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On Page Linking Ideas

How much time have you invested into analyzing how the navigation of your website works? Do the top links make sense? Do the navigation links on the left make sense? We're assuming of course that there are top and left navigations on your website since they've become standard.

Of course, if you've decided to take the discounted method of setting up your jewelry website then you're probably using a free system like WordPress or Blogger or Tumblr, and that means your navigation is, by default, on the right side. Or worse, in the footer.

Whoever dreamed up that default template of putting primary navigation links in the footer and then also made the font size so big that the poor users have to scroll down by a mile to find the navigation!? Okay, that was definitely a digression, so let's get back on the track here...

Navigation is a very important step toward giving your customers a sense of understanding of you website. If your navigation is confusing, you're probably going to lose customers due to dissatisfaction.

Once you think up a general idea of your navigation, you should write it out somehow. We like to use a spread sheet program that allows us to move conceived pages around. After that step, you should ask someone else if it makes sense.

The problem with structuring a jewelry website is that YOU understand how you want to organize your rings and your pendants and your appraisal services, but someone else may not. Use words for your navigation links that either follow a similar convention of other jewelry sites you review, or use longer phrases that actually describe what someone will find on the page.

For example don't use the phrase "Jewelry Box" for a navigation link when you actually mean "On-Line Jewelry Catalog." The phrase "Jewelry Showcase" can also be misleading for certain areas of the United States and other parts of the world. By the way, the phrase "On-line Jewelry Catalog" always wins in a split test. Your customers automatically know it's your product catalog.

For larger websites, you need to start segmenting how your primary navigation will work. Large websites simply can't include all their links in the left navigation because the users will be overwhelmed. So you need to figure out how to subdivide them.

One really good method of subdividing is to create a primary landing page for each subsection. The landing page will have all the links on it for that set of related pages, except those links are not in the navigation, but rather within the body of the paragraphs on that page.

As an example:
The "Jewelry Education" section of your website probably contains information about the 4C's of Diamonds, a Gem Buying Guide, Birthstone Guide and maybe an Anniversary Guide. The Jewelry Education landing page would have links to each of those sub pages, but those sub pages will not be linked to from the left navigation. The Birthstone Guide page links back to the Jewelry Education, but not to anything else.

Segmenting in this way should seem intuitive to the users. As they read the page content, they immediately see the navigation instead of having to move their concentration from reading and go back to the left or bottom navigation again.

As a final note, the links within the body of a page always have more weight than those in the navigation areas. As you write content on your website, you should always consider including at least one link to another page of your site within the body of the page.
AT: 02/24/2011 01:51:48 PM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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