July 14th, 2017

The Importance of Internal Linking in E-Commerce

Author: Laura Lynch
Laura Lynch
Director of Marketing

When you think of internal linking in e-commerce, most SEMs and marketers are looking at it from a search engine role. While it’s true that good internal linking will help in improving SEO, there’s a fantastic secondary benefit to a proper execution of the practice, user experience. As we’ve discussed before, these two must work together for the benefit of the user, the searcher, and ultimately your business. 

We’ll take a look at how both aspects are affected and what additional elements we’ll be looking to do in the future on this example site.

Internal Linking for SEO (For categories in this case)

Now, in part, you’ll have to bear with some of the discrepancies between the goal and the outcome of this website. As of the date of this blog it’s less than 24 hours old.

As you can see in the below image our top level navigation has a row of top categories. Navigation is, of course, internal linking. It’s purpose is to bring the most important categories based on demographics and where we want the visitor to go. The women’s category is a top priority for us as demographically more women buy medical uniforms than men.

This has an SEO goal of ranking women’s scrubs higher in the searches, and also to assist in site links in Google search. (in the below image the old website didn’t have the same navigation so the site links are different. Yes we’ve done the proper redirection to rectify this in the future) We want searchers looking for their stores to access the information as fast as possible, and so does Google. SEO and User Experience aren’t always dissimilar in their goals.

Going back to the first image, the dropdown menu is focused on the top categories that people search for as well as the top brands. Brands in this case are a category of their own. They are also searched more often than just products. (see below)

Internal Linking for User Experience ( For products as an example)

Let’s walk down the buyer’s journey for a moment to take a look at the user experience element of internal linking. If I’m a searcher, I may have searched for “women’s scrub tops.” Thanks to the SEO done on this website, the category of women’s scrub tops came up and I landed on their category page. I chose a top that had the color and size I wanted, and now I was looking for the pants to match.

Related products, while a great cross-sell opportunity, from a web-flow standpoint is nothing more than an internal link. But this internal link is less about SEO needs and more about user experience needs. The brands are the same, so the stitching, color, and fabric will match. As a buyer you’re happy that you could do this in one single click and more likely to shop there again.

Limiting the number of clicks that a user has to do in order to get where they want is important in making their experience better and hopefully getting a return customer. It seems like a simple thing that we’re all used to, but unfortunately so many websites still haven’t mastered this concept.

How Could We Improve This?

From a technical standpoint there’s always ways to improve your work. Descriptive anchor text for your written linking is a simple means to help the user and the search engines know what you are linking to. But these are small easy changes that can help, what about bigger items to help you drive traffic to your e-commerce products.

This is where content marketing comes in. Writing blogs that attract new visitors for reasons outside buying, or before they start buying. For example, the search “top nursing schools in Michigan” a blog could be written that lays out that information. Products such as student starter kits would be good product to have related to this blog.

No, this person isn’t gong to jump right in and spend $40 on the kit, but showing the visitor that you’ve got what they need as a new student at lower costs than the bookstore certainly can’t hurt.

Using content marketing to associate your brand with solutions to a problem is always a good way to be top-of mind when it comes time to purchase. Plus, it’s just good internal linking.

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