Any SEO understands the importance of link building. It’s a crucial part of the optimisation process and, depending on your approach, it could make or break your campaign.
However, internal linking (linking between different pages within your own site) also determines the value of each of your pages from Google’s perspective. To set yourself up to achieve higher rankings for specific individual pages, you need to make sure that these pages are organised to appeal to the search engines. You can use internal linking to establish a strong site architecture that’s SEO friendly yet also allows the user to navigate through your site more accurately so they’re able to find exactly what they’re looking for. Plus, you’ll find that a well-managed site structure will improve the PageRank of your internal pages considerably, further boosting your eligibility for top search engine ranking positions!
There are three main factors you need to take into consideration when arranging your internal linking structure:
The Depth Of Each Page
Does it take the user 3 clicks or more from your homepage to find the page they are looking for? If so, this page will appear weaker and largely irrelevant to Google, and will therefore be much harder to rank.
For maximum results, go through your site thoroughly, make a note of your ‘top’ pages , ie pages that contain the most valuable information or are the most relevant in terms of SEO, and make them easily accessible via your homepage. You can then link to smaller, less relevant pages via your ‘top’ pages.
Imagine a pyramid structure, with your homepage as the pinnacle heading up the rest of your pages, all of which are arranged neatly into clear categories and sub-categories.
Iron out any navigation issues by making good use of breadcrumbs and revamping your site script if your current linking structure is preventing the search engine bots from reading your pages.
The Amount Of Internal Links
The more links that are pointing to a page on your site, the more authoritative it is in the eyes of the search engines. However, it’s best practice to ensure that each and every link is contributing to the even distribution of link ‘juice’ throughout the entire website. Don’t place a link to every internal page from your homepage, as doing so will dilute this link ‘juice’ and lessen its impact on your rankings.
There are a number of ways to structure your internal page links to increase the presence of pages that you want to rank well:
If you want your homepage to be the most authoritative page on your website, find ways to link all of your internal pages back to it. Because the homepage is typically the page that is linked to the most on any given website, the external link juice from this page is drip-fed down through the internal pages that are linking to it. Set up content blocks to drive your SEO and improve the experience for the user – you could add in a ‘Top Searches’ sidebar or a ‘Best Rated Products’ menu on each page, for example.
Include links from higher authority pages to those with less weight. In short, this technique evens out the flow of link juice.
Make good use of your site footer. Use this space to navigate to pages relevant to your SEO campaign.
Don’t add too many internal links. Too many links on a page will look untrustworthy to the search engines and unnatural to the human user, resulting in an SEO disaster.
The Quality Of Internal Links
Keep links relevant. It’s no use linking together two completely unrelated pages. Always link logically!
Use anchor text within your content to vary your internal link portfolio. The actual anchor text of the link should include your targeted search terms where possible but be sure to throw in a few brand references for good measure. Anchor text links are being held in higher regard by Google in wake of recent updates as the algorithms now tend to determine the relevancy of a site by analysing content rather than just identifying plain links.
Place your most important links nearer the top of the page. Though it’s often debated whether this technique holds any weight, we would still recommend placing valuable links higher up within your HTML code, as it’s thought that the search engine bots will take this link into higher consideration as opposed to those placed further down the page.