Search Engine Friendly Drop Down Menus

Navigation is one of the most important factors of a successful website. This is where drop down menus can hurt or help your website. As a general rule of thumb, mega drop down menus aren’t really known to be SEO friendly or helpful for visitors. Here’s a quick rundown on drop downs.

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Organizing all of your site content can be a huge challenge. Sticking it in another place on your menu doesn’t hide the problem and it certainly doesn’t help the user experience. This is where the mega drop down and submenus were born. More doesn’t always mean better and this is especially true for drop down menus, except for certain industries, such as e-commerce.

In any case, most if not all drop down menus use a major overhaul.

User Experience
Having multiple drop down menus can be confusing as people don’t know what they’re looking for. As you might have heard, give a person too many choices and they might not choose at all. There’a always the possibility that being overwhelmed or confused can cause visitors to leave your site all together.

Having long drop down navigation or secondary drop downs can be difficult to navigate if they’re not coded properly. For example, some secondary drop downs will disappear if you accidentally navigate away before clicking on the thing you’re looking for. Although this sounds funny, many people don’t have such good hand-eye coordination and long drop downs aren’t going to be a welcoming factor of your site.

Consistency
Although there are no rules for organizing drop down menus, there are certain things that people look for. For example, the left most item and header image should take users back to the home page. The contact button and other location information is typically located on the right hand side. It’s important to be consistent, especially if you have different drop down navigation in different parts of your website.

Even little things matter, like little arrows indicating that there are more items in a sub menu. If you use some design elements in one place, it’s important to remember to use them consistently throughout your website.

Load time
More items means more time to load. Although you could potentially solve this problem by using Javascript, it’s not really recommended for SEO purposes.

As if having more links wasn’t enough to slow down your website, some sites are now adding pictures to drop down menus! This isn’t helping with your website load time. Test your own website(s) by using Google’s PageSpeed Tools.

SEO
Speaking of SEO-friendly, it’s important for search engines to properly crawl all the links in your drop down menus. Having so many items could also give a bad signal to search engines. Especially if there are a lot of repetitive keywords and phrases, as this could indicate that your website is top heavy (with links) and keyword stuffing.

To Add or Not to Add?
Capturing website visitors is not an easy task and you don’t want to scare them away with monster drop down menus. Make a good impression by presenting clean drop downs. With the recent trend of simple and responsive web design, some sites are forgoing drop down menu navigation all together. What’s your take? Add drop downs or not?

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