Link acquisition has been all the rage in SEO for as long as most of us can remember.
Yes, inbound links are important for driving referrals and portraying brand and domain authority to search engines.
But your internal links serve three fundamental functions on your website.
Let’s dig into these three areas.
Read on to learn how to understand, optimize, and manage your website internal linking structure.
1. Internal Links Portray Page Importance to Search Engines
A healthy exercise for any organization is to sit down and list the role of the website.
Answer these two important questions:
- What do you want each user to do when they visit?
- What is most important about your site?
The answers will vary, but may sometimes be identical.
For example, we want every user to see what products and services we provide.
We also feel that this is our most valuable content. That for which is most important to us should also be of SEO focus as well considering that we want this content to rank well.
The more we link to our most valuable content, the more we can instruct to search engines that this is our most important content.
So, are you giving the love to your most important content?
Google Search Console provides a great and important resource in their Links section.
You definitely want to pay attention to Google’s view of what you link to the most.
This will give you a holistic view of how well you are portraying what is important to you.
In the above example, we can see that this HVAC company has twice as many links to their bill pay page than to their service pages.
Also, all services are linked to equally.
Is toilet repair as important as furnace repair or air conditioning repair?
Again, ask yourself what your most valuable content is.
In this scenario, valuable can also mean that the company likely makes higher revenue from selling air conditioners versus toilets.
So how do we craft an internal linking structure that shows this hierarchy of content?
- Ensure that your top pages are featured in the main navigation. If you have just a few products/services, resources, etc. then list these in main navigation via dropdowns or mega-menus. Note: work within reason, this doesn’t mean a 100 link main navigation!
- Craft footer navigation that includes much of these same links that you feature in the main navigation.
- Do you feature supporting navigation on internal site pages? Having a multiple column layout within internal pages is a great way to heighten internal linking as well as drafting easy pathways throughout your site for your users. This is also a great internal linking strategy if you have you have too many product/service, resource, etc. pages to feature all in your main navigation.
- Do you feature breadcrumb navigation within internal site pages? This is essential for usability regarding very deep sites, yet also lends to heightened internal linking.
- Mind the cross-sell approach to internal linking. Provide feature areas on internal pages to related services, products or other resource pages similar to the respective topic of a page.
2. Internal Links Usher Users to Conversions
Internal linking should not solely be a topic for SEO. It is the medium that delivers a landing page visitor to a successful site conversion.
For every site objective you have, you must design an intended pathway to your objective.
Let’s look at an example:
You want users to peruse your array of products, but you also want to focus on lead generation of your new webinar series.
Two objectives? No sweat.
Through analytical access, you understand that your homepage receives the highest amount of traffic, followed by your insightful blog section.
With this in mind, you’re going to internally link to your products section as well your new webinar series from the top fold of the homepage. This can be done via hero image sliders or feature area boxes.
You will then move to your blog template and ensure that you have a vertical column that features links to your webinar series.
Uniform product/service linking in a blog post template can seem a little tacky or pushy, but finding a way to internally link to applicable product/service pages from within post copy doesn’t hurt.
While the above example makes internal linking strategy seem easy, it often isn’t as you have to audit website user behavior to understand how they are traversing the site.
A helpful practice is to use the Users Flow feature in Google Analytics and understand how users move through your site.
The trick is to use advanced segments where you only look at sessions with conversions as well as sessions without conversions.
Study the differences between the two.
Specifically, review the internal linking structure on pages in both of these pathways.
This will help you to understand how unsuccessful pages can mimic internal linking to help become successful pages.
Another point of consideration is not the amount of internal linking but understanding the successful positioning of internal links.
Lucky Orange is a great tool for this. There are other heatmap tools (e.g., Crazyegg, Hotjar) but I am quite fond of the entire suite for heatmap review as well as live recording and real-time data.
Here, I advise reviewing those converting and non-converting pages we found in Google Analytics within the heatmap section of the tool to understand where attention is paid on the page and if we need to consider moving internal links around on the page.
Are important links too far down the page where scroll depth is shallow?
Should you reorder main navigation to place important pages closer to where attention is being paid?
3. Internal Links Assist in Search Engine Crawling
While traditional HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps are a great way to help search engines traverse across your site, how you internally link on your site can help search engines move quickly through your important site content – or you can seriously confuse them.
Here are a few ways to make crawling easier for search engines.
Make Sure You Aren’t Internally Linking to Redirecting Pages
This can happen in a HTTP to HTTPS transition or through URL naming convention changes.
When a search engine has to travel through a redirect, this slows their crawl.
Only Internally Link on Absolute URLs (Not Relative URLs)
Personally, this just ensures that you are visibly linking to the correct HTTP/HTTPS (or www) page version.
However, if you understand your link directive a relative link is fine with the consideration that you are using the <Base> href attribute.
Link to Canonical Page Versions
This may be one of my biggest internal linking pet peeves.
For example, when brand logo links and main navigation links will link to a duplicated “default.aspx” page or a duplicated page including or not including a trailing slash at the end of the URL.
Mistakes like these can quickly split the internal link priority that you are wishing to portray to the search engines.
Clean up your broken internal links
There are many third-party website monitoring tools that can help you to monitor broken links on your site.
However, Google Search Console features the Coverage section which will let you know how many 404 and soft 404 error pages you have on your site.
Furthermore, for each error URL, you can click through the magnifying glass at right to see which page on your site is linking to a 404 page.
Having trouble finding that broken link once you visit the noted page?
Download the Chrome extension Check My Links to help uncover those broken internal links.
Internal Link Auditing – It’s Worth the Effort
Hopefully, to this point, you can see that internal link auditing is a critical and continuously ongoing process.
This is one of those beneficial areas where your efforts will be rewarded in multiple areas – SEO, conversion rate optimization, and usability.
Featured Image: Created by author, November 2018
All screenshots taken by author, November 2018
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Marketing strategies during COVID-19 times
- If a site has never been promoted, there have been no SEO audits and there are a lot of errors in code, then link building will not help.
- If the company is set up to work in messengers, it can receive subscribers – even without the support.
- SMM is less about direct sales and more about building a link between user and brand, and content plays a primary role in this.
- The main task now is to build an approximate plan to get back to the world and maintain feedback with clients and the team.
- In this article, we discuss marketing strategies during COVID-19 on the lines of contextual advertising, SEO, email, social networks, and more.
Not everyone was as lucky in the pandemic as mask manufacturers, food delivery companies, Zoom, and others. The offline business had to decide: either to quickly move all the work online or limit the business in all directions. In this article, we will discuss marketing strategies during COVID-19.
Simply moving to the Internet is not enough: you need to understand what you are doing, and under the influence of coronavirus, marketing strategy is changing rapidly. I am going to explain what happens with contextual advertising, SEO, messengers, email, and social networks.
You’ll find out:
- How the demand structure in these channels is changing,
- How to work with them now,
- Whether marketing can be paused without affecting the company,
- Which marketing strategies are best to choose, even if there’s a shortage of money.
PPC marketing in COVID-19 times
The trend in the PPC is as follows due to the decline in demand in general, we can see a decrease in demand in search, and search advertising subsidies in particular. Previously, PPC search and product advertising was the main source of sales. People were looking for something in search, saw ads, and bought. Context has always been an auxiliary marketing tool – creating demand, brand, remarketing.
But nowadays, the trend returns a little, if you look at last month’s stats, banner ads and videos have become the main source of traffic from advertising. This is due to the fact that people are using streaming services, watching movies, TV series, courses, and there are banner ads everywhere.
If we talk about conversions, then again, in most cases there is a fell. I would even say that the conversion has not fallen, but lengthened. In the past, a person coming from an advertisement would buy a simple product at once, and a more complicated product in a few clicks.
Now, this funnel has lengthened. It became even more important to work with email, chatbots, maintain communication with other advertising channels.
If in some areas the decision-making period was three-to-four days, it could grow to two-to-three weeks. I assume that this is due to the decrease in purchasing power because many people are on vacation or without work. Those who have money are not in a hurry to spend it, because it is not clear what will happen tomorrow. Even those who have an intention to buy something started to buy less.
Advertising is greatly reduced, due to this decreases the advertising competition. The click is cheaper and you can get cheaper traffic. And if you are ready to work with these long conversion leads – you can get them cheaper than before.
SEO in COVID-19 times
In most cases, organic traffic drops. And the positions of the site may be good, but the traffic is falling heavily. Demand has decreased in SEO, but again, it depends on the subject. In some niches demand has increased – someone was selling masks and antiseptics, and he had no demand but then suddenly got it. And there is, for example, tire fitting there is no change in demand because people need to retrain the car anyway. There’s no drop in demand.
Traffic is falling in everything that concerns business services – if you take, for example, furniture for private use, the demand has not fallen much. And for offices, demand has fallen to almost zero, even those who have ordered before, stopped doing it.
If now there is no need for “burning” clients, business is on pause, it is better to invest at least minimal in SEO, in social networks, in maintenance, and stop contextual advertising.
How can your business save money while working on SEO?
There are free sites, directories, where you can go and place links for free. If there is no money, this way you can optimize a good part of the budget.
If a company does not work with content, you can follow this direction. This is a conditionally free tool – even if you don’t write it yourself, you can hire a copywriter at growyourstaff, conditionally it is not so expensive. Content can help SEO a lot, and it is much cheaper than buying links and working with technical optimization.
If a site has never been promoted, there have been no SEO audits and there are a lot of errors in code, then link building will not help. If the site had been worked with before, now you just need to reduce budgets, you can buy fewer links or look for cheaper and free sources.
Pay more attention to the content – by publishing new articles you cover more keywords, more search queries. For example, if you sell laptops, then write “how to clean a laptop”, “how to pick up a laptop for games” and so on. A person looking for information – gets into an article, read advice, can subscribe to the mailing list, social networks, become your regular customer. It is possible in this way to reduce the budget for SEO.
Messenger marketing and COVID-19 times
Being in a situation of forced closure, some businesses could not afford to keep their marketing budget at the same level. Accordingly, some suspended the work with messengers, as with any other channels generating leads. The reason was not even that the companies had no money left. But also the fact that there is nothing to sell and no one to sell due to quarantine if the business is related to offline services.
Is it worth stopping the activities in messengers at all, if the company is very tight with money? If not, then how to reduce budgets for this channel with minimal damage?
The work with messengers is divided into several categories. In terms of generating leads, traffic, and conversion, it is the same as in targeted advertising and other lead gen channels. If the business closes, it makes no sense to generate hot leads.
But the messengers themselves can be used in many different ways. For example, the funnel does not have to sell quickly. It can be long and work for involvement, heating, work not only with potential clients but also with existing ones. It makes sense to maintain such a funnel whether the business is working now or not. When the company opens its doors again, it will be able to sell to the same people – no one has forgotten about them, they have been communicating and maintaining relationships throughout this period – it is important.
If the company is set up to work in messengers
The company may continue receiving subscribers – even without support, even in suspended advertising campaigns. However, as a budget cut, it is possible to suspend work with the contractor. In such a situation, this is a normal solution. In a few months, nothing should break. Thus, it is possible to cut the budget through new developments, testing, active generation of leads.
SMM in COVID-19 times
It’s bad for those who are affected by an offline fall. If offline is closed, the whole company has stopped working, and SMM too. For example, they somehow manage the account themselves, they only have enough strength for some content activity. And advertising – nobody simply comes to them, and they cannot work, and they do not maintain advertising.
Those who are forbidden to work, and who can not accept clients in the office, reduced to almost zero advertising in social networks and other sources. And someone, on the contrary, increased, like VR clubs. They launched a new service – previously there was an offline point, which is now closed, and the equipment is idle. They’ve set up a rental service and are actively developing it.
What are the changes in campaign traffic that continue working during quarantine?
In some campaigns, traffic has increased, but this is due to the fact that the auction has been released. On Facebook, the current price of a click has dropped several times – simply because many competitors have left. The price is going down, the number of clicks is going up, and the traffic is going up accordingly.
In general, somewhere it has increased, somewhere it has decreased. Now it all depends on the area in which you work. If you can reformat online painlessly enough, you’ll have some minimal reductions, there will be growth.
Is it possible to save money on social networking?
In general, it is better not to reduce the number of posts, and make them better in quality. If the budget for advertising has decreased, then focus on the content.
SMM is less about direct sales and more about building a link between user and brand, and content plays a primary role in this. If you lose content, the connection is broken.
In paid promotion it is possible to save on what does not bring results right now – it can be reduced. In terms of conversions now everything should be actively connected to analytics. You look through the analytics – does the campaign bring you additional conversions after the transition and application. If the results are down dramatically, you should turn it off.
And the content takes a little time, especially if the company initially approached it correctly – there is a content strategy, a content plan, and so on. If it’s all there, there’s nothing stopping you from giving it all to one employee who’s sitting at home at a remote location to write according to a ready-made plan. If there is a strategy, there is nothing difficult about continuing to write, and it is not so expensive.
Email marketing during COVID-19 times
At the moment the main task of the channel is to keep in touch with the client and not to give false hopes. Therefore, the only dynamics that are important to us are the unsubscribe rate and the remaining amount of “live” users. For example, these are openings in the last 60 days.
I would advise not to stop and not to panic, the situation will somehow be solved and the brand will either resist or not. The main task now is to build an approximate plan to get back to the world and maintain feedback with clients and the team.
Stop everything – it’s like stopping a blast furnace, it’s easier to build a new one than the old one to run. So it is definitely worth reducing the volume, stopping the retention, and reviewing the basic onboard messages.
It is important that customers know that you are alive and in control of the situation on your side. Therefore, informational digests and regular alerts when you update the situation shouldn’t be stopped. We all have already learned how to wash our hands and listen to all the CEOs, so if you have something specific – then write about it necessarily.
Evelina Brown is an internet marketing, trainer, and founder of marketing courses expert who has been involved in brand development and creation since 2012.
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