The Complete Idiot's Guide

Growing Your Business With Google
By Dave Taylor

Search Engine Friendly, or Easy Navigation?

Dave, I'm enjoying your new book Growing Your Business with Google. However, I have a question relating to your advice to post navigation links on the right rather than the left side: I understand that doing so could improve results placement, but this improvement might be less important than ease of use of the site.

Other authorities point out that left-side navigation links are more-or-less standard, and that users are more likely to stay with a site if site elements appear where expected. Could you comment?

This is a fascinating question because it highlights that design decisions can adversely affect your findability in the search engines. What to do? Be more attractive and perhaps more user-friendly, or more findable?

This is closely related to something else I've been evangelizing in the Web community too: your home page is dead.

Analyze the traffic to your Web site to ascertain which pages get the most visits and you'll see what I mean.

On my Ask Dave Taylor site, sorting simply by the most frequently requested non-graphic files, I see the following:

RequestsRequested file
13160/index.rdf
9093/favicon.ico
8761/index.xml
2731/how_to_create_new_screen_names_on_aol_america_online.html
2398/
2299/pc_to_sony_psp_how_do_i_download_music.html
1886/how_do_i_cancel_my_america_online_aol_account.html
1285/sony_psp_system_version_20_web_browser.html
994/transfer_mail_and_address_book_to_new_laptop.html
822/windows_shutdown_restart_and_boot_take_forever.html
708/sony_psp_to_windows_download_photos_and_music.html
683/how_do_i_reset_my_mac_os_x_admin_root_password.html

Can you see the trend here? The RSS feeds for this site are requested far more frequently than the home page, not too surprising given the polling mechanism that RSS uses, but the answer to the question How to create new screen names on AOL (America Online) has also been requested more frequently than the home page of the site (the "/" entry is the home page in this list).

The point I'm trying to make here is that while I believe that the design and layout of a site is important, I believe that making it maximally findable is even more important to your achieving your goal of increasing the visibility of your online business.

Now, the good news: with some sophisticated use of Cascading Style Sheets you can have your digital cake and eat it too, because you can theoretically have the code for your navigation appear later in the actual HTML source file, but position it to the left of the main content on the actual layout.

The catch? It works for modern browsers that fully understand CSS, but will look quite different for older browsers, less capable browsers and mini-browsers like PDAs, cellphones and even the new Sony PSP browser.

If you can live with this limitation (which should be determined by the needs and tech savvy of your readership, I think) then that might be a perfect solution.

Otherwise, I do believe that it's quite possible to develop a user friendly, visually interesting Web site that has the navigation to the right of the main content, not the left. After all, as you go from site to site, it's not like they're all simplistic clones of the same design anyway. Further, so many commercial sites are so dreadfully clogged with adverts and hundreds of navigational choices that I believe users are having to learn how to intelligently wade through design anyway.

Are we really talking about function dictating form when I say that your design should start out being search engine friendly and then work within those basic constraints? Probably. But I don't think it's that onerous a burden at the end of the day, and any smart Web site designer should be able to create something attractive and quite functional for your Web site.

Make sense?



Category: Growing Your Business   (Article #4373)
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Growing Your Business
Welcome, Entrepreneur!
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Announcing the Growing Your Business with Google workshop!
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How quickly should companies respond to customer email?
LinkedIn + BusinessWeek poll = connection spam?
Tips for getting more traffic to your blog
Search Engine Friendly, or Easy Navigation?
The Table of Contents

Inside The Book
Foreword, by Guy Kawasaki
Introduction to the Book
Increasing Your Business Visibility (chapter 1)
The Benefits of Increasing Your Visibility (Chapter 2)
What Is Google Anyway? (Chapter 3)
Learning about Google Search (Chapter 4)
Disassembling the Google Search Engine (Chapter 5)
What's Your Core Business? (Chapter 6)
Living in an Online World (Chapter 7)
Your Business Website (Chapter 8)
Assessing Your Competitors (Chapter 9)
Keeping Track of Customers (Chapter 10)
The Basics of Building A Good Business Site (Chapter 11)
Developing Online and Offline Content (Chapter 12)
Stretching Your Marketing Dollars (Chapter 13)
Secrets of the Online Marketing Masters (Chapter 14)
Content, Content, Content! (Chapter 15)
Becoming a More Popular Site (Chapter 16)
Becoming an Online Expert (Chapter 17)
Advertising Your Business with Google AdWords (Chapter 18)
Making Money with Google AdSense (Chapter 19)
The Advantages of Affiliate Programs (Chapter 20)
Avoiding Dumb Online Promotional Mistakes (Chapter 21)
Growing and Expanding Your Content (Chapter 22)
The Future of Findability (Chapter 23)

Reviews and Testimonials
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Initial "Growing Your Business with Google" Press Release

Search Engine News
Google Friends Newsletter, Sept 2008
Bill Gates: The Age of Software-Powered Communications
Google Friends Newsletter - April 2007
Beta announcement of Google AdSense Referrals
Enabling Secure Anywhere Access in a Connected World
Google Friends Newsletter
Google Launches Hosted Communications Services
AdWords now has fraud analysis accessible to advertisers
Google doesn't support click fraud. But isn't that obvious?
Welcome to Google's online payment system, Google Checkout
Google now offers Ad Scheduling for AdWords
AdSense click fraud done by robots?
AdSense: Google's Hidden Payroll
Fun new Google service: Movie info
Google agrees to pay $90 mln in click fraud suit
Latest news from Google: Google Friends Newsletter
Nofollow: Another salvo in the Spam Wars
Google Toolbar Gets Personal
Yahoo Search redesign scheduled?
Note from the Google AdSense Team
What's the future of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising?
New Google AdWords Keyword System Released

Updates for Readers
Blogging for Search Engine Results
Why does advertising site Chitika audit commission payments?
Google Adsense Update: Section Targeting
Understanding "link:" results (book errata)

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