Internal Link Building 101: Developing An Internal Link Strategy
by Guest Post
The English novelist Jane Howard once said: “New links must be forged as old ones rust.”
But what about internal links?
As a content marketer, you need to understand the importance of internal linking. In fact, internal links are JUST as important as third-party links when it comes to SEO.
WHY ARE INTERNAL LINKS SO IMPORTANT?
Inbound links are GREAT for link juice. They can…
- Help to improve usability, making it easier for your visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for.
- Help search engines find your content.
- Place “deep pages” in a better position within the structure of your website.
- And most importantly: distribute the link juice through your pages.
It’s easy to structure internal links on your pages. You can increase your ranking power by directly targeting your landing pages.
Here’s how to outrank your competitors using your internal links:
TOTO, WE’RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE …
There’s no place like home.
In fact, your home page will mostly likely be the most linked to page on your site, so using internal links can make your website appear much more authoritative – as long as you link to keyword-rich content.
- If you don’t want to litter your home page with internal links, disguise them within a sidebar content block using the title “Top Searches” or “Most Popular”.
This won’t be as effective as placing the links in a more prominent position, but posting them on the side can still work if you don’t want to compromise the overall layout of your home page.
Having the link juice flow from the homepage to your categories or tag clusters will distribute the link juice evenly between your posts.
- Not sure WHAT to link to? Use Open Site Explorer and find the most linked-to pages on your site and post internal links on your home page. You’ll need to forward traffic to the most authoritative pages on your site.
GO FORTH AND MULTIPLY…
Improve your ranking power by developing an internal link strategy. There are plenty of places you can place internal links on your pages, so be creative:
- Add a list of related links at the bottom of your pages or within a sidebar. Sites like BuzzFeed do this really well, where visitors often spend much longer on the site than they would have and get caught up in the “sidebar of doom” – a seemingly endless loop of links that are relevant to their demographic.
- “Terms and conditions”, “Contact us” and “Privacy and data policy” are all great places to include internal links. They are high up in the “information architecture” of your site, and usually won’t be competing with other internal or external links on the same page.
- Don’t be afraid to include internal links in the footer of your pages. Although these are considered a big no-no for external links (as search engines deem them to be of little importance), they still could have good link value when trying to direct visitors to your internal pages.
“RELEVANCE IS A SEARCH ENGINE’S HOLY GRAIL”
– MARC OSTROFSKY
Link three or four RELEVANT keywords or phrases in an average-sized piece of content.
- Choose your keywords wisely, and make sure they forward your users to high-quality landing pages.
- Try and spread the keyword links throughout the content, making it easier to catch the eye and navigate through the article.
- Three or four relevant keywords or phrases are just enough to give your visitors a place to go next without making the page look spammy.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Before you start linking, there’s a few things you need to consider:
- Never use internal links that are embedded inside Java, Flash or other plug-ins. Search engines won’t be able to find them.
- Don’t hide links that can only be accessed by visitors using your internal search box, as search engines won’t even bother trying to find them.
- Same goes with links in submission-required web forms and surveys, as well as pages that require a LogIn – these are completely invisible to search engines, so steer well clear.
- Don’t waste your time posting hundreds of links on your landing page. When search engines spider your pages, they will only crawl for 150 links per page before stopping.
According to Moz, some important pages may have 200 or 250 links crawled, but as a general rule, it’s not worth the risk, so scale back on the number of links.
Internal links are good for conversions and SEO. They’re also helpful when it comes to usability and navigation. This one-two punch of pleasing the search engines AND your customers makes internal linking an extremely valuable addition to your website.
However, you’ll need to strike the right balance between using internal links for search engine crawlers without littering your pages with hundreds of links.
About The Author
Rob Walling runs popular long tail keyword tool HitTail and he wrote the book on small software startups. In his spare time, he co-hosts one of the leading podcasts for bootstrapped startups, called Startups for the Rest of Us. Follow him on Twitter @robwalling
March 22, 2017
March 2, 2017