Take the 2-minute tour ×
Webmasters Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for pro webmasters. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've always had my doubts about navigation menus effect on SEO. You know, the vertical menus on the top that show in every page in the site linking to main sections and subsections.

My issue is that if not done dynamically (i.e. after page is loaded or something), from a search engine's point of view it probably looks like a whole bunch of links in the beginning of the page, and links that probably have nothing to do with the page being analyzed, so it's probably not only confusing it, but also giving link 'juice' to the wrong pages or reducing its value.

When I've asked SEO people about this, I usually get a "Google is smart, they'll recognize it as a menu and ignore it" response, but I'm not convinced (and the 'Google is smart' argument sounds almost like religion discussion to me).

So does it affect SEO negatively or not? Are there any official posts on this topic?

share|improve this question
    
Developers here and elsewhere (including myself) say they have done this with no negative effects. However, if you're extra concerned, put the links in divs at the end and use js to attach them onmouseover where appropriate.. then at least more of your relevant links will be ahead of them in the source code. –  joshuahedlund Jun 5 '12 at 19:37
    
I've been tempted, but guess there's no need. I'm still not convinced but guess if the consensus is that it's not a problem, then I'll go with the flow. –  Rodolfo Jun 5 '12 at 21:05
    
Quit designing websites for robots and pay attention to designing them for humans. Any search engine that doesn't understand this rates pretty low on the radar. Google/Bing both understand natural language and click flow paths and the need for them. –  Fiasco Labs May 13 '13 at 14:47

5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Here's a very through discussion on the topic from back in 08, of course by now Google is a completely different animal.

Firstly a very large percentage of the web would have a problem if they were being negatively affected by having drop down menu's, content rollups (look at the right of this page) and fat footers.

Secondly Google has to use navigation aids to index a website, how would the bot get around otherwise? You can't rely 100% on a sitemap being present.

Thirdly, it isn't about the bot's it's about the users.

Drop down menus and the like being bad for SEO/visually disabled people etc is a myth that's been around since the 90's. If the menu is built right and the links exist in the page source and are not #'d then a bot can spider it.

It's generally accepted practice to stay under 100 links on a page, unless the page requires it, but beyond that you needn't worry too much.

//Update

And here's a post from Google's own Matt Cutts confirming the above is true

And here's a diagram showing the number of links on the homepage of the top 98 or so websites from 2009.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
    
thanks. But my concern is that, in every page in the site, the search engine will find a whole bunch of links with anchor text that don't have anything to do with the current page. You're in the page for 'shoes' and the first links in the site point to 'shirts', 'pants', 'skirts', 'coats', 'shoes'. Sort of suggesting that the page the engine just read has anything to do with those words, which is false. –  Rodolfo Jun 5 '12 at 15:42
1  
@Rodolfo this is true, but it's also natural. Any website which sells clothing would likely also contain links to the other items you mention - the overall number of links may be an issue but their theme isn't. If your website was mostly relevant to shoes, for example, but also contained pages about friutflys then there may be cause for concern - but not in the case you identify. –  toomanyairmiles Jun 5 '12 at 15:53
    
I guess. Still not convinced but guess without an official post on this matter, I'll just follow the consensus –  Rodolfo Jun 5 '12 at 21:07
    
Yes I had already read that post, but it's not really what I'm concerned about. That's about # of links in a page, but my concern is more of the effect of the menu links that are unrelated to the page and present in all the pages in the site. Even if it's only 50 links, it's still 50 links that don't depend on the page in question. –  Rodolfo Jun 5 '12 at 21:26
    
@Rodolfo well, there isn't much more I can say then. –  toomanyairmiles Jun 5 '12 at 21:31

Certain items are bound to same in every page. For example in website of Microsoft company every page has the company name as Microsoft.

In name of not having duplicate content is that wise in one page company name is Microsoft and in other page that is Ficrosoft, and in other page that is Hicrosoft.

share|improve this answer

Note: this should be a comment, but I cannot comment yet

The only "negative" effects I can think of are:

  • You will be spreading PR(or link juice) over many pages instead of a few selected ones, especially if you have the same menu over the whole site, you could have some problems in directing the juice where you'd like
  • The site-links that might show up in the SERP could contain unrelated pages. This is easily fixable though, as you can tell Google if you don't want a page showing up there

For the rest I agree with toomanyairmiles.

share|improve this answer

Do the links dominate the total profile of your page? Overall Google would determine the page is about 'shoes' based on

  • Your title and meta tags
  • Your header tags
  • Your content
  • Links to the page within the site
  • Links to the page from external sites

So if even with all of the above, the navigation links dominate, then the issue is more about information architecture than just the page or the navigation.

The navigation should help your visitors navigate. So, if your analytics shows that once visitors are in 'shoes', they really don't want to go to 'shirts', then 'shirts' need not be there at all.

share|improve this answer

As long as those links are internal to your website, Google should not weight them negatively. I've managed dozens of sites with this kind of setup and no problems.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.