Cross-linking: definition, SEO relevance and guidelines

The term "cross-linking" is used in various ways in the context of online marketing:

  • Most commonly, it refers to the process of reciprocal linking between two pages on different websites.
  • However, cross-linking can also take place internally between two pages on the same website, so that each page has a link to the other.

Internal cross-linking is either done manually or automated. Modern content management systems (CMS), on which websites are generally based today, are able to add cross-links via automatic commands. This provides increased flexibility and simplifies the administration of the website.

Why is cross-linking important for SEO?

By linking content in a meaningful way, website operators can push the engagement of their visitors. This is a logical consequence, as the links (ideally) suggest related content that is of high interest in the mutual information context of the pages.

E-commerce websites and their operators in particular are aware of the power of cross-links and therefore utilise them very intensively. Here, similar products that are closely related to a product are suggested to each other - keywords "You might also be interested in this". The principle of "whetting the appetite for more" via cross-links works in every business sector.

With good cross-linking, Google and co. record longer dwell times, more pages visited and more intensive use or conversions. This in turn can be very beneficial for the ranking. In addition, good cross-links also provide orientation for search engines.

Cross-linking between two separate websites is a good way to generate SEO-powerful backlinks. Here, website operators can negotiate a co-operation with the owners of websites with similar topics according to the motto "one hand washes the other". However, cross-backlinks are generally not recognised as having the same SEO power as one-way backlinks. Search engines probably recognise the cooperation tactic and rank such links lower.

Does cross-linking violate search engine guidelines (black-hat SEO)?

Cross-linking can be used to create numerous links relatively quickly and easily. These sometimes push the ranking of the pages in question considerably.

However, such cross-links are only maximally effective if they motivate visitors to search for further related information and provide them with real added value. If cross-linking is carried out solely with the focus on link building and possibly even irrelevant links are used, this can certainly lead to search engines lowering their rating and reducing the ranking of the pages.

In principle, however, setting cross-links is not black-hat SEO.

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