What type of content drives your brand? Is it travel and dining? Health and wellness? Arts and events? For publishers, it’s often all of the above. The print-first mindset and the desire to be everything to everyone can be seen on the home page of many publications. This page is filled with an overwhelming (and often overlapping) number of directory and subdirectory categories in order to entice readers to journey forth into the site - continuing to ignore the fact that most users enter their site from one of their hundreds of thousands of pages.
Publisher sites are huge. They’re a library of content that’s compiled over decades, but we have to stop treating them as a date-first archive and start thinking of them as a living organism. Thoughtfully breaking your primary pillars of content down into digestible (and more importantly, indexable) reader navigation is essential to your UX, which has an enormous influence on your SEO footprint. Google (and other search engines) is placing your site’s ability to attract and correctly serve their users’ needs safely above all else.
Below are a few examples of publishers providing a clean and enjoyable UX to inspire your next web team meeting:
Check out the concise but informative URL structure:
Once you land on a page you’re interested in (like the tequila cocktail I selected from the Good Food page. Don’t judge me; I wrote this on a Monday), the page’s URL changes as you scroll from piece to piece (essential to traffic tracking). No matter how far you scroll, you always know where you are in the site (see the highlighted area above the byline), and you can always navigate to another subdirectory.
Their travel guides make trip-planning a breeze: https://www.afar.com/travel-guides.
I found what they consider to be the best pizza in Cape Town, for example, and stuck around to plan the rest of my trip through South Africa.
The header is broken down into a manageable number of directories and subdirectories. I made it back to the food page after Pinning my peach sorbet with this intuitive navigation. As I click through to the next recipe, I don’t care if it’s from a physical issue that was published two years ago - as long as the page is updated and loads quickly, the publish date has very little to do with my experience.
To put it simply, and to avoid talking in developer-specific terms, if users can’t easily navigate your website, Google sees that in your site’s analytics. Your pages are loading slowly, your bounce rate is skyrocketing, your time on page and click-through rates are shrinking - all obvious signs that you’re not serving up a rich experience on a healthy site. The days of stuffing pages with keywords and clever tagging are long gone. Thoughtfully developing your site’s UX is of paramount importance to your SEO strategy.