like plain text. Make them look like links. If it doesn't clash with your theme, use blue text with underlining since everyone is already familiar with that style.

Tip #2: Use helpful, keyword-rich anchor text for the links. Avoid Click Here or Here as the anchor text. It tells Google nothing about where the link is going. Instead, use words that indicate what the user will find if they click the link like this: Fast PCs.

Tip #3: Don't put more than about 100 links on a page. It's overwhelming to users and looks like spam to Google.

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