Published on 25/02/2015
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a complex field with a long list of criteria you need to work on in order to naturally appear at top positions. We will focus today on Internal Linking.
Internal Linking means creating links between different pages within one site. This is with no doubt an important aspect of SEO and the key to good internal linking is the most important aspect of SEO – a lot of high quality content. Internal links work only when there is a lot of content and respectively a lot of internal pages.
The full list of pages within a website should look like a pyramid, the top being the homepage. Building such a hierarchy is the foundation of a Successful Internal Linking.
Below is a list of some basic recommendations:
1) Use anchor text
Internal links should use anchor text as opposed to linked images. This means to use natural phrases of a sentence within your text, highlight them and link them to your targeted pages. Image links are fine as long as they are not the main source of your links and are properly alt-tagged.
2) Link deep
Do not overload the Homepage with too many links pointing to internal pages. Rather work to strengthen internal pages, which will boost your overall SEO results.
Avoid linking to top menu pages, because they are already included in main navigation.
Avoid linking to contact page, unless absolutely necessary. Contact Us page usually has limited content with almost no desired keywords and it is most probably included in the top menu links.
The deeper in the page hierarchy, the better. The best links you can create are also the most natural links in a content marketing strategy — deep within the structure of a site.
3) Link relevant
When you add a link in your content you send a message to both the search engine and the reader. The Search engine will consider the targeted page as so relevant and important that you want your visitor to easily follow the link and go straight there.
Simultaneously the reader will consider the targeted page as potentially more valuable that the current page and they may want to stop what they are reading and go to the next page.
Readers want that. You will further engage them on your site and will help them with relevant, more detailed information. Internal linking is about providing value to the reader. By doing this, you will also help your SEO.
4) Create a reasonable number of internal links
Google’s instructions read: “Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number.”
Although there is no specified number, what we need to consider is not to overload the reader with too many highlighted and hyperlinked parts of text. This will make their experience on our site unpleasant. That is why we need to provide as many links as would be helpful for the all-important user.
Have in mind that the total number of internal links on a particular page includes all links – from logo, top menu and main navigation, to sidebar, content links and footer.
5) Divide internal links by importance and place the most important ones at high positions.
Links are rated by weight from 1 to 10 and many factors may affect this. Nevertheless, the higher the link is, the higher the weight it will pass. Try to position the most important links above the fold (visible on screen without scrolling).
There are relative figures for the different elements on a web page, based on their position:
Logo & Header Link – top 10
Main Navigation – 9
Breadcrumbs – 7,5
Image Link Above the Fold – 7
Sidebar – 5
Content Links – 4 to 5
Footer Links – 2
The visibility of a link adds to its perceived value. A bold link in the content will carry more weight than a non-bolded link. But do not bold too much text and do not bold all links.
6) Keep your top navigation simple
Do not overload the navigation with too many links, because this will lower the weight of link importance of the whole navigation. Rather keep the navigation simpler, use content links and create section sub-menus within sidebars to provide access to all desired pages.
7) Do not create massive blocks of footer links
A common practice from several years ago was to include long lists of targeted keyword rich internal links near the footer, in many cases reaching 50 and more. This is very problematic for websites with hundreds of pages. This quickly multiplies into thousands of “spam” links that the search engines will penalise your site for. In 2013, many of these sites were hit with an algorithmic penalty for such practices.
Following the recommendations above is not overwhelming, complicated, or difficult and is absolutely worth it. You will soon experience a stronger link profile and better SEO results. And you will also gain more and happier website users.