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Optimizing Your Global Link Navigation Template

Ray "Catfish" Comstock
Expert Author
Published: 2008-10-14

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One of the most basic steps in SEO that can really help your rankings is optimizing your global navigation template.

Even though many will contend that boiler plate navigation links are weighted less than other links comparatively speaking to say a link found in a keyword focused paragraph of content, the cumulative effect of these links, especially across larger sites can be very powerful in terms of improving the signals your site sends to Google about what keywords you are relevant for. There are two main steps in optimizing your global link navigation template.

If you think about every link being a vote in terms of how Google sees them, its easy to see how all the links in your global navigation serve as votes from every page of your site to your most important pages. Therefore, its essential to have your most important pages in your global navigation. If you think about from a robots perspective, the more links on your site that point to a given page, the more important it must be. So if you exclude your most important pages from your global navigation, you are not sending Google (and other search engines like Yahoo and MSN/Live although Google is a little more link reliant) the right signals to maximize your opportunity for your most important pages to rank for their respective keywords.

Include all important pages in your Global Navigation

So the first step in optimizing your global navigation link template, is to ensure that you have creatively included all of your most important pages into a navigation scheme that is still user friendly. This is sometimes as much art as it is science. Additionally, if using <select> drop down menus, make sure to code them in CSS and not JavaScript or Flash so that they can be consistently indexed correctly by all search engines.

Keyword Focused Link Text

The second step in optimizing your global navigation template is to make sure that your link text is as keyword focused as possible given the design constraints of your site. Often it would be advantageous to have a text link pointing to all pages that had four or five words or even more. However, most of the time this is not practical for many designs because of space constraints or it just doesn't look good. In these situations, I usually recommend experimenting with replacing short text phrases with identical images and then using keyword focused alt tags of 4 to 7 words (as per the Matt Cutts Alt Tag video) which then also gives users who are using screen readers a little more information about the links as well.

The key in this step of the optimization is to try to maximize the signals that your links send to Google in terms what keyword phrases that your content is relevant for, while at the same time, ensuring that the global navigation template is a user friendly, non-spammy looking navigation tool. And this is another example of how SEO becomes part art, part science, because the creativity with which you approach these tactics is part of what defines your skill level as an SEO professional.

I hope this article will inspire you to take a fresh look at your global link optimization as it relates to your primary keywords. I am confident that you will get a lot out of it and it doesn't take a whole lot of time. Have a great week.


View All Articles by Ray "Catfish" Comstock

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About the Author:
Ray "Catfish" Comstock has spent over 9 years in the search engine optimization field and has successfully ranked numerous companies in the top-10 of all major search engines for ultra competitive markets such as travel, real estate, computer software, retail, broadband internet and various manufacturing sectors.

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