Create an Effective Internal Link-Building Strategy for eCommerce Websites. The Dos and Don’ts of Internal Link-Building

In  Marketing

In today’s eCommerce environment, where the competition is fierce, having a user-friendly and easily navigable website is crucial for driving organic traffic and sales. Businesses have various effective ways to achieve their goals and objectives. One of the most successful ways is through internal link-building to connect pages on your website. Internal links improve user experience and make it easier for visitors to find their favourite products. Moreover, internal link-building helps distribute link equity and improve search engine rankings. 

There are both dos and don’ts to have in mind when it comes to creating an SEO strategy that involves internal link-building, and we are here to help you build efficient internal linking for eCommerce websites. We will explore together the best practices of link building as well as the common mistakes to avoid so you can improve your search engine rankings, drive more organic traffic and boost your sales. 

What Is Internal Link-Building for eCommerce Websites?

Internal link-building for eCommerce websites means including links within your website that connect one webpage to another. These links can be placed on words, images or longer phrases. The use of this strategy helps improve website navigation, customer journey and user experience on your website. Furthermore, you can also boost your SEO (search engine optimisation) by establishing a hierarchical web architecture of pages and pointing out your most important pages.  

We must mention that internal linking is different from external linking. External linking means adding links through your website to send users to an external source (a different site). Both types of link-building are recommended, but they serve distinctive purposes.

eCommerce businesses can implement various strategies to help users enjoy a smooth shopping experience and increase the likelihood of converting into customers, such as using product category pages to link subcategories and individual product pages, linking related products on a product’s page to stimulate cross-selling and upselling, add links to top-selling and popular products to your navigation bar or homepage, or creating content pages such as an eCommerce blog and link relevant product pages. 

The Dos of Internal Link-Building for eCommerce Websites

Internal link-building is a critical aspect of eCommerce online businesses for site optimisation that involves linking pages within site to distribute link equity, improve SEO and enhance user experience. When done correctly, this strategy can improve the visibility and authority of your online website, boost user engagement and drive more organic traffic. 

First, we would like to explain what link equity means and why it is essential for your SEO content strategy. Link equity, or link juice, refers to the value or authority that a webpage goes to another through a hyperlink. When webpages are interconnected, a link can transfer a part of its E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) to the linked page. Link equity is imperative for SEO because search engines use internal links as a primary ranking factor.   

We strongly recommend you follow best practices when creating and implementing your internal link-building strategies to avoid pitfalls and ensure the success of your SEO efforts. We will now discuss the “Dos” of internal link-building for eCommerce sites. Understanding and implementing these best practices will create a robust internal link structure.  

Create a Clear Hierarchy of Pages

One best practice we strongly encourage you to implement is to organise your website into a clear hierarchy, emphasising the most important pages at the top and subpages beneath them. This means homepage -> category pages -> product pages -> other less important pages. By doing so, you will establish the importance of each page to search engines and create an easy way for users to navigate your site. 

Logically grouping your web pages helps users find the content they are interested in quickly and easily. This way, you reduce user frustration and increase customer engagement. Moreover, search engines better understand your website’s content and purpose, improving their ability to rank your pages for relevant search queries.

Use Descriptive Anchor Text

Firstly, we would like to explain what anchor text is. An anchor text refers to the text you use in a hyperlink. A descriptive anchor text means using relevant content that provides context and information about the linked page. Being as descriptive as possible to reflect the linked page’s content accurately will help users and search engines understand where the hyperlink will take them and improve page relevance.  

When pairing the clear hierarchy with descriptive anchor text, users will enjoy a smoother shopping experience. Search engine rankings will also improve because your website will be featured only for relevant search queries, as search engine crawlers can understand what your pages are all about. 

Link Related Products

Your link-building efforts must include related products your customers might be interested in. This way, you increase the cross-selling and up-selling opportunities while keeping customers engaged with your site. 

We advise you to use descriptive texts when linking related products because it will help users and search engines alike. Suppose you sell gaming equipment and want to connect a related product to a Nintendo Switch page. In that case, you might want to use phrases like “Nintendo Switch protective case” or “Nintendo Switch screen protector” instead of generic phrases like “more products” or “click here”.   

Furthermore, we recommend using related or popular products that fit the user’s choice to distribute link equity and boost search rankings for the linked product. This best practice will increase user experience, boost engagement and improve rankings for your eCommerce website.

Use Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are navigation aids that show website visitors where they are on your website and how they got there. We recommend using breadcrumbs for your primary navigation menu (category pages, product pages) to help people return to higher-level pages if they want to. 

Breadcrumbs are very useful for eCommerce websites with a hierarchical links category structure because they allow users to quickly change between primary navigation links (various category hierarchy levels) to find the products they need. These navigation aids can lower bounce tares, improve the shopping experience and increase engagement. 

Using breadcrumbs positively impacts search engine rankings as you provide additional context about the structure of your site and the relationships between your category links and subcategory links. This helps search engine crawlers understand and index your web content better. 

We recommend you keep a clear and descriptive label that reflects the content of the connected pages. When using category hierarchy, we advise you to structure your breadcrumbs like this: Women Clothing -> Tops -> Crop Tops. Remember to avoid generic labels such as Home -> Category -> Subcategory.

Review and Update Internal Links Periodically 

We strongly recommend reviewing and updating your internal links regularly to ensure they are accurate and relevant. Remove outdated or broken links and add new and applicable links, as you must keep your internal linking structure up-to-date. Broken links can lead to a poor user experience and hurt your rankings. However, if you miss one, make sure your 404 eCommerce page is designed to convert

Removing bad links and adding new internal links is vital. It will help users find recently added products or pages to your website, easily navigate between pages, and search engines can crawl and index your website’s content effectively. 

Benefits of Implementing Link-Building Strategies 

Link-building strategies are essential aspects that contribute to user experience, website navigation, and website rankings. Let’s dive a little bit more in-depth into the internal linking purposes and benefits:

  • Improved navigation through your website because users can easily access related pages, products and content. By connecting related pages together, visitors move smoothly from one page to another, reducing friction and backtracks or performing additional search queries. This action will increase user engagement, reduce bounce rate, and contribute to better search engine rankings.
  • Facilitate search because you can point users out to relevant pages and products. When you link parent categories and subcategories, you narrow down user searches and help them reach their desired products and pages more quickly and easily. 
  • Better engagement because you encourage users to spend more time on your website and explore more pieces of content. Better engagement leads to an improved likelihood of customers making a purchase. 
  • Improved relevance as search engines can better understand the relationship between your pages and the topics you cover. We strongly recommend implementing content-reach sections to establish the relevance of your website for information search queries and increase your website’s chances of appearing on the search engine results page (SERP). 
  • Establish website authority by linking the most important pages or content to distribute link equity across your website. Content-reach sections with high-quality and relevant details will place you as an authoritative and trustworthy online business with great visibility in the SERP.
  • Easier website maintenance because you can quickly update and modify your website’s structure and content. You can keep your website up-to-date and relevant, contributing to better search engine rankings in the long run.

The Don’ts of Internal Link-Building for eCommerce Websites

While having an internal link-building strategy is an essential aspect of SEO, some mistakes people make will negatively impact the site and lead to penalties. This chapter will dive deeper into the “Don’ts” of internal link-building for eCommerce websites.  

Do Not Over-Optimise Internal Links

Link-building over-optimisation means using black hat SEO techniques to build links to a website to improve rankings. Black hat SEO is an unethical way to manipulate rankings. These techniques violate search engine guidelines and can result in penalties or even a complete ban from search engine results.

There are some ways that over-optimisation can occur, and we strongly recommend keeping your website away from these strategies: 

  • Avoid using exact match anchor text or exact keyword phrases as the anchor text of a link. An exact anchor text match can seem manipulative for search engines and will bring penalties. We recommend following the anchor text optimisation principle, which refers to using relevant and descriptive text that matches the linked page’s content. 
  • Avoid building too many links fast. External links, such as inbound links (backlinks), should be created naturally over time and result from high-quality content, brand recognition and relationship with external websites in the industry. We recommend focusing on creating link-worthy content based on the E-A-T principle, forming relationships in your industry through guest posts, social media and content marketing strategies. 
  • Avoid focusing on quantity over quality. Try to avoid acquiring as many links as possible and disregard the quality of the external website or the relevance of the content that sends back to your eCommerce website. We advise you to focus on the type of content, its relevance, quality and the authority of the external website. Create high-quality content to attract natural backlinks, encourage user-generated content, and use relevant and descriptive anchor texts. Search engines value the quality over the quantity of the links and the relevance they provide to users.   
  • Avoid using link schemes. Link schemes refer to buying or selling links, being involved in link exchanges or using automated link-building tools. As we mentioned before, focus on creating high-quality and content-rich pages.
  • Do not ignore user experience. Using links across your website has the purpose of helping users navigate faster and easier on your website. An internal-linking flow should be and feel natural, not over-optimised or trying to manipulate search engine rankings. Ensure that your link-building strategy provides value to users and that the links appear naturally and organically. Use anchor text variations through your content and write your content for users, not for search engines.  

Do Not Use Manipulative Tactics

Manipulative link-building tactics are designed to artificially increase the number or quality of links to a website to manipulate search engine rankings. These tactics violate search engine guidelines and can result in penalties or even a complete ban from search engine results. These tactics include paid links, link exchanges, guest blog posts for links, hiding links, link farms and networks. All these techniques will attract penalties from search engines, poor user experience, high bounce rates, a decrease in trust, low website authority, and difficulty in regaining search engine rankings.   

Our Advice  – How to Create Effective Internal Link Structures for eCommerce Websites 

There are several effective internal link structures that your eCommerce website can implement. We have put together a list of actions to improve user experience, distribute link juice across your website and help boost your search engine rankings. 

We strongly recommend starting with a hierarchical structure to organise your product categories, subcategories and product pages in a logical and natural way from one to another. Split your products into main categories that include a large variety of products such as woman’s clothing, skincare, laptops, etc. Afterwards, split the categories into large subcategories, such as dresses, jeans, tops,  face products, hair products, Windows laptops, Linux laptops, laptop accessories, etc. You can even go more in-depth with your organisation. For example, Woman’s clothing -> Dresses -> Maxi Dresses or Baby Doll Dresses. Skincare -> Face Products -> Eye Cream or Moisturising Cream, etc. Do not shy away from grouping your products in great detail based on use, properties, type, brand, etc. When a website visitor is interested in a particular product, it is way faster and easier to get to the desired product page and convert in no time.   

Furthermore, pay great attention to the product page. We recommend putting effort into the content. We recommend writing clear and detailed product names, emphasising the product’s attributes. For example, if you sell Apple laptops, you can name it Apple MacBook Pro 14″ laptop with Apple M2 Pro processor, 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores, 16 GB, 512 GB SSD, Space Grey, INT KB. This will help your website pop up in the SERP for long-tail search queries that are very specific. Moreover, we encourage you to write descriptive product descriptions and present all important product details and specifications because they allow you to link other website pages without effort. 

Another step to further your strategy is linking related products to the product page. Based on your goals and objectives, you can also connect popular products or best-sellers. Remember that the featured products must be related or complementary to the product the user is considering buying. For example, if a user is on an elegant dress page and you sell accessories such as jewellery or shoes, you can recommend both products that complement the dress. This approach increases user engagement, reduces bounce rates and improves the position in the SERP for the linked products.    

Product comparison is another useful eCommerce feature where you can use internal links to help users make an in-depth comparison between various products from the same category. A store that sells mobile devices might include internal links to similar products or product comparisons on each product page. For example, you can include a product comparison between the same brand, such as iPhone 10, iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Max, or they can choose different brands, such as a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, iPhone 12 Pro Max and Google Pixel 7 Pro. Let the users pick the devices they want to compare because they will make an informed purchase decision, and you will improve search engine rankings for the linked products and transfer authority to products.   

Take advantage of product reviews. User review content works wonders for your business and users alike. Before making a purchase, 95% of consumers read online reviews. Users can share their experience with your products and your business by allowing reviews on your product page. You can take advantage of it by replying and adding links on user review answers promoting products that complement their purchase or advertise a new product.   

Lastly, we strongly encourage you to incorporate related content on the product pages, such as blog posts or guides. Content rich-sections give you plenty of room for playing around with internal linking, using keyword variations and improving your overall on-page SEO. For example, a retailer from the agriculture industry can send users relevant blog posts and guides on each product page, helping users learn more about products.    

In conclusion, effective internal link structures for eCommerce websites must be done correctly from the beginning. Besides providing a fantastic shopping experience, search engines will receive various signals to help your business rank better. Google uses more than 200 signals, including engagement signals and social signals, to calculate and decide on a website’s ranking. 

If you do not know where to start or need help with your internal link-building strategy for your eCommerce website, you can <a “Contact Us” href=””>contact us today! Furthermore, if you want to learn more about improving your website’s rankings and user experience, you can read our eCommerce blog section, expand your knowledge about the industry and maybe implement our tips and tricks.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three types of internal links used for link-building?

Navigation links, anchor links and contextual links.

How to structure URL for eCommerce website SEO?

We recommend using the hierarchical structure.

How many internal links should I use on a page?

No exact number of links should be used in a piece of content. We recommend including at least 2 or 3 internal links for text-rich sections.

How do I optimise internal links?

Use descriptive anchor texts, link to relevant pages, use internal links in moderation, use breadcrumbs, and use a logical site structure.