You know what I’m talking about. Every website circa 1995 had a “Links” page in their navigation. An endless page of links to other websites, sometimes with titles above each link and a little description, but often it was just a standard web page with dozens of blue links. If you have a “Links” page on your website right now, I am going to make a case for you to drop it in favor of more valuable content.
The original purpose for a “Links” page was for search engine optimization. In the early days of the internet and Google you were more likely to show up on the coveted “page one” of search results if there were lots of websites linking back to you. On the extreme side there were entire websites devoted to “linking back” to other websites, often referred to as Link Farms. On the less extreme, websites would link to each other to mutually push each other up in the search results.
The “Links” page was also used as a resource for visitors. It became one of those default pages like “About” “Contact” and “Home”. What started out as a useful way to share information has devolved into a page that is largely ignored. With the rise of social media and online communities there are now better ways to share information with your followers.
Individual websites can be made up of dozens and even hundreds of pages. Organization of all of those pages is crucial to keeping visitors coming back to your website. It is equally important to reduce high level navigation links to only what is necessary. If a page makes up less than 5% of your web traffic then it shouldn’t be in the main navigation. Save your navigation for the pages that your visitors most often frequent.
Even if you decide to keep your “Links” page, you may want to consider putting the link to the page in the footer or in a sub category of your navigation.
I recently redesigned a website for a client, Becky, who had a “Links” page. I asked her what she felt the goal or purpose of the page was. She told me that it was a list of resources and software that she encouraged her clients to use. My next question was, “Do you point clients to this page?”. Answer: “No.”
We decided that instead, the links would be replaced with “Resources” on her website. What was previously a single title and link would turn into a full page article. For example, Becky wants her clients to use Evernote to document ideas, write email drafts, maintain reading lists, and more. Not only does she recommend her clients use Evernote, but she wants them to use it in a specific way, all of which she will explain in the resource article.
In this way, Becky will not only be removing a previously unvisited page from her website, but she will be adding valuable content for her clients and prospects, increase content that can be shared, and organically boost her keywords for search engine optimization.
This seems like a no brainer, but linking to your competitors hurts you in a lot of ways. Number One: you are giving your prospective clients a direct link to a business other than your own. You want them to buy your services, not someone else’s. Secondly, you are contributing to their search rankings by linking to their website. Meaning that you are boosting (however little it might be) their search ranking in Google. No bueno.
I recently quoted a website for a prospect who expressed a desire to increase their search rankings on Google. Despite being an internationally recognized company, they are so buried in Google that I couldn’t even find them when searching for their key service. During my research for the quote I discovered the dreaded “Links” page at the very top of their navigation. Even worse, they were linking directly to the competitor that they most wanted to beat in the Google search rankings.
If you have links to competitors on your website right now, open a new window and go change it. I’ll wait. Removed them? Awesome, keep reading.
If you have Google Analytics, or other web tracking installed go and see what percentage of your web traffic is visiting your “Links” page. If this number is pretty high, obviously you are doing something right and shouldn’t mess with it.
If your “Links” page has really valuable content that you refer clients and prospects to frequently, you may want to consider renaming the page to something more relevant. For example, I discovered many websites use the “Links” page as a resource directory, especially on educational websites. You could add value to a directory page by categorizing links or adding a description and title to each link.
For example, if I wanted to provide a comprehensive directory of stock photography websites it would be helpful to visitors to identify which websites had free stock photography versus those that are paid and have monthly fees. I could also show examples of the type of stock photography and describe what makes that particular website unique from the others. The title of this page might be “stock photography directory” or “stock photography resources”.
Make sure that every page on your website serves a real purpose. Adding a page to your website just because everyone else has it is not a good reason. Consumers are more savvy than ever, and highly value their time. If you waste their time by forcing them to thumb through content that has no value you will be losing them as a customer. Whether you have a “Links” page or not take some time to go through your website and ask yourself “Is this page providing value to my customers?”. If the answer is no, you might want to reevaluate.
Contact me to schedule a strategy meeting, about the goals for your website and how we can make your brand reflect the awesomeness that is your business.