As Instagram has become one of the most popular platforms for sharing branded content, the issue of driving users from Instagram to a website has become more prominent.
Instagram does not currently allow for clickable URLs in image captions, meaning you either have to force your users to copy and paste the URL into a browser (what is this, the Stone Age?!) or you have to send them to your profile page and update the clickable URL in your bio for every new post. Linktree saw this issue and decided to address it by launching the now ubiquitous linktr.ee links you now see in millions of Instagram profiles across the platform. This allowed content creators to have a single link that could contain links to all their latest posts, in a relatively slick and user friendly interface.
However, is using a Linktree in your Instagram bio actually hurting your website’s traffic and SEO?
There are actually a lot of reasons that using a Linktree link is not doing your website any favours, and might actually be causing you to lose traffic and Google rankings. Find out why you should ditch the Linktree below!
The first thing that Linktree is forcing you to miss out on is a branding opportunity for your freshest content.
The free version of Linktree, which a majority of creators will be using, only offers a very limited number of branding options to personalize your landing page. You can choose between a handful of colours and fonts, but that’s about it. There is also a Linktree logo at the bottom of the page that takes up about as much real estate as the logo they allow you to upload. This allows them to piggyback off your hard work whilst also muddying the branding of the user experience.
Even with the paid version, you are still bound by the options Linktree has available to brand your landing page environment. If you have a completely unique branded font or theme, even paying the $6USD per month for the premium version won’t give you a Linktree that feels exactly like you.
Another big miss with Linktree is the woefully inadequate analytics they provide on how users interact with your content.
The free version of Linktree shows you only two metrics: total number of times each link has been clicked, and the lifetime views on your Linktree. This is rather unhelpful from a digital marketing and SEO perspective, as you cannot gauge day to day clicks, and you also cannot tell when a user clicked through to your Linktree but then didn’t continue through to a destination link. Even if you are tracking your website traffic with Google Analytics (which you definitely should be!), traffic from any Linktree visitor will show up under ‘Referrals’, when in actuality it should be showing up under ‘Social’.
The paid version offers you slightly more built out Analytics options, addressing most of the issues presented by the free version limitations. However, if you are an agency that manages many different social clients have every one of them has a Linktree, absorbing the cost of so many different paid Linktree accounts can start to bite into your bottom line.
Another thing that a Linktree does is add an additional step in the user journey.
Generally speaking, the best digital marketing strategies involve making the barrier to entry for users as low as possible, so it takes the least amount of effort to engage with and consume your content. If there are too many steps to get from awareness to engagement, many users will likely give up and move on with their days.
As Instagram only gives you one clickable URL in your bio, you have to make it count, and changing it after every new post goes live isn’t exactly feasible. Linktree did address this problem, but it also added another step in the user journey. Users now have to click on the Linktree and then once they get to the landing page, click another link to finally make it to your website.
While there isn’t really a way around having this extra step, sending users to a different domain (such as Linktr.ee) and then finally on to your domain is a wasted opportunity to bring users directly to your website with the first click.
Perhaps the single largest downside to using Linktree is the potential for lost website traffic to your own site.
Using a Linktree link forces users to first go to Linktr.ee, and then click through to your website. Inevitably, there will be some users that land on the Linktree page and then decide not to proceed and close the tab. This means that Linktree got a visitor to their site, but you missed out on getting one to yours!
This is particularly relevant for SEO purposes, as Google pays attention to which sites are getting the most traffic when deciding where to rank them during search results. Generally speaking, websites that are receiving a lot of traffic will rank higher than those that do not. In the Linktree scenario, Linktree is getting a visitor to its site, but that user is not moving on to your site, thus causing your domain to miss out on a visitor. Google will see that Linktree is getting traffic and pass on an SEO boost to them accordingly, leaving your site out in the cold!
So, if Linktree isn’t the Golden Goose we all thought it was, what should you be doing instead?
The answer is simple: use your own website!
Creating a specific landing page on your own domain that is optimized for mobile can address all of the issues presented by Linktree in one go. As you control everything about the landing page, there won’t be any branding issues and you are free to create a completely branded environment for your users. Having a landing page living directly on your domain means it can be tracked by Google Analytics, and having users arrive at that page coming directly from Instagram means it will be attributed to Social traffic. While it doesn’t technically shorten the user journey, the user only has to take one click to arrive on your actual website, meaning you will hopefully be in with the better chance to encourage them to stay longer. Not only that, but after just one click you will have gained a visitor to your website, which Google will notice when it comes time to rank your site during a Google search!
You can create landing pages that function the exact same way as a Linktree, complete with attractive buttons that link to your latest content, as well as a ‘Contact Us’ button, social channels, and more. While updating your landing page might not be as slick or easy as updating a Linktree, once you get the hang of it, the benefits will far outweigh the temporary additional work.
While Linktree is an easy and convenient way to compile your latest content for your users to consume, be aware of the various compromises that come with it. Limited branding and analytics, extended user journeys, and lost website traffic are all detrimental to your brand and your SEO, so it is often worth the extra work to create a completely custom landing page on your own domain and reap the benefits of your quality content directly!