Whilst part 1 of my “Taking Your SEO Knowledge Up A Notch” article covered external linking, part 2 covers my key tips for the lesser known linking concepts by client side marketers, known as internal linking. Below I have detailed 9 tips to round out my 20 linking tips.
1) Link Juice Flow; External link building helps to generate link juice to your site, however your internal linking structure is what helps to distribute it. As a sites homepage usually has the highest PageRank, it is important to develop a well thought out linking structure to distribute page rank to other pages in need of link juice within the site.
2) Tell it as it is; When creating internal links within your site, use descriptive text to describe your links to enable Google to understand the context of the links. Websites often use “Click Here” which does not provide Google with any clues as to the type of content that a particular page is linking to.
3) Map it out; Site maps are not only useful for users but can assist sites, particularly large ones, to have their pages easily indexed by spiders. This is because site maps provide one central directory of pages on a site, making it easy for search engines to crawl and index the pages on your site. There are 2 types of site maps needed these are HTML and XML. HTML site maps are loaded onto sites for users, whilst XML site maps can be loaded into the Google Webmaster tool and are indexable by other search engines.
4) Leave a trail of breadcrumbs; Not only is breadcrumb navigation helpful for users to navigate a site, but by nature breadcrumb navigation are links, thus these can improve a sites internal linking. In addition if breadcrumb navigation contains relevant descriptive keywords it can add more value to your internal linking strategy.
5) Don’t build a monstrosity; It is important to consider the depth of your site. If a link is more than 3 clicks from the home page, it will drastically decrease the chance of Google being able to index it, especially if the page has no external links. Thus if your site is deeper than 3 clicks, consider how secondary level pages can be linked to those pages deep within the site.
6) Share the love; Outbound linking from your site is obviously a contentious issue because it channels valuable link juice away from your site. Some SEO experts however claim that linking out can contribute positively to your sites ranking. How? Amongst many other variables in the Google algorithm, it is believed Google analyses the quality of outbound links from a site as this provides an indication of if the site is a quality source of content. In addition linking out can increase the number of links pointing back to your site, as it creates a signal that your company is prepared to engage in the natural linking process of the web.
7) Don’t Pussy Foot Around; Footers are becoming more well known for containing content specifically crafted for search engines. Whilst footers provide a useful way to link to important pages from the home page, excessive use of them could negatively impact the flow of page rank as Google may penalise such behaviour. Thus it is important to consider how your site architecture can best support your SEO efforts from the get go. In the first instance consider how best a site’s navigation and internal linking efforts can effectively distribute pageRank without sole reliance on the footer navigation.
8) Don’t over do it; Before you start to cross link every page think about the impact on your user base. Whilst internal linking provides SEO benefits it can confuse the user and drive the user away from your site. SEO is the art of driving traffic from search engines and converting it – ranking in search engines is only half the job.
9) Just do it; Webmasters and marketers alike are fortunate to control on-page optimisation, thus it is so surprising that internal linking is so under-utilised compared with techniques such as copy optimisation. Before however diving in, invest the time to develop a structured linking plan rather than using a scatter gun approach. My final piece of advice is do it (internal linking) and do it well and it will probably give you an edge over many of your competitors.
If you have any other internal linking tips, please add them below