SEO Tips: 6 Ways to Get More Out of Drop-Down Menus

Published: 12th April 2013
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When optimizing an e-commerce website, most people focus on landing pages, the checkout process, and the homepage. While emphasizing all of these pages is important, it is also essential to spend some time optimizing areas which are easy to overlook. In this article I offer some SEO tips relating to drop down menus.

The drop-down menus on e-commerce site can play a significant role in helping potential customers find exactly what they are looking for. Fortunately, there are a variety of simple tweaks which can be made in order to make them easier for customers to use and better optimized for search engines.

1. Short headings are always best

One of the primary reasons why drop-down menus are necessary is because it is impractical to add all of the subcategories to the primary menu. To ensure the primary menu is still as appealing and informative as possible, make sure that you always use short, clear headings. This immediately tells users which links fall into related categories

2. Use columns to shorten the length of drop-down menus

Another common mistake is not leveraging the full width of the website when designing drop-down menus. As the variety of devices used to access e-commerce sites continues to grow, taking advantage of the available width rather than the length of the users screen makes browsing drop-down menus easier. For example, instead of having a single drop-down section which includes 20 links, it is easier for users to a drop-down section with 20 links separated into two columns of 10 links each.

3. Use Small Images or Icons

To help your drop-down menu standout, yet remain crisp and organized use small images or icons next to the links. This practice is even more effective when the icons reflect what the link is pointing to. By using unique icons, you allow potential buyers to browse visually rather than forcing them to read every link title.

4. Test the Timing

It is just as easy for drop-down menus to be annoying as it is for them to be helpful to potential customers. While it needs to appear rapidly once their mouse hovers over the primary menu, setting a short delay will ensure the menu does not pop up every time the mouse passes over it. The common recommendation is to set a delay of a half of a second. This length of time is long enough to prevent the menu from popping up every time the mouse passes over it, yet is a short enough delay that users will not feel like they are waiting for the menu to appear when they are actually trying to access it.

5. Organization is just as important as Design

One of the most important things to keep in mind when designing your drop-down menu is that organization is equally as important as the design itself. A poorly organized drop-down menu will quickly frustrate users who are looking for a specific product or product category.

6. Take Advantage of the User's Attention

An easy way to maximize the value of drop-down menus is by taking proactive steps to take advantage of the user's attention. Along with providing links to product categories or subcategories, you should also create a small section which highlights bestsellers, promotions, and bundles. The drop-down menu is one of the few elements on your website that users will actively read which provide you with the perfect opportunity to subtly promote your products.

These are just a few of the ways you can optimize drop-down menus to reduce friction, maximize user engagement, and promote your best-selling products.


For more free SEO tips check out David Hurley's Search Engine Optimization page at:

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