Is it considered a bad practice to have external links in the navbar of a website?

In my case, I am thinking of selling some of my items on a new website that I previously sold on my current website. Could I change the links to those items so that they point to the external site or would that be considered a bad practice for SEO and UI/UX purposes?

  • 1
    Create links for these products, but not in the navigation bar. Navigation is for navigating the site. – closetnoc Nov 5 '15 at 3:01

A terrible idea. Unless the URL is rel="nofollow" and has a really important reason to be in your top of page navigation.

Follow up: Part of ranking is the choice of quality/authority OUTBOUND links. If the outbound link is RELEVANT to the page context then it should be a "follow" link but in my view not placed in the top nav area.

  • Are you suggesting the nofollow because it is a site-wide link? Site-wide links can often be seen as spammy. – Stephen Ostermiller Jul 7 '16 at 10:17
  • Indeed. But I was thinking that the nav area of the top of the page should NAVIGATE only to links on the given site and if a nofollow is added to an external link it MIGHT slow down the robots from moving away from your site. – Michael Jul 11 '16 at 5:57

From an SEO point of view it won't make a difference unless the link is classed as link spamming, in other words the page you are linking to does not have anything to do with the current page (or the product you are linking to does not have anything to do with the page).

From a UX/UI perspective it is not ideal as a navigation bar should be used for navigating the various sections of your site. It makes sense to use the navigation bar to link to sister sites or to link to other sites that relate to your own site or even a product if the product relates to your site but only if there is a clear relationship and purpose for the link. If the purpose of the link is to advertise a product which the user may find useful or interesting this would be better suited to a sidebar module (such as a recommended links block).

At the end of the day where you place the links in your site is up to you. A good rule of thumb is to say "would I like to see this done on another site"


I think it all depends on where the outbound links are going.

It's well accepted that outbound links to influential related sites, e.g. links from a financial consultant's site to major stockmarket and pension rating sites, tend to make the financial consultant's site more important in the eyes of the bot.

It's also well accepted that having outbound links in the footer is not going to boost a site's ranking much compared to having them somewhere (suitable, e.g. within a Client heading) in the navbar.

But you're sending traffic from one relatively unknown site to another one. This could downgrade both sites' rankings.


I don't think it is a bad practice.

Big blogs like lifehacker.com also have added external links in the navbar(their main traffic source is organic traffic).

  • 1
    This may create havoc with site links and semantics. I would have to think about this for a bit. I would reserve these links for sidebars at least. I just feel it is bad form UX wise for the user. I might easily get peeved if I was taken to another site. – closetnoc Nov 5 '15 at 5:20

i don't think it's a good practice to put external links in main NavBar. As you said you want to sell some of items on a new website that you previously sold on current website, so its better to use 301 redirection on current website relevant URLs to new website.


Not at all. StackExchange does it. Google doesn't care if you link to sister sites, as long as you're not committing link spam.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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