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Calls to Action, Penalties, and Link Dilution

In our last blog post, we reached way back into our archives to answer a question about a blog post we wrote last year. This ancient post had detailed the downfall of the call to action (CTA), the paragraph that often comes at the end of a legal blog post that urges readers to contact the firm. In last week’s post, we gave three reasons why, in last year’s article, we had described how CTAs were on their way out, and then promptly ended the piece with, you guessed it, a CTA.

One of the main reasons for using CTAs is because they’re an excellent opportunity to create internal links to pages on your site that you want to target. These include pages like your contact page, as well as any landing pages that describe your practice areas and that are designed specifically to convert leads.

This, of course, raises a question: If you can cram CTAs with internal links and score some SEO points, why not fill your CTA with nothing but links? Why link to only your contact page, home page, and a practice area page when you can link to seven, ten, or even twenty other pages on your site?

Because, at best, the power of those links would dilute themselves. At worst, it would penalize your site.

Having Too Many Links Could Penalize Your Site

In the primitive days of Google (the early to mid-2000s), links were the Holy Grail of search engine optimization (SEO). Online marketers would pay each other to link to their sites and even set up entire websites to do nothing but list links to their domains. For awhile, it worked, sending crummy websites to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) simply because their owners knew how to manipulate the rankings by creating links.

Eventually, though, Google caught on and started penalizing these black hat SEO tactics to promote websites that were both relevant and important for given search queries.

One of the ways that Google did this was to penalize sites that had more than 100 links in them. This rule has since relaxed a bit, but Google has expressly reserved the right to penalize sites that have so many links that they seem “spammy.”

Link Dilution

diluting ink in water shows how internal links weakenEven if you were not using links in a way that Google deemed “spammy,” cramming your CTA with internal links doesn’t help your site any more than if you only included a couple of links.

Under Google’s algorithms, a webpage like a legal blog post only has a set amount of link juice. If you only link to Page A in that blog post, all of that link juice would be pointed at Page A. If you link to A and to B, though, that link juice would be split 50/50 between the two. Additional links further dilutes the power of each one of those links.

Including twenty internal links in a CTA, therefore, merely disburses the SEO benefit of each one of those links.