Optimize your menu links for SEO

1. Select the main categories and services of your site, and write them down using sticky notes, index cards, or a spreadsheet.

For example, a clothing site might break things down into shirts, pants, sweaters, skirts, and dresses. These are the main types of clothing customers buy, and form the top-level navigation. Writing the categories down will let you rearrange your categories until you find the optimal order.

2. Use Google Analytics to determine your most visited pages and make them easy to reach from the menu.

Go into Google Analytics and select Behavior > Site Content > All pages. Select a date range like 30 days or 180 days.

3. Use the option Behavior Flow in Google Analytics, to see the natural flow of traffic on your site, so you can make decisions about your site’s content hierarchy.

The Behavior Flow option shows how visitors go through your site’s funnel.

4. Use the data from the previous steps to create your top-level menu, and use your main keywords where it makes sense in the top-level navigation menu.

Too many options will make a top-level menu look cluttered and disorganized. Aim for the essential categories only, and use subcategories for more signposting.

5. Add the main subcategories to keep the top-level menu simple and uncluttered.

To use the clothing store example, when you select shirts on the navigation menu, it may be broken down by gender or shirt type, for example, t-shirts, long-sleeved, blouses, and tank tops.

6. Design a header and navigation bar with your main links, and make sure the navigation bar is on every page of your site.

Include your logo, typically in the top left corner of the header, and link it back to the homepage.

7. Test your navigation menu across devices and check it on mobile sites.

You may need to design a mobile-friendly menu that loads differently on mobile devices.