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Effect of Navigational Content on SEO

February 4, 2009
Hi Jill,

I'm redesigning my website using CSS for the layout. In the HTML code the navigation information comes before the actual page content. What worries me is how I have my navigation set up. I use CSS and span tags to make neat little information boxes appear when my navigation links are hovered over. These boxes will tell the visitor more about what to expect from that particular link.

The problem is that the search engines will see quite a bit of content that has little or nothing to do with the actual content of the page before they ever see the real content. Is this going to have an adverse effect on my rankings? I try to build my sites for my visitors instead of the search engines, but can I afford to do it in this case? Your advice would REALLY be appreciated.

Thanks,

Rodney

++Jill's Response++

Hi Rodney,

I wouldn't worry about it.

The search engines (especially Google) seem to understand what's part of your navigation (because it's on every page) and what's part of your actual content. While I have no proof, I would imagine they'd mostly filter out that extra information in your span tags because it's on most pages of the site.

If you were really concerned (and I wouldn't be), you could accomplish the same thing for your users via JavaScript instead of CSS, and the search engines would be less likely to find, read, and index the information that way.

Hope this helps!

Jill
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Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, a Boston SEO Services company.

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