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Navigation in Onlineshops

Waht is from the view of UX & SEO to note?

Freddy Czaja

Navigation the A & O

Navigating an online shops is one of the key criteria for success in e-commerce. If consumers do not understand the navigation, they leave the online shop without having to convert. As if that was not bad enough, it leads to a low time on site (session duration) or even to a high bounce rate - that's very bad from the point of view of search engine optimization! What is important to note and what consequences can not have optimal navigation, we show in this article.

We deal with the subject of navigation in online shops, especially from the point of view of the device types desktop and tablet. In the lower part of the article, we also talk about mobile navigation.

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Navigation must lead consumers to their destination quickly - and nothing else! It should also keep consumers happy - and maybe fun - so they stay longer in the online shop. Search engines also need the navigation in order firstly to access all pages and secondly to better understand the structure of the online shop. If a product page or category does not appear in the navigation, it does not seem relevant, does it? But if product and category pages are well linked, they can achieve a better ranking in search engines. More about that right now…


When you hear navigation, you usually only think of the top main navigation in the header - but there are even more types of navigation!

Basically, there are two types of main navigation: on the one hand, the upper header navigation and on the other, the lateral navigation. They are used individually or in combination, depending on the concept of the online shop - they form the backbone of a navigation and must work perfectly.

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Cross-links in the content, which link to relevant internal pages, are important and are very popular with users - Wikipedia makes it perfect.
The so-called breadcrumb navigation, which is usually found below the header navigation, shows categories in which one is or has been passed.
Category page filters can also be counted as navigation, as they are a very effective way to narrow the selection to find products.
Furthermore, product offers that are offered below a product page or links in the footer also belong to the navigation and are often used by consumers.

Navigation types at a glance

+ Header navigation
+ Lateral navigation
+ Cross-links
+ Further links (below the products and categories)
+ Breadcrumb (breadcrumb navigation)
+ Footer navigation
+ Filter
+ Search


The top header navigation is usually the most important. If you do everything right here, it can be more than half the rent. So what can an optimal navigation header navigation look like? First of all, it should contain the most important categories of the online shop, so that consumers can roughly orient themselves. Then it depends on whether you want to use them in combination with a lateral navigation or whether it should act as a single main navigation. If this is the case, it must show the subnavigation of all categories when driving over / clicking with the mouse. See example picture.


A side navigation can be designed differently and has several advantages. For example, it is always visible so that consumers can navigate quickly. Next side navigation is very clear, which greatly simplifies their use. Side navigation category pages and filter settings are the first choice to satisfy consumers; In combination with large header navigation, they are very user-friendly - Amazon & Zappos make it here.


Basically, it is very important from the point of view of search engine optimization that consumers stay in the online shop for as long as possible or complete their search there; This makes the online shop, category and product pages relevant to search engines - which in turn leads to better results in the search results. For this it is important to know that Google (as the most important search engine) measures how long users are on individual pages, which pages they visit, where they come from, where they go, etc. A very good navigation therefore leads to good rankings in the search engines , to satisfied consumers and ultimately to more sales.

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Ranking of product and category pages

Many links that point to a product page X within a navigation and are also used very often point to a very relevant side are more important. If page X also has a good time on site, that's very good for the page's relevance to certain keywords.

So if you want to help important product pages and category pages to get better results in search engines, then they should be linked as often as possible. Here it is also important where the links are placed, so that they are often used by users. For example, the header navigation shown on each page is the most relevant. Links in the visible area of ​​a website, which can be reached without scrolling, are also considered very good.


The navigation should lead consumers first to the desired products. On top of that, navigating can lead consumers to important pages. Such pages may be products that have a particularly high margin, are a major product, or are a supplement to the actual product. Best example are offers under a product, such as "customers who have bought" or "complementary products" - Amazon makes it here.

In addition, important products or best-selling products can appear directly in the main navigation to bring customers to their destination immediately - of course, the navigation must be designed accordingly.


Mobile navigation is a self-contained big topic and will be worked on by us in a separate article. But you should be aware of the following:
Mobile Navigation has to be implemented with particular care because of the small available space. This is usually done with a navigation that opens from the top or from the side and shows the different levels of the categories.

It should be noted that Mobile Navigation does not display a slimmed-down variant that omits subcategories, as the mobile ranking will also affect the desktop ranking in the future - this would likely cause important keywords to lose their ranking because they are no longer navigable are found.

What ist to Considered

+ Links must be a good size for easy use
+ Categories must be arranged logically
+ Filter function should be integrated
+ Use full navigation
+ Optimization for all devices and browsers

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