SEO is all about finding opportunities, and making the most of them to improve your store’s ranking. In on-site SEO, there are plenty of those opportunities from the content on your product pages, to the blogs you write, and even your site’s architecture. A really easy win for your store’s on-site SEO is perhaps not what would first come to mind - internal linking.
What is Internal Linking, and why is it important?
Internal links are hyperlinks which point to another page on the same domain. For example, your homepage linking to your catalog, or a link on your blog to a product page. As the name would suggest, an external link is the opposite - a hyperlink which points to a page on a different domain. An influencer’s blog including a link to your store would be an example of this.
There are a few reasons why these internal links are important to your store’s user experience and SEO. When it comes to user experience, internal linking makes it easier to navigate your store and can show users related content that they may be interested in. For example related products, or links to shipping information. Search engines use links to crawl and index your store, therefore internal linking makes it easier to crawl your store by showing contextual relelance of pages and how they’re connected. A basic example would be your homepage linked to a catalog page, linked to a product - those links show Google how those pages are connected and navigated. Another SEO win is that internal linking can help to pass on authority (PageRank); the closer linked a page is to your most authoritative pages, the more likely it’ll be to pass on that authority to those linked pages. This is especially important if there are key pages that you want to rank better.
Internal Linking Best Practices
1 - Rich and unique anchor text
Use descriptive, unique, and keyword-rich anchor text for internal links. This achieves a few things; the first is that descriptive anchor text helps to show users what to expect through that link and shows context and topical relevance to search engines.
The text “moisture meter” links through to a product page for The Sill’s plant moisture meter.
Second, unique anchor text helps to show Google when linked pages are about different topics. For example, if you have two links on the same page with the same anchor text it could be read by search engines as spam and they might not all be crawled properly. And finally, you can include some keywords in your anchor text to help with the linked page’s SEO. Don’t overstuff it - be selective and concise.
Homesick’s link in this blog about Cedarwood links through to their homepage with the sort of the long-tail keyword they want to rank for, “soy wax blend candles”.
Google has a lot of resources about what makes for good anchor text, you can check out their additional guidelines here.
2 - Focus on engagement and relevance
As with adding anything to your site to help with SEO, remember that your links should be focussed on engaging and helping users. Think about how people actually navigate and use your site and links, and add those which are going to be valuable to the user.
Be reasonable about how many links you add, and try to focus on that topical relevance mentioned earlier - if the linked page is actually relevant and useful, then this will fare better when Google’s bots go to crawl your site and follow those links.
3 - Link to your most important pages from homepage and be smart with navigational structure
Your homepage will typically be one of your strongest performing landing pages and carry the most authority. Therefore you want to link strategically from your homepage to help give a much needed boost to other pages you want to rank better. For example if there’s a product collection you want to focus some attention on, or if you want to give your blog a boost.
Additionally, you should link to your key product categories/collections from your main navigation menu as this is still part of your internal linking strategy. Having this easy, robust site architecture is great both for users and search engines. Bear in mind not to overstuff this main menu, and make use of your store’s sitemap to link any additional pages you think will be useful both to users and to search engines.
Top Tips for Merchants
1 - Make use of breadcrumbs and subcategories
If you’re not familiar with the term “breadcrumbs”, these are links which show the user journey to that page.
These links show the relationship between pages, and give further context to how they relate to one another. This gives further navigational assistance by allowing the user see how they got to that page, and also give additional contextual links for search engine crawlers.
If you want to take your product internal linking a step further, you should include subcategory links on primary category pages.
Again, this makes it easier for users to navigate and adds further contextual relevance to your subcategory links for search engine crawlers.
2 - “People Also Bought”
Whether you call it “people also bought”, “get the look”, “pairs with…” or any other number of phrases, recommended product sections on product pages are great for both user experience and SEO. Especially if the product the customer is looking at has additional complementary products for example if they’re looking at a camera then they may also want a camera bag and spare charging cable. For customers, you’re giving them helpful added information about the products they’re looking to purchase, or helping them to discover different products that fit their interests.
For search engine crawlers, these sections help to show relevance between products and pages. If it’s a bestseller or a product with high page authority, then linking other products can also help to pass on that authority.
3 - Link blog posts to product pages
Having a blog is great for your store’s SEO, but it’ll be even more valuable if you ensure that you link to product pages from blog articles. For users, they’ll be able to immediately go to look at the product you’re referencing, saving them from searching through your store for it themselves.
The Flourist links to products mentioned in their recipes on their blog, helping readers quickly find the product page to purchase.
On the SEO side of things, these internal links on blog articles help search engine crawlers topically relate the articles to products and vice versa. Given crawlers find pages through following links, the more interconnected your blogs are to your products the better.
Given how easy it is to implement and keep a part of your ongoing SEO strategy, internal linking is a no-brainer when it comes to finding easy wins for your store’s SEO. By keeping all these best practices in mind when creating new content for your store, you’ll be able to maximize the benefit of all these small opportunities for your SEO and user experience.