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For a long time I wondered if navigation links would negatively impact SEO, and as a precaution in designs that allowed for this solution, I've put the entire navigation at the bottom of the source code and fixed its position at the top of the viewport.

I've always thought that in source code, the earlier your actual content is encountered, the better that is for your SEO. Big navigation menus push your actual content down in the source code. So naturally, my solution was to put them at the very end of the page and use CSS to visually place them where I need them.

I'd like to know if this is really beneficial or if I've just been believing a myth.

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Right now, definitely myth. We know that Google reads CSS and JavaScript to "see" a page as a user does.

Previously, almost certainly myth. As far as I know, having navigation above content has always been conventional in web design.

To design a search engine that doesn't take account of this and even treats it as a negative would seem odd.

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    "Previously, almost certainly myth." - This was no myth. I certainly remember that this at least "used to be" the recommended order to arrange the HTML source code, certainly for a navigation block above a certain size. However, this wasn't just an SEO thing, but one of accessibility - allowing users (perhaps with a non-visual UA) direct access to the content (which could also be handled with a "skip to content" type link at the top). – MrWhite May 26 '16 at 11:04
  • @w3dk The question pertains specifically to SEO and in that realm, as far as I know, there's never been any evidence that moving navigation code to the bottom of the page has or had any advantages. Can you point me to any research or authoritative sources on SEO benefit? – GDav May 26 '16 at 11:22
  • @GDav I've certainly worked on sites in the past where clients had been advised to move their repetitive navigation code to the bottom of the page and then visually hoist it to the top to improve their SEO as the engines were then seeing more "unique" content at the top of the content - however that was some 5+ years ago. Times and algorithms change. – Zhaph - Ben Duguid May 27 '16 at 16:24

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