How Navigation Peekaboo Converts SEO Traffic Better

Standard conversion advice says remove navigation from the landing page (at least for lead generation landers). Standard SEO says use links. The next best thing would be to put the navigation out of sight, in the footer, and have your calls to action above that so visitors won’t use your navigation to leave your page.

But if you put the nav in the footer, it might get less search engine trust, precisely because folks don’t use footer navigation. What’s a conversion minded SEO to do? Here are 4 options to play navigation peekaboo with search engines and humans to convert your SEO traffic better. Blackhats use some forms of this, but I think I’ve also thought of original twists too.

Cloaking Update – Since this wasn’t 100% clear, cloaking is disapproved in most cases by search engines. Use this at your own risk.

Step 1. Cloak the page to search engines and show them the navigation bright and early.

Step 2. Show humans the navigation waaaaay down the page, which they mostly won’t get to because your awesome calls-to-action are getting them to click before reaching the footer.

CSS

This avoids the risks associated with cloaking, but will likely hurt your conversion rate.

Option 1 Location Rotation: Change the navigation’s position on the fly depending on the referring source. If it’s a search engine, the links are where they should be. For everyone else, the navigation is in the footer.

Option 2 Camouflage: Have the navigation blend in with the background (e.g. white on white text) or else have the navigation “collapse” (e.g. what happens when you click minimize – the minus/dash/underscore – on a regular browser window) automatically when humans visit. I’d guess that the white-on-white can be easily detected by search engines though, so I’d be a little weary with that one.

Option 3 Peekaboo: Another possibility I just thought of is to use dhtml or complicated javascript (e.g. search engine illegible) to immediately place a background-blending graphic over where the navigation would normally appear. Kind of like playing peekaboo – you put your hand in front of someone’s eyes and then other people can only see your hands.

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Comments

  1. Isn't cloaking a big no-no with the search engines? Re: "Peekaboo", you could use any Javascript library (jquery or prototype, etc.) to just hide the nav, easily. The big question is: Do search engines (and robots, specifically) understand JavaScript?

    Comment by Kent Davidson - March 12, 2009 @ 12:34am

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