Contextual Linking: Your web site is NOT a strip mall


How stupid would it be to buy or build a giant strip mall and put different departments of your business into each storefront? How stupid would it be to not put the department names on the doors, or not tell the customer service employees inside the store where the other departments were located, instead requiring shoppers to come back to the main (home) storefront to get directions to each department? Can we agree that would be the dumbest way to build a business?

I had someone tell me the story of their web site the other day and they had done a lot of things right. They have a great design, built on a solid platform with all of the proper technical features. They got a domain that perfectly matched their biggest target keyword phrase. They have good traffic from the keyword. They have a ridiculously low bounce rate at around 1%. Unfortunately, they're not converting traffic to leads at more than 1%.

When I looked at the site, they had no contextual links in their copy. Other than the nav bar, there was no way for a visitor to get to any other page on the site once she had read to the bottom of a page. I'm not a huge fan of those big SEO footers, but at least that would have given a visitor another way to click through to different pages. How is this different than my doomed strip mall?

What's a contextual link? Just link on natural phrases in your copy that move people to different pages in your site. When they are skimming and scanning, they'll find the words that interest them and click. Outsiders (web "experts") who look at sites that I've put together often say they have too many links in the copy. Customers who use the same sites to solve a problem praise us for how easy it was to reach their goal. I'm siding with the customer on this one. You can build your strip mall on your own.

NOTE: There are no contextual links in this story. Don't you wish I'd included some as an example? Isn't it boring compared to other posts you've read where the writer linked all over the place? Wouldn't it make sense for me to link to examples of sites I've built? What if I've impressed you with my strip mall metaphor and you want to hire me? I guess you're on your own. You're smart. You'll figure it out, IF YOU HAVE TIME AND PATIENCE.

photo credit: DannyBen

4 thoughts on “Contextual Linking: Your web site is NOT a strip mall

  1. Garious

    I wonder if you’re talking about hyperlinks? I guess when it comes to having a successful website, you don’t want to confuse your visitors. That’s the worse thing you can make them feel and anyone who felt lost will most definitely not want to come back to visit your site the second time around. On the side, I love the way you write your point and yes, I do get it! Thanks.


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