Part 5: Internal Linking Strategies for SEO

Travis Van SlootenSmall Business SEO

Welcome to part five of our SEO series! Content optimization was the topic in part 4 of this series. Today we will delve into the importance of internal linking strategies for SEO. The structure of your website’s internal links plays an important role in ranking highly on Google and other search engines.

Placing Internal Links Within Your Content

External links pointing to your web pages are not the only links that count! While important, internal links, which are easy to place within your content, help boost your ranking as well. Not only are they easy to place, but you have absolute control over internal links!

Internal links can do the following:

  1. Internal links help your pages get crawled by search engine spiders.
  2. Internal links build relationships between individual pages and important keyword phrases.
  3. Internal links can increase the search engine rank of an individual internal page.

How are internal links able to pull this all off? Let’s go more in-depth with each point outlined above.

Have Every Page on Your Site Found by Spiders

It’s easy and it’s effective. Making sure that each of your website’s pages is found by the search engines quickly boosts your ranking. How? First, it credits your site with a greater number of pages. Second, it increases the number of phrases your site could potentially rank for. It’s possible that once a search engine finds all of your pages, you could rank on the first page and receive traffic from phrases you didn’t even target as your primary keywords!

How to Build a Relationship Between a Page and a Keyword Phrase

It’s important to decide, 1.) what the key phrases of your content should be and, 2.) which pages should rank for which particular key phrases. Usually the home page should utilize your most competitive key phrase, while the internal pages utilize the lesser phrases.

In order to make a keyword phrase relevant to a particular page, use that phrase in the anchor text of the links within that page. For instance, let’s pretend you have a dental practice in Minneapolis. Instead of using the anchor text “home” to link visitors to your homepage, try “Minneapolis Dentist,” instead.

Use this procedure for your internal pages as well. Instead of using a link that says, “click here,” use the primary keyword of the page you are linking to. If the page you are linking to is about cosmetic dentistry, then use that phrase for the anchor text.

How to Increase the Rank of Internal Pages

First, let’s determine how internal pages are ranked within a site. The closer an internal page is to the home page, the higher the PageRank (a Google term, though the rules are generally the same for other search engines as well). A page that has been directly linked to from the home page has a higher PageRank than a page buried within your site.

Based on this information, it is not a good idea to link all of your pages from your home page. This lessens the weight of each internal page and hurts the aesthetics of your site. Instead, figure out what your keyword phrases are, which internal pages you will use to rank them on, and insert these phrase via text links from your home page. Remember to target these keyword phrases on solid internal pages- you want your visitors to see the more important pages, i.e. your products page, over lesser pages, i.e. the terms and conditions page.

If the dentist’s website referred above in our example has a PageRank 4 for the home page, the pages linked from its home page will generally have a higher PageRank than if that page was linked to from a PageRank 2 internal page.

Improving Your Internal Linking Structure

There are three key methods to use when improving your internal linking structure:

  1. Text link navigation
  2. Using footers
  3. Through inline text links

Websites generally come with a form of navigation on the left hand side. This location makes the navigation one of the first things read by a spider; therefore, the navigation needs to be carefully optimized so that it boosts rank.

If you are using text link navigation, make sure and include your targeted keywords in the links. Do not, however, stuff your links with keywords! It looks terrible, and your site could be penalized.

Using Footers Properly

When used properly, footers are useful for getting spiders to efficiently crawl through your site. Unfortunately, they are often misused and therefore are treated as spam. Some footers are longer than the content in the internal page! Not only that, but they link to every internal page within the site! This not only looks bad, but it reduces the worth of each link.

What’s the proper way to use footers? Keep them clean, utilize anchor text, and link only to the key internal pages of your website. You should also include a link to your sitemap in your footer. The sitemap is the location where you can link to every page on your site! (For the record, proper utilization of keyword phrases in anchor text on the sitemap is important, too.) A small description of each page is also acceptable on a sitemap, allowing you extra content thereby solidifying the relevancy of the sitemap to the page(s) you are linking to.

Links To The 10-Part SEO Series on How To Rank on Google

Part 1: SEO Success Starts With Keyword Research
Part 2: Why Producing Quality Content for SEO Is Important
Part 3: Structuring Your Website For SEO
Part 4: Content Optimization for SEO
Part 5: Internal Linking Strategies for SEO
Part 6: Human Testing for SEO Success
Part 7: Search Engines Submissions for SEO
Part 8: Link Building for SEO
Part 9: Monitoring Your SEO Efforts
Part 10: Extra Tools & Resources for SEO Success