Is your website an apartment building or a carnival?
Whether consciously or not, many retailers imagine their website as something like an apartment building. Each page constitutes its own apartment. There are many apartments in the building, but they are all separate from each other. In order to get from one apartment to the next, you have to exit one, return to the hallway, take the elevator—that is, go back to the homepage, navigate menus, and search for links. It doesn’t necessarily make for a user experience worth sticking around for.
If we want to build better product visibility and SEO—and keep visitors engaged—we should be thinking of websites more like an open-air market or a carnival, where visitors can move freely from one place to another. There are no predetermined routes and content isn’t accessible only from one central location. Instead, there are lots of links between your attractions and booths (your pages), especially between your product listings and your other pages.
Those other pages are your opportunity to feature content that supports each product. Pictures of products, whether your own or user-submitted, can be linked back to the product page. Tools like 3D model viewers can also link directly to the product page. Whether they found the pictures first or the product page first doesn’t matter, as the two supplement each other.
For some websites, the “News,” “Blog,” and “About Us” sections exist in their own worlds, separate from product pages, accessible only through a separate menu. These pages are all great places to tell the story of your products, build your brand identity, and enhance SEO. Any press you receive, for example, should be linked to the products in question. As for blogs, they should not just be places to dump SEO keywords and hope you pull in some traffic.
Blogs should be written with SEO in mind, but more importantly, their content should support your products and demonstrate your brand identity. You can do this by describing the features of the product in more detail than can appear in a brief product description. You can also do this by connecting a story, a feeling, or an image to each product or product line. The American poet T.S. Eliot adopted the term “objective correlative” to describe the relationship between a concrete poetic image and an emotion. How do you want people to feel about a particular product? When have you yourself experienced those emotions? That kind of story creates a personal connection between a consumer, a product, and a brand. Who said those literature courses were useless?
Even your “About” page, which seems a mere formality on most sites, is a chance to reinforce brand identity and values and connect those concepts to your products. If your jewelry is made from recycled materials, for example, you can mention this in your product description and then link back to your “About Us” page where you go into your company’s commitment to environmental causes in more detail.
Internal linking is also an organic way to increase SEO. When your site becomes accessible to search engines like Google, these search engines analyze the structure of your website by following internal and external links. Pages with many backlinks will have more SEO value. The same holds for newer links, so linking a new blog post to a product page will raise the visibility of the blog and provide a link to a product to someone who found your blog post through a Google search. And they’ll be more likely to click that link and check out the product if you’ve written a compelling, engaging blog about it.
Your products are the star of the show. The rest of your website is all about serving and supporting those products, whether by showing pictures, creating stories, describing product features, or demonstrating how your products align with your and your customers’ values. All of these approaches work together through internal linking to enhance search engine optimization, brand identity, and product visibility. If you haven’t tried this method yet, browse your own website and look for places where pages can reinforce each other through internal linking.