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5 Ways Interlinking Can Benefit B2B Websites
Friday, October 23, 2009
I often wonder what the Web would be like if there was less emphasis on links and linking inventories?  How would the search engines define relevancy of a result without some sort of link popularity mechanism in place?  Link popularity continues to be a major factor as to why one site places in the search result over another.  While it is not the only factor, it (linking) is still a key factor as to why we see placing for a given key phrase vs. seeing "Joe-blows" website appearing for that same phrase.  According to search engines like Google link popularity has a direct correlation to relevancy.  However this is true to a point.  Just because your site may have a high number of links does not mean you will place well in the results.  Enter the battle between link quality and link quantity.

Link quantity is just that, the number of links that you have pointing to your website's pages.  Quality on the other hand speaks to the relevancy of those links. At the end of the day it is link quality that helps promote a web property as an authority on a given topic.

For business to business (B2B) sites this is no different.  There is a need for B2B site owners to build their link inventories but prior to doing that from external sources, something that is often overlooked by many B2B sites is the importance of interlinking within your own site and web properties.

The Importance of Interlinking for B2B Websites

You may be familiar with our recent work at Enquiro with our BuyerSphere project where we discussed how businesses buy from other businesses.  Within the realm of the BuyerSphere we discussed the roles and differences between Doers and Buyers.  I wanted to touch on a very important fact with regards to buyers and doers.

While Buyers are the ones who often take control over the buying process, Doers are usually the ones who get the process going.  As a result they have a result over where this process goes.  So of course the Doer may have semantic mapped out their needs and as a result researched out or at least been pointed in the direction of a couple of "rungs on the ladder" that is potential solutions or vendors for their needs.  Doers tend to be the people in the organization who do the majority of the research for the desired solution.  As a result they may be the ones who are visiting your website looking for information to help reduce the risk or a potential purchase decision.  Here is where the importance of interlinking comes in.

If this Doer arrives on your site and cannot find what they are looking for, the risk in the selection your brand as a vendor automatically goes up.  While the information may be there, the Doer was unable to find it.  Effective interlinking can help reduce this risk.

5 Ways Interlinking Can Help B2B Websites
  1.  Directional Navigation - effective interlinking can help reduce the amount of time a user spends trying to find items on your web site.  If the Doer is looking for product specs of for software demos, you had better make sure that these items are easily accessed from any page, preferably a minimum of one or two clicks away.  In fact, for your main web pages, you want to ensure that they are just one click away from your home page.

  2. Interlinking Themed Content - from an SEO perspective creating themed content is a very important thing to do if you are to become an authority on a given topic.  If the Doer is interested in detailed product specs, it make sense to link to your product specs from your product detail page or from your product summary page.  Linking to related products or user generated reviews can also be of benefit to the user.  In the end interlinking can help direct the user to all of the information that they need to help move the process along.  As we all know B2B buying cycles can be long and are not necessarily linear.

  3. B2B SEO Benefit:  Improved Link Quality - proper interlinking on B2B websites can help from an SEO perspective.  Using SEO best practices, you can effectively interlink your site's page to improve the IBL (Inbound Linking) Quality score of the pages that are being linked to.  Think about it, you have direct control over the quality of a link from one of your pages to another page on your website.  You can have a direct impact on the all issues that affect link quality.  For example, you can link to the pages using relevant keyword rich anchor text, from a page with relevant keywords in the page title and with relevant keywords in the page copy.  This is a quality link, one that features keywords in the title, page copy and anchor text of the linking page.

  4. Improve the Quantity of Links - if you are not doing so already, you should be looking at Google Webmaster Tools data for your site on a regular basis.  The linking information that Google provides is worth it.  You can use Google Webmaster Tools data to evaluate which pages on your site have sufficient "internal links" and which pages, or sections of your site need interlinking improvements.  Let's suggest for a second that you added a new B2B product or solution to your site.  As this content is still new, you can identify existing pages that are relevant for the purpose of interlinking and improve the number of links that link to this new content.  While you do not want to go overboard, you'll be able to drive traffic to these related pages and help boost the relevancy of this new content.

  5. Interlinking of Conversion Triggers - similar to point number one, B2B site owners can use effective interlinking strategies to drive their visitors to conversion triggers throughout the site.  Whether it is to a micro or macro conversion, interlinking allows you to strategically direct your users to a conversion trigger where it make sense to do so.  In essence, you can drive the user through your desired path (i.e. to a conversion) by allowing them to set their own path by providing the relevance  and timeliness of the information that they desire.  Win-wins are always a good thing.
Interlinking your site pages can provide benefit from an SEO and more importantly user perspective.  Developing things such as an interlinking map and establishing an interlinking strategy can allow you to provide a richer and more efficient site experience.  The end result is that the Doer can find the information they seek thereby reducing the risk of making a poor contribution or ultimately poor purchase decision.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, October 23, 2009  
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