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After reading this: "Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number" [Googkle official site]

And this: "Users often dislike link-heavy pages too, so before you go overboard putting a ton of links on a page, ask yourself what the purpose of the page is and whether it works well for the user experience." [Matt Cutts official blog]

I'm wondering how to keep links on a given page to a reasonable number for a generic e-commerce site, in order to make Google happy too.

Usually these type of sites contains a left menu packed with all the products/articles in the shop catalog divided by categories/sub-categories. Each sub-category has naturally a link to it (on some sites even the main category have a link showing a page with the sub-categories listed as page contents)

Shops/companies usually have many categories/sub-categories to show, so generally these left menu are big with many, many links. And since these left menu are repeated in each page (1) how could we keep the amount of links to a reasonable number?

Any SEO considerations and suggestions are well accepted too in your answer (as always).


(1) note - I think these big menus repeated in all pages don't make the website less user friendly I'm talking about tree menus like this one for instance www . nummus . com these type menu use also Javascript to open nodes and on each page they keep themselves open, so I think they are very user friendly. Actually I think the opposite: I can't stand navigating sites that change the position or the flow/contents of menus while I'm navigating. And you?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This isn't the first issue I'd worry about for SEO for an e-commerce site. What is more relevant is making sure that each page is unique enough from other pages that it doesn't become duplicate content. The problem with most ecommerce sites is that each product page has very little unique text in comparison to other pages using the same template. Ways to mitigate that are to write full product descriptions and allow user reviews (that aren't loaded with JavaScript).

Now, on to your question. Again, this isn't something I'd really worry about too much. Those navigation links are useful to the user. With the proper anchor text, they're also incredibly useful for SEO. In fact, I'd probably guess that the benefit of having those links with that anchor text far outweighs the possibility of having too many links. For most ecommerce sites, that's the only way those pages will be linked to with that anchor text because ecommerce sites generally aren't linked to very often externally (outside of spam). From a UI perspective, if you have a lot of navigation links, I'd recommend breaking them up into smaller sections of five or six links using a divider or spacing to make them more easily scannable.

If you are really concerned about this issue, you could drill down into more detail once you select a general category. For example, the front page could show the category 'widgets' in the menu, but once you're on the widgets page, a sublist under the 'widgets' category would list: 'red widgets', 'blue widgets', 'green widgets', etc.

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Very clever and interesting answer. +1 –  Marco Demaio Nov 24 '10 at 9:49

From a UX point of view, one option would be to use 'mega menus'. They are very good at providing a lot of navigational options in a comprehensible manner. Just be careful to of what can go wrong with mega menus

Each mega menu could be loaded up using Google new 'fragments' syntax if you want to cut down on the amount of links physically present in the page itself.

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Thanks for your answer, Mega menus are interesting, but the main subject of the question is how to keep links to a reasonable number mainly for SEO purpose, and not how to show the mnau in another form. –  Marco Demaio Nov 23 '10 at 21:20
    
Unfortunately, removing actual links from the page will probably harm your SEO since your site is less crawlable. –  DisgruntledGoat Nov 24 '10 at 0:14

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