Website navigation architectures and their effect on website visibility - can search engines deliver on the promise?

Weideman, M. & Ngindana, M.W.

Proceedings of the SAICSIT Conference: Fulfilling the Promise of ICT. Stellenbosch, South Africa. 5 October.

Weideman, M. & Ngindana, M.W. 2004. Website navigation architectures and their effect on website visibility - can search engines deliver on the promise? Proceedings of the SAICSIT Conference: Fulfilling the Promise of ICT. Stellenbosch, South Africa. 5 October.

ABSTRACT
Search engines hold a promise of delivering relevant and useful information to the human user. The primary objective of this research project is to compare and report on different types of navigation schemes, their advantages and disadvantages, and the impact they have on the visibility of a webpage to a search engine crawler. The method employed was to review relevant literature, compare the advantages and disadvantages of navigation architectures and to reach a conclusion. It was found that a number of options are offered to the designer of a website, including text-based links, navigation buttons, image maps, JavaScript, Flash elements, hidden menus and frames. All of these elements appeared to have a question mark over their positive contribution to the visibility of a webpage. The primary conclusion reached is that navigation architecture used on a website does impact its visibility to a search engine crawler. The webpage designer should exercise care in choosing a navigation scheme. One option is to duplicate navigation schemes to please both human and crawler visitors, which could add to clutter and information overload. Finally, some areas for further research are identified.
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