Come closer, I’m going to let you in on a little secret – one not many are privy to. It’s one of the most critical aspects of SEO, yet, one that has been highly overlooked, placed on the backburner and left to collect dust in cyberspace. I know what you’re thinking: it’s got something to do with keywords. Nope; try again. Hmmm, is it PPC? Wrong again. Link building? Long-form content? Not even close. Of course, all those strategies are vital to any law firm SEO campaign, but if you want your website to really make a statement and blow competitors out of the water, it all starts at the core: site navigation.
Navigation can make or break a site. It represents the foundation of a site and impacts how well all other SEO strategies you put in place will perform. Fortunately, it’s never too late to restructure a site. Below are three ways to revamp your law firm’s website’s navigation and why.
Simplicity Is Key
There are many things in life for which the saying “short and sweet” applies, and your website’s navigation structure is one of them. As an SEO best practice, it is recommended to have at maximum seven top-tier pages listed on your top navigation.
- It reduces clutter and maintains a clean look for the site
- It provides easy, structured access to main pages
- It lets site visitors – and search engine crawlers – know what the main focus of your business is
Limit the pages you list on your navigation bar to the essentials, such as your “About” page, practice area landing page, team page, and contact link. If you have a link to your homepage on your nav bar, delete it. It’s redundant and just takes up real estate. Having too many pages on your top navigation basically tells search engine crawlers that all of these topics are of equal importance. If your practice niche is personal injury, for example, structure your site architecture on accidents. You may also dabble in family law matters or bankruptcy, but if you want to attract personal injury clients, your navigation menu should be structured around personal injury and showcase only relevant practices.
Improve Page Accessibility – Incorporate a Drop-Down Menu on Your Top Navigation
One of the main goals of any website should be accessibility. Pages should be readily available and easily accessed from your homepage – especially core (tier 1) pages and practice area pages. If your pages are not accessible via your top navigation menu, your bounce rates are likely to skyrocket. After all, no one wants to spend hours combing through a site for information.
To avoid important pages getting lost in a dismal cyber abyss that could make the likes of even James Cameron squirm, be sure to incorporate a drop-down menu on your navigation bar. A drop-down menu is a functionality that enables a user to hover over a parent page link on the nav bar and view (as well as access) subsequent tier pages. In a nutshell, it serves as a roadmap to your site, outlining the relationship between parent pages and subpages.
Speaking of subpages…
Avoid Having Too Many Subpages (AKA Buried Pages)
Once upon a time, it was a common SEO practice to create tons of subpages. It was believed that by having oodles of pages on your site – regardless of page length – you could increase your search engine rankings. Thus, we spent hundreds of hours typing ourselves into carpal tunnel syndrome to create a mammoth-sized list of tier 2 and 3 pages, with topics that were essentially duplicated.
Luckily, this is now considered an antiquated practice that we can all reminisce on in jest with friends or Tweet about on “Throw Back Thursday”.
When you have tons of irrelevant subpages, the ones that are actually important can easily be buried. Buried pages can have a huge negative impact your SEO campaign. If you have more than three tiers of pages, with each tier housing hundreds of pages, your website might as well be a bounce house at a 5-year-old’s birthday party.
To prevent this from happening, abstain from creating “filler” pages, feature only subpages that provide value and support your main practice focus, and finally, consolidate pages with shorter copy to create long-form content pages (pages between 1,000-2,000 words). Not only will your site be much easier to navigate, you’ll establish yourself as an authority in your practice niche.
A well-outlined site structure can drastically improve your site rankings. Keep your navigation simple, with pages and content that add value to and support your practice focus. For help restructuring your website’s navigation or with general law firm SEO, reach out to the PaperStreet team today.
Are you interested in learning more about legal marketing? Head on over to our SEO Guidelines & Best Practices page. Our guide will teach you the do’s and don’ts for law firm SEO along with what we include in our SEO plans.