I don’t know about you, but here at WILO, we stand by internal linking as a go-to for increasing site engagement.
Be interesting and hype up your linking strategy to reduce bounce rates!
Just like the rest of SEO, it’s a thought-out process that takes time.
But don’t let that put you off, the results you can bring to your website, are worth more than any sponsored promotion on Google.
Let’s get into it.
Understanding Bounce Rates
What Are Bounce Rates?
Bounce rate is the percentage of site visitors who leave your website after viewing only one page.
Low bounce rates mean you have something people are looking for within your content.
Whereas high bounce indicates that visitors are not engaging with your content as expected.
The SEO Connection
Higher rates are more than just a user experience issue; they also affect your site’s SEO.
Search engines like Google take bounce into account when deciding the quality and relevance of your content.
An increased rate can signal to search engines that the content isn’t that great, so it’s not meeting user expectations.
All this can lead to lower rankings.
Factors Contributing to High Bounce Rates
Several factors include:
- Slow page loading times.
- Unappealing website design.
- Irrelevant content.
However, one aspect that is often overlooked is poor internal linking.
Internal Linking: A Powerful SEO Tool
What Is Internal Linking?
Internal linking involves adding hyperlinks that connect one page to another on your site.
These links can lead users to related content, allowing them to explore your website further.
Benefits of Internal Linking
- Improved UX: They can guide users to similar content, making it easier to find what they are looking for.
- Enhanced SEO: Links help search engines understand the organisation of your website, which can lead to better indexing and rankings.
- Decreased Bounce: Good internal linking can encourage users to explore more pages, reducing bounce rates.
Types of Internal Links
- Navigational: Found in the site’s nav bar, it helps users move between sections.
- Contextual: Within the content, direct people to articles, products or pages.
- Footer: A convenient way for users to access important pages.
- Related Post: Common in blogs, these suggest other articles that readers might find interesting.
The Role of Internal Linking in Reducing Bounce Rates
Providing Additional Content
One of the main roles is the ability to provide users with additional relevant content.
When users land on a page and find links to related articles or products, they are more likely to click through and continue spending time on your site.
To maximise the impact:
- Use Relevant Anchor Text: Make sure the text you use for internal links is descriptive and provides users with clear expectations.
- Deep Linking: Link to specific content rather than just a homepage or main category pages; it keeps people engaged.
Keeping Users Interested
Internal linking can also play a crucial role in users staying interested in your site.
By guiding them to related content or products, you prolong their stay on your website.
Visitors are led from one piece of content to another, forming a logical and enjoyable path through your website.
The further they go, the more they connect to your brand, products or message.
This decreases the likelihood of them bouncing back to the search results.
Lowering Exit Rates
Exit rates are different from bounce rates; they represent the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing multiple pages.
Internal linking can help lower exit rates by encouraging users to explore additional pages, reducing their chances of leaving too soon.
For instance, if your ‘Contact Us’ page has a high exit page, add internal links to related pages like FAQs, reviews or products.
This gives people an alternative path to follow, keeping them on the site longer.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples to showcase how effective strategies can have a positive impact on bounce.
Imagine you run an e-commerce business selling tech.
Your product pages are where you make sales, but you’ve noticed that many users leave after viewing just one product.
By including internal links to related products, user reviews and related accessories, you create a web of engagement.
You also encourage users to explore more products, thus reducing bounce rates and potentially boosting sales.
Blog Content Engagement:
If you own a blog that covers a wide range of topics, internal linking can significantly boost user engagement.
Suppose a visitor lands on an article about “Healthy Eating Habits”.
Skilfully insert links to other articles about meal planning, exercise routines, or nutritious recipes to further interest readers.
In these examples, the strategic use of internal links not only improves UX but also has a direct impact on business goals.
Measuring The Impact of Internal Linking on Bounce Rates
One aspect of any good SEO strategy is the ability to measure impact.
With internal linking and bounce rates, thorough measurement is key to getting a good idea of your progress.
Setting Baseline Metrics
Before making any changes to your site’s internal linking strategy, establish a benchmark for your site’s current data.
This is a starting point for any improvements or setbacks caused by your efforts.
To set the metrics effectively:
1. Identify Current Bounce Rates
Use analytics tools like Google Analytics to determine your current bounce rates across your whole site, as well as for individual pages.
This data will give you a clear picture of your starting point.
2. Assess Other Relevant Metrics
Besides bounce rates, take note of others like average session duration, pages per session, and conversion rates.
These metrics offer a broader context for evaluating user engagement and site performance.
3. Keyword Rankings
If your internal linking strategy involves optimising specific pages for certain keywords, record your current rankings.
This will help you assess whether your strategy has a positive impact on your search engine visibility.
4. User Demographics and Behaviour
Consider looking at and researching location and device usage to understand your users better.
The information you get can tailor your internal linking to specific user segments.
Once you have a good set of baseline metrics, you’ll be ready to crack on with your internal linking and watch its impact.
Tracking Changes in Bounce
After you’ve done the above, your next task is to monitor changes in bounce rates closely.
Ideally, the goal is to see a noticeable decrease as users engage with more pages on your site.
1. Regular Bounce Checks
Continuously track your website’s bounce rate using analytics tools.
Set up automated reports to receive updates regularly so that you can identify trends over time.
Segment your data to gain more insights.
For example, analyse bounce rates for different page types (e.g. blog posts, product pages, landing pages).
Or based on traffic sources (e.g. organic search, social media, referrals).
3. Comparative Analysis
Compare bounce rates before and after making any changes to your linking strategy.
This comparison will reveal whether your efforts are leading to the desired outcome.
4. Page-Level Analysis
Don’t just look at overall bounce rates.
Dive deeper into specific pages.
Are there pages where bounce rates have significantly decreased?
It can give you clues about the effectiveness of your internal linking on particular content.
5. User Journey Mapping
Map out the typical user journey on your site and look at the bounce rates at each stage.
Are users navigating through your site as you intended, or are there drop-off points that need addressing?
Remember that changes to bounce rates may not be immediate.
It may take time for some users to discover and engage with your internally linked content.
Be patient, and keep up the good work!
Monitoring Other SEO Metrics
While bounce rates are an important metric to watch, having a holistic view of your site’s overall performance is good practice.
Other SEO metrics can help you understand the broader impact of your linking:
Track changes to see if internal linking drives more visitors to your site.
Increased organic traffic can be a positive sign that your content is becoming more discoverable.
Time on Site:
An increase in the average time users spend on your site can suggest improved engagement.
This can often be a direct result of quality internal linking.
Pages per Session:
Analyse whether the number of pages users visit during a single session has increased.
It can show you that users are more actively exploring your content.
If your site has conversion goals, like lead generation or e-commerce sales, monitor whether internal linking positively affects these rates.
Increased conversions can be a strong sign of success.
Check if your targeted keywords are improving in search engine rankings.
Effective internal linking can boost the authority and relevance of linked pages, leading to higher rankings.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in Internal Linking
1. Overloading Pages with Links
Too many links look sloppy and, honestly, a little off-putting.
Here’s how to balance your linking:
- Quality over Quantity: Don’t bombard the page with any link you think will work; link to the most relevant and valuable content that aligns with the page’s purpose.
- Consider User Flow: Think about the user’s journey on a page; Where are they are likely to go next?
- Content Relevance: Make sure the linked content is genuinely related to the page’s topic; irrelevant links can confuse and disrupt people.
- Use Contextual Links: Weave them into the copy, where they make sense naturally, so nothing seems forced or excessive.
2. Using Non-Descriptive Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable text within a link, and it’s a guidepost for users.
Using vague or misleading text can lead to user dissatisfaction and increase bounce rates.
Here’s how to do it well:
- Be Descriptive: It should give users a clear idea of what they’re clicking on.
- Avoid Generic Text: No “click here” or “read more”; these don’t offer any context.
- Use Keywords Strategically: Use relevant keywords within the anchor text; this can have SEO benefits.
- Natural Integration: Make sure the anchor text isn’t out of place; it should flow seamlessly.
You really don’t want to drive people away from your site all the time.
Especially when it’s such an easy fix.
It can take time to get your internal linking strategy a well-oiled machine, but the impact it has on your bounce rates is worth the effort.
Why not try out our WordPress plugin, WILO, to get the ball rolling.