One of the most popular blogs I’ve ever written was thrown together in about 30 minutes so that I could explain Why Linktree is bad for SEO to a workshop group back in January 2018.
It’s now January 2021, Instagram still only allows us one link in our Instagram bio, and Linktree is still terrible for SEO (search engine optimisation).
(Edit: As of April 2023, you can now add up to 5 links to your Instagram profile, and everyone can add a link to their Instagram Stories – hooray!)
Linktree, Lnkbio, Shorby, Linkin.bio et al.
What has changed since 2018 is that there are now tens of brands who provide a similar service to Linktree, as opposed to the handful that existed three years ago.
Each platform seeks to address the same challenge: we talk about lots of things on Instagram, and lots of things need lots of links to lots of pieces of content. We need to move our audience from Instagram posts, Stories, Guides, Reels, IGTV and more from wherever they find us to the piece of content they want to read as efficiently as possible.
The solution is very very rarely Linktree or its competitors. They’re totally unnecessary, and damage your SEO.
SEO in a nutshell
If you have a website, you probably want people to find it when they type the things that you can help with into Google. Traffic from search engines like Google to your website is called organic traffic, and organic traffic is usually the most likely to buy/enquire and most plentiful.
That’s why we want to do everything we can to make it easier for Google to send peeps our way.
SEO is really all about the cheeky ‘O’ at the end. It’s just a list of things that helps us present our expertise and content in a way that Google can understand, so that it shows us higher up in the results and for more searchers.
And now let’s talk about why Linktree gets in the way of our SEO.
1. Linktree prevents some visitors from reaching your website
Google uses the amount of traffic you receive to judge the quality and relevance of your website. Your Linktree page sits on the Linktree website, which means the minimum journey your visitors need to take is:
Instagram profile > Linktree website > Your website
You might have already guessed where I’m going, but some of your audience will not make that second click. They’ll give all their lovely visits to Linktree, and you’ll get sweet fluff all. Your small business misses out on all those lovely positive SEO signals.
2. Instagram traffic is better for you than Linktree traffic
Not only can Google identify the source of your website visits, but it uses this information to make judgements about the quality and subject of your website.
Now that totally makes sense, if Google can see your website receiving visits from:
- a Bristol news website
- a popular craft blog
- an article on the best yarns
- a testimonial section on a small business marketing agency website
- a niche knitting business directory
…then that’s some superb evidence that you are a small business that sells really great yarn for knitting.
Traffic between Instagram and your website tells Google that your website, and the individual pages, products and blogs, are relevant and popular right now in that moment.
That’s really, really valuable.
Traffic from Linktree to your website tells Google that you use Linktree. End of list.
3. Linktree reduces the overall time spent on your website
One of the metrics Google monitors is the amount of time spent on your website, called the session duration. Longer sessions = higher quality content. And Google really loves high quality content.
Not only does Linktree take a step away from your visitors journey, which will cut down the session duration, but it increases the chances of rage quits because of poor management and upkeep.
Linktree users have to manually pick which links and pieces of content they want to appear in their tree. Thing is, us humans are proper rubbish at guessing everything our audience wants.
Sadly, a common example of this (that I see all the gosh-darn time) is when a Linktree profile doesn’t include a big-ass button to just take me to a website home page.
Sometimes I just wanna get to know a small business. Sometimes I want to send a specific thing to a friend. Sometimes I want to find your gosh-darn opening hours. And a lot of the time, the accounts that use these platforms miss basic links.
And if you’re thinking “Well Aime, surely that’ll get those nice long session durations when people try to find the piece of content?”, nah bbz. People are so damn lazy. Most will just leave.
The best Linktree alternative
It’s your own dang website. Linktree is single column with a few rows buttons on a page, and I am yet to find a website builder that doesn’t make it easy as rhubarb pie for you to make the same. Squarespace, Shopify, Wix, WordPress, Showit, BigCommerce? They can all make buttons.
See, the way Linktree addresses the challenge of turning one link into 5 links is totally adequate. Ya just don’t need it. You have a website that’ll already do everything you need, and you won’t take a hit on your SEO.
Back in 2018 I shared this screenshot of the first Linktree alternative page I made for the Studio Cotton website. Unfortunately we lost the full graphic when we accidentally broke our own website, so here’s an itty bitty thumbnail. Hopefully you can make out the column of buttons that was absolutely fine.
I’m writing this post on the day I’ve published the latest version of our Linktree alternative, our Instagram landing page, and I think it’s pretty sickenin’.
Yes, it is a long-ass page. But, all the recent and important stuff is right at the top to minimise friction, and we have plenty of engaging content to elongate the session duration. A short ‘n’ sweet Linktree alternative is perfectly a-ok, but y’all can go all-out too.
Your Instagram landing page is just another home page for your audience. It’s another opportunity to show off show dang amazing your small business is. Invest a little extra resource, make something your really proud of, and reap the SEO rewards.