Where Links Fit Within the Marketing Funnel


“Just link to my product pages!”

If you’ve worked in SEO long enough, you’ve undoubtedly heard this request.

If you’re an in-house marketer searching for an SEO vendor, please don’t make this request.

This may seem counterintuitive since product pages are typically your most valuable pages in terms of conversions, but conversion value doesn’t necessarily translate to link-worthiness.

For some reason, when it comes to links, we see clients forgetting how their marketing funnels work, focusing solely on bottom funnel pages.

Of course, SEO and link building should influence the search visibility of your most important, bottom funnel pages (category and product pages), but in this post, I want to explain:

  • How links fit within the marketing funnel.
  • How to sustainably earn links that feed your entire funnel.

Different Pages for Different Stages

The pages on your website serve different purposes and functions, and different pages are meant for different types of visitors.

A complete website will feature pages that serve every stage of your marketing funnel – from awareness to purchase – to ensure you’re reaching all your audience and moving them towards becoming loyal customers.

For example, the website of the company I work for has:

  • Service pages that inform visitors who are considering an SEO vendor.
  • Guides and resources that provide information for visitors who are new to SEO and looking to learn more.

You need both types of pages, and everything in between, to meet your audience at their corresponding stages of the funnel.

Each of your pages should serve a specific purpose and select portion of your visitors. Not all pages on your site are going to relevant to all users.

Because there are pages on your site that aren’t relevant to segments of your own audience, it makes sense that there are also pages that won’t be relevant to the audiences of other sites.

If your page isn’t relevant to another site’s audience, the human that manages that site is never going to link to that page – there is no benefit for them to link.

Therefore, some pages are more linkable than others, because they have a broader appeal to larger audiences.

(Most) Link Opportunity Exists at the Top of the Funnel

Pages with a broader appeal are typically more linkable, and these pages usually live at the top of your marketing funnel.

Informational, top funnel pages are link-worthy for a couple reasons:

  • There is usually more search demand surrounding these topics.
  • These types of pages provide inherent value (free information).

The lower you go down the funnel, the more specific and smaller an audience you’ll target – more people are searching for [how to mount a TV] than are searching for a specific TV mount model.

So, your page about how to safely mount a TV will be relevant to many more websites (link prospects) and their corresponding audiences than your page about a specific mount.

From a site manager’s perspective, a page that instructs readers on how to do something is much more useful to their readers than a page trying to sell them a product.

Site owners want to link to pages that benefit their audience, and they are much more likely to link to the how-to page because it bolsters their own reputation as a trusted resource.

This is why SEOs cringe when a client wants to emphasize their product pages for a link acquisition campaign – securing links to product and category pages isn’t sustainable.

However, it’s possible to influence the visibility of these pages by linking internally to them from more link-worthy, top funnel pages.

Internal links can pass link equity and topical authority to other pages, and an effective link building strategy will leverage internal links to impact bottom funnel pages.

With all that being said, it’s not impossible to earn links to product pages and other pages at the bottom of your funnel.

But the problem is that these opportunities are very limited, and you can not sustain a long-term link building campaign with mid and low-end funnel pages.

To better understand why link opportunities dissipate the further down the funnel you go, I’ll share some examples of the different opportunities at each stage.

Link Opportunities at Each Stage of the Funnel

While most link opportunities exist for top funnel content, it is possible to earn a handful of links for mid and bottom funnel pages.

Consider the different types of content you have at each stage of the funnel and think about how large the potential audience might be for those pages.

If you’re unsure of which pages fit where in your funnel, check out this helpful guide from HubSpot on creating content for each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Here are some of the common opportunities available for each type of page.

Top Funnel Pages

Typically, these are the most linkable pages on your site. There is a wealth of link opportunity for this type of content:

  • Audience resource pages
    • Enthusiasts and clubs
    • Online communities and groups
    • Public agencies (schools, government, etc.)
  • Informational resource pages
    • Guides and how-to’s
    • Information hubs
    • Authoritative lists
  • Business list resource pages
    • Directories
    • Associations
    • Partners pages
    • Sponsor pages
    • Vendors that sell your products or services
  • Citations

Mid Funnel Pages

Mid funnel pages address the consideration stage of the funnel and usually reference your products or services, but more in the sense of their application rather than describing their features.

Common link opportunities for these pages include:

  • Unlinked brand mentions
    • You have no control over mentions as these opportunities are completely reliant on other people talking about your brand.
  • Industry comparison sites
    • These pages often involve affiliate partnerships and won’t link to non-affiliates.

Bottom Funnel Pages

Again, these are the most difficult pages to attract links to because they are commercial and don’t provide broad value. However, there are a few limited opportunities here:

  • Unlinked product or service mentions
    • Again, reliant on product or service recognition and popularity.
  • Product listing pages
    • Typically tied to affiliate programs.
  • Local guide pages
    • Contextual depending on industry and not deeply scalable because you’re limited by location.
  • Directories
    • Limited opportunities for quality directory listings – is there a section of the directory that is topically relevant to your page? Are people visiting the directory? Is it indexed? Does it cost money to be listed?

It’s possible to secure links to mid and lower-end funnel pages on your website, but the further down the funnel you go, the narrower your audience becomes and subsequently, link opportunities become much more limited.

A complete SEO strategy aims to influence the overall visibility of your site, helping your potential customers find your website in search.

All pages won’t rank for all things, but strategic SEO helps you identify search intent – and what stage of the funnel they’re at – and matches those searches with your corresponding content.

Additionally, a comprehensive SEO strategy will inform content creation to ensure you’re addressing your entire funnel and audience.

Since links are such a powerful ranking factor, we often see clients assume that they must link directly to their product pages to rank those converting pages.

However, targeting top funnel pages, which have far more link opportunity, and then leveraging internal links from those pages is a much more sustainable link acquisition strategy for impacting rankings of bottom funnel pages.

More Resources:


Image Credits

Featured Image: Created by author, February 2019

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