Backlinks are a crucial part of organic traffic. Not only does a site get traffic from people clicking on those backlinks, but more backlinks indicate to search engines that a site is an authority, helping it rise up the search engine rankings.
There are several factors that can contribute towards a site being considered unlinkable. Site owners won’t want to link to a site that has low-quality content or a poor design. Even with great content and a sharp design, there are a few common barriers that reduce the likelihood of a site getting those ever-important backlinks.
1. Too Much Gated Content
Gated content is when we require the visitor to provide information in return for gaining access to the content. We see this all the time on a variety of sites, as it’s a very common tactic to obtain visitor information. It’s an effective way to build up an email list – we offer a small gift, such as an eBook, to the visitor, he just needs to enter his email address before he can view it.
There’s nothing wrong with gating content, but we need to make sure that we’re not gating the wrong type of content or gating too much of it to the point where it negatively impacts the visitor experience.
If you read many news articles online, you may have noticed that some sites allow you to read articles without providing information, while others require that you enter some of your information and sign in first to access any content. If you’re going to reference a news story on your site, which one are you more likely to choose – a story that opens when your readers click the link or a story that requires your readers to fill out a form first? Unless there’s a drastic quality difference, you’ll probably go with the story that doesn’t inconvenience your readers.
Gating our eBooks, live demos, white papers, webinars, and other in-depth content is fine. Blogs, videos, infographics, on the other hand, don’t need a gate. When in doubt, keep it ungated, as your first priority should be the visitor experience on your site.
2. Paginated Content
Pages are a great way to break up lengthy content into smaller sections. The problem with paginated content, though, is that it’s easy to overdo it or paginate content that doesn’t need to be paginated. This is especially annoying for us when it’s a list article and each item has its own page with a small blurb of text. We read the blurb in 10 seconds, and then need to click the arrow to go to the next page, which makes going through the content choppy and frustrating.
If your content naturally lends itself to a slideshow format, then it’s fine to paginate it. When we click on an article for what celebrities were wearing on the red carpet, we expect to click through several pages, since each page will likely have an image and some text. This also keeps page speeds high, because if all the content was on one page, the number of images would take more time to load.
Most content doesn’t need pagination. Even if it’s a list, you can still put multiple list items on a single page. If you publish an article listing the 10 ways readers would benefit from installing hardwood flooring in their homes, you don’t need 10 pages.
If you have paginated content on your site, make sure that you include a “View as One Page” option at the top. People appreciate having the option to view paginated content on a single page.
3. Intrusive Interstitials
If you don’t know what an interstitial is, it’s the ad that appears on a page. Forbes is notorious for these, as anytime we click on a Forbes story, we first need to go through the interstitial which includes a quote and an ad for another company by clicking on the “Continue to Site” button.
We also see this often with sites that want to build their email lists. Before we can see the content, the site presents us with a box for our email address and mentions the free eBook or another item we’ll receive for signing up.
It may only take a second or two to click away these interstitials, but they can be frustrating, especially for users on mobile devices. That’s one reason that Google has started punishing sites that have mobile intrusive interstitials by knocking them down in the search results.
Just like with gated content and paginated content, intrusive interstitials present an obstacle for people to view your content. No one likes needing to do more work for content, and if your intrusive interstitials frustrate a site owner, they aren’t going to link to your site.
The best course of action is avoiding interstitials entirely. If you want to include one on your site, limit its size so that it only covers about a quarter of the screen or less and make sure that you put it either at the top or the bottom of the page, not in the middle. Google doesn’t punish sites that have banners which take up a reasonable amount of space, and it doesn’t cause as much frustration for visitors, either.
4. Complicated Design
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with a unique site layout, you should never put form over function when it comes to your site’s design. You also need to consider whether a unique layout fits your brand and the image you’re trying to present.
People expect sites to function a certain way, depending on the type of site they’re visiting. If your site functions differently, they’re more likely to leave than they are to admire how cool it is.
For example, consider what we expect when we visit an e-commerce site. We assume it’s going to have a search bar, featured products, and links to view specific categories of products. If you have an e-commerce site with a unique layout that doesn’t have a search bar and has oddly arranged categories, you won’t make many sales.
When you build your site, start with basic functionality. If you want to add some creative touches after that, feel free to do so, as long as it doesn’t make your site more difficult to use. An easy-to-navigate site has a much better chance of building up backlinks.
5. Long Loading Times
Here’s what happens if our site takes too long to load – the visitor closes it and moves on to another site. We expect sites to load quickly, and page load times over a couple seconds will result in visitors bouncing. Site owners won’t link to sites that take forever to load.
Considering Google has a free tool available to check page speeds, there’s no excuse for a site that doesn’t load quickly. With Google Developers PageSpeed Insights, all you need to do is enter your site’s URL and it will assign your site a speed score for both computers and mobile devices. A score of 85 or higher is the desired range.
PageSpeed Insights includes suggestions on how you can improve your site’s speed, so you should implement these, especially if your site didn’t score an 85 with either type of device. The tool also provides step-by-step instructions for implementing each suggestion.
There are all kinds of factors that could be reducing how likely people are to link to your site, but these five are the among the most common. Even if backlinks aren’t a priority for you, correcting these issues also improves the visitor experience for your site, so it’s a good idea to do so.
Keep in mind that your backlinks are also a vital part of your SEO, and improving your SEO can have a dramatic effect on your traffic numbers. SEO is a complicated subject, but SEO services through the Internet Marketing Team provide a simple and affordable way for you to get your site higher in the search results.