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How to leverage internal linking on eCommerce websites

admin from Novosadmin in SEO

16th July, 2020

About Internal Linking

Internal linking is where you link from one page on your website, to another page on your website, such as linking to the homepage from a category page and vice versa. This is how Google crawls a website and finds all products and pages (apart from XML sitemap).

Changing how you manage internal links can be really useful for users and can contribute to an increase in conversion rate!

We’ve put together a list of some of the key ways you can leverage internal links across your eCommerce website to improve your SEO and user-friendliness.

Optimising Internal Linking

1) Link to your most important category and product pages in the sitewide menu

Linking to your key product or category pages from the site-wide menu helps increase the internal authority of these pages. It also gives Google a clearer idea of the sites and hierarchy. Technically speaking, if a page is linked to from the sitewide menu, it means that it is linked to from every page on the site, a clear signal to Google that this page is important.

While this is great for SEO, do take caution as to not overstuff your menu. It’s best practice to keep 5-7 dropdowns in your menu – studies indicate this is the default amount the human short-term memory can hold. 

Your menu should ideally only include your top category and product pages, and the rest can be accessed through a ‘view more’ section or linked to from pages already in the menu.

2) Implement breadcrumbs onto your category and product pages

Breadcrumbs are the links at the top of a product or category page which map the user journey to a page (see example below). 

example of breadcrumb

Long breadcrumbs are not only useful for user navigation, but they give Google a clear indication of the relationship between a set of category, subcategory and product pages. 

These links are a great quick win for eCommerce SEO and also very easy for Google to crawl quickly.

Breadcrumbs should ideally be in the following long format rather than Home > product page as they give Google more context:

    • Home > Category > Product
    • Home > Category > Subcategory > Product

 

To find out how these can be implemented easily across various e-commerce CMS platforms including Magento and Shopify, we’d recommend reading through the following blog posts:

Once breadcrumbs have been implemented, they can be marked up with breadcrumb schema which will appear on the search results. This will give Google further information on the site structure and hierarchy (see SERP example below).

breadcrumb schema

Details on how to implement breadcrumb schema can be found here.

3) Add subcategory links to category pages

Subcategory links give Google more context on the contents of a page, while also allowing web crawlers and users to navigate through the site easily.

These can be implemented as text links at the top of a category page, as shown on the Oliver Bonas site blow: 

subcategory

Or,  as image links like the made.com example below:

subcategory image link

 

4) Consider attribute links on product pages

If breadcrumb linking is not currently possible, then attribute linking is a great alternative. Attribute linking is commonly referred to as ‘deep links’ and can work well alongside breadcrumbs if they already exist on the site.

These links can be incorporated anywhere on a product page and reference any attribute a product may have

One of the main differences between breadcrumb and attribute links is that they do not need to follow a user journey, they can simply include a reference to any category page a product may belong to, e.g. sale and bestseller pages. 

You can see an example of how The Bottle Club use these below (sidebar) 

attribute links on product pages

 

You can also see an example below where SKY NEWS uses these as ‘tags’ on blogs to link to relevant hub pages on the site.

‘tags’ on blogs to link to relevant hub pages

 

5) Make sure your links are crawlable

Make sure to check your links are crawlable internal links! Ensure they are included as <a href> links rather than  JavaScript or AJAX, as this will mean Google won’t be able to crawl and follow them, making them redundant.

6) Incorporate a ‘customers also bought/customers also liked’ section

You can easily boost the user experience with internal links like ‘you may also like’ and ‘customers also bought’ modules on a product page. These are very popular on e-commerce sites like ASOS and Patch Plants (see examples below).

From ASOS 

example of customers also bought section from ASOS

From Patch

example of customers also bought section from Patch

7) Link from your blog posts to product pages and vice versa

If you have relevant guides or blog posts on the site, these are a great way to link to individual product pages and category pages which perhaps aren’t included in the statewide menu. Even if they are, it’s always best practice to exercise this where possible.

An additional tactic is to see which of your blogs have lots of links to them and add links to pages you want to push (hopefully relevant too). These internal links carry more authority because of the external links to the pages so can be a good tactic.

8) Relevant anchor text

A quick tip for internal linking is to ensure anchor text is relevant. This will give Google more context about the linked-to pages. So instead of “view more” generics, use proper anchor text like “shop accent chairs.”

Internal Linking FAQs

What do I do if a product is out of stock?

This is a common debate in the SEO industry.

If a product will be returning back in stock, we think it’s best to keep the page live and insert a note to users when the product is expected to return. You can also use this as an opportunity to link to similar products and sign customers up to a waiting/mailing list in the meantime.

This keeps the SEO value of the page (internal and external links, etc.) whilst maintaining user experience and reducing bounce rate.

If a product is being discontinued and will not be back in stock, then it should be redirected to the closest related product. If there isn’t a similar product on the site, then redirecting to the closest relevant category page is also acceptable.

You can find out more on best practice for out of stock products here.

What do I do with sales and events pages like Black Friday?

A common mistake is to redirect these pages to a relevant live page on the site. We would not recommend doing this unless absolutely necessary! As the page would then lose all the value that it has gained throughout the sales/event period. 

Instead, it’s best to leave the page as a 404 and remove any key internal links. This means the page can retain the majority of its page rank value and be linked to again when the season returns.

How can you audit internal links?

You can see the number of internal links a page has using crawlers like Screaming Frog. This can be identified through the InLinks column at the top of the screen or by clicking on a URL and clicking on the InLinks tab in the bottom window.

inlinks column

You can also use the crawl depth column (pictured above) to see how many clicks away from the homepage a page is. If it’s 1 then this means it’s linked to from either the homepage or the sitewide menu.

The link score refers to the ‘relative authority’ a page has from internal linking.

How can I see if any internal links are broken or not working?

Ahrefs broken backlinks has a feature where you can identify any external links your site has to a broken page on your website. 

This can be found on the left-hand side of the toolbar under ‘Backlink profile.’ 

backlink profile

 

Still got questions about internal linking? Tweet them to us on @thisisnovos

admin from Novos
Article by admin

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