There are different ways to think about structuring your website and linking the content together to gain the biggest SEO impact. Some might think that the standard internal linking structure is best where you just link to your main service pages in the navigation. Others may think that linking specific words on a page to other related pages is the best. The way I think about an internal linking structure is slightly different.
What is an internal linking structure?
In order to answer this simply and efficiently, I will split 'internal linking structure' into two different parts...
Internal linking - Linking (via a hyperlink) from one page to another page on the same website.
Linking structure - Which pages you link together on the same website.
Below I explore and explain how I personally think about the internal linking structure and how I have personally gained the biggest SEO impact as well as helped to increase the visitor to leads conversion rate at the same time.
The main and traditional linking structure of your website
For this example, let us imagine you run a car dealership and include all your various offerings on your website.
It starts with the ‘Homepage’.
There are three pages linking from your homepage…
Vehicle Repair Shop
That is level one linking structure. Now let us explore level two linking structure.
From the ‘Car Sales’ page, you link to…
New Car Sales
Used Car Sales
From the ‘Vehicle Repair Shop’ page, you link to…
From the ‘Car Rental’ page, you link to…
Key factor when considering the internal linking structure of your website
You are providing options for your website visitor to select. As such, you are ensuring they receive a fantastic user experience. You are making it easy for them to find exactly what they are looking for.
Let us assume your website visitor clicks-through to the ‘used car sales’ page. The ONLY pages which should be linked (within the content of the page) to, from that page are the range of ‘used cars’ you have for sale. Do NOT link to any other part of your website as they want to purchase or are thinking of purchasing a ‘used car’.
If you go and link to the ‘long-term rental’ page from the ‘used car sales’ page, you are messing up that person’s user journey and adding confusion into the mix.
Linking pages through your sales funnel
What is a sales funnel?
The traditional sales funnel goes something like…
KNOW – For someone to ‘know’ you exist, this is where long-tail SEO strategy (via your blog) comes in.
LIKE – In order for someone to ‘like’ you, they must ‘know’ you exist.
TRUST – In order for someone to ‘trust’ you, they must ‘like’ what you are doing or stand for.
BUY – In order for someone to ‘buy’ from you, they must ‘trust’ you first.
This is the traditional sales funnel everyone goes on about. I am a little different though and have created my own SEO content sales funnel.
Starting from the top of the sales funnel working down to the bottom, we have…
I need to solve my problem – This is the section where people do not know what they need yet, as they just have a problem. Do you have content on your website that educates your potential new customer that you totally understand their specific problem, and outlines the solution your business can provide?
I know what I want – Now they understand what they need, this section of content needs to explain why your business is the right business to solve their problem.
I am ready to buy – Now they know what they want, and they trust your business enough to contact you or make a purchase. Make it easy for them by explaining ‘how’ they move forward and what to expect.
Making contact or sale (if Ecommerce) – Generating the lead or sale. Do not put any barriers in front of them that makes it hard for them to contact you. Provide content which explains the different ways they can contact you.
After-sales – The user journey does not stop as soon as they confirm their order or make a purchase. You want to turn every single one of your new customers into your unpaid sales force. You want them to feel happy when recommending you to someone else they know who has the same problem. Provide them with after-sales content with tips and guides.
Now you understand my SEO content sales funnel, you need to start restructuring the internal linking structure of your information pages. To do this, follow these steps…
Open a spreadsheet and create 5 columns.
At the top of each column, from left to right, type the heading of the sales funnel described above.
Go through every page on your website and copy and paste the URLs into the column that match which part of the sales funnel that page is in.
Do you have any empty columns? If so, you need to create content for that part of the sales funnel (user journey).
Once you have something included in all five columns, you need to start linking the pages together.
The content in the ‘I need to solve my problem’ column, will link to ‘I know what I want’ which will link to ‘I’m ready to buy’, which will link to ‘Making contact or sale (if Ecommerce)’, which will link to ‘After-sales’.
You get the idea.
A couple of things to note…
It is fine if one page includes more than one part of this SEO content sales funnel. In fact, you might have all the top four points within a single page if that page is structured correctly. Just link all your internal pages accordingly.
A business website is not just your online shop window to show-off your brand. It is an effective marketing tool and as such the primary purpose of your website is to convert people who are not yet a customer of yours into a new customer. When you are writing content for your website or blog, make sure you prioritise content that has the potential to turn into business. A common mistake I see when reading through a lot of websites is, a lot of the content is related to ‘after-sales’ information which will never turn potential customers into new customers. They just fill their website with this type of content because they did not think logically when deciding what content, they needed to write.
Always think logically!