Blogging is one of the cornerstones of online marketing. When done correctly, a blog helps introduce consumers to your products, addresses objections consumers may have before buying, and supports consumers with installation advice, troubleshooting information, etc. A parts and accessories ecommerce site with a good blog is also likely to be ranked #1 on Google and Bing for a lot of competitive, valuable search queries.
A lot of work and knowledge goes into a successful blog. While we’ve covered the basics of auto parts and accessories blogging in another post, this article fleshes out the importance of internal linking.
What’s An Internal Link, And Why Is It Important?
An internal link points to another page on your site. If, for example, you’re writing a blog post explaining how to install a particular product, it’s a good idea to link to the product page in the text of your post. This internal link has a few benefits:
- Navigation. Primarily, you want to link internally to help the reader. In our example, we’re reviewing a product on our blog. It’s helpful to the reader to link to the product page, and it might also be helpful to link to some similar competing products too, depending on the format of the review.
- Engagement. Linking from one blog post to another is a great way to increase the amount of time a reader spends on your site. The more time they spend, the more pages they look at, the more likely they are to remember your brand, buy products, and so on.
- Indexing and crawling. Google doesn’t always crawl and index your entire website. There are a few reasons why, but the important thing for this discussion is that an internal link helps Google (and Bing) crawl more of your site. The more they crawl, the more they index…and the more search traffic your site will get.
- Compensating for content theft. Content theft is common, especially in ecommerce. A lot of companies try and manage this by tracking mentions and then contacting thieves and fighting to have content removed. Instead of doing this, just include links to your site in your content. Most thieves don’t bother to strip out the links in stolen content, so this way they’ll link to your products and your blog posts.
Basically, internal linking is important and definitely worth the effort.
Internal Link Best Practices
Here are some best practices for linking to your own site in a blog post:
1. Link to your own site using natural text. A lot of website owners are tempted to use highly-optimized link anchors. For example, they might link to a product page using anchor text like “best price on a new AEM cold air intake” in the hope that this will boost the search engine ranking for this specific term. While there may be a benefit here in certain limited circumstances, this is generally a bad idea. It’s usually better to use words like “here” or “this post” or even just a single keyword as link anchor text. This is a more natural way to link, and Google/Bing tend to lend this type of link more weight.
2. Use full URLs in all your links, i.e. http://www.yourdomainname.com/article/ rather than just /article/. A full URL is called an absolute link, and absolute links are better in terms of compensating for content theft.
3. Don’t overdo it with the links. Some posts will have a lot of internal links because of the topic(s) they cover, and some will have just one or two internal links. The key is to place links for the user, rather than for the search engines. Whatever you do, don’t link every other word in your blog post. That’s not going to help your site, and may, in fact, hurt it.
4. Link deep whenever you can. Without stuffing your content with links, it’s a great idea to link to pages that would be considered “deep” inside your site. A page is considered deep when it’s more than 3-4 links from the homepage. On an auto parts ecommerce site, this tends to be a product page, a sub-sub category page, or an older blog post.
5. External links are OK too. Finally, internal links should never come at the expense of a good external link. If you’ve got a good page on your site that you want to link to, and you can also link to a good external page, go for both. There’s no reason not to link out to other websites, as long as the content is good.