You need to be sure your site makes sense to visitors, or they will quickly become confused and bounce away. Managing your linking patterns is the best way to do this, and it may even be helpful for you to draw a diagram on paper so you can see how your pages are tiered.
If my pet clothing site carries hundreds of different items for cats and dogs of various sizes and breeds, I need to find a way to categorize so my site makes sense to the average Joe.
The rule of thumb is to assume that every visitor to your site is a complete internet newbie, and plan accordingly. First, have a clearly marked link to ‘home’ on each page, and consider making your sitemap user friendly as well. This will allow customers to reorient themselves if they get confused.
Work methodically down from your landing pages, for example:
Pet Clothing Main Landing Page
Cats Dogs Accessories
Large Medium Small Toy
– each size links to own subset;
Coats Hoodies etc.
Bonnets Booties etc.
Leashes Collars etc.
This way you can easily build a network of links that will expand gradually as your customer gets nearer and nearer their desired destination. You don’t want them to have to click a million times, but as long as each click follows a sensible progression, your customer will feel rewarded as they take each step closer to their goal.
The main focus is making your website easy to traverse for anyone who visits, regardless of what they are looking for. If you can provide instant gratification with each click they are required to make, they won’t mind it taking a few steps to get there.
Ever been on your way to a party in an unfamiliar town, and been thrilled to see each little arrow sign with balloons letting you know you are making the right turns to lead you to your destination? That’s the way your inner site links should be set up.
Every time you visitor clicks on a link, It should pop up choices that more nearly fit their needs until they arrive at the Holy Grail of their journey – whether that be the perfect cat bonnet or the coolest doggie duds made for a toy breed.
Once you have led them to the water, you want to make them drink, so making the buy now option very simple is your next step. Be sure the ‘shopping cart’ or similar method you employ is simple, fast and secure, and let your customers know as they complete each step that they are being properly taken care of and any information they supply will be safe.
Once you have made the sale, back up you customer satisfaction guarantee with prompt shipping and appropriate measures for the consumer’s happiness. Make sure you provide a valid, easy way for them to contact you if they encounter a problem, and don’t forget to thank them for their patronage.