Long has the term backlinking been considered an activity that has had a profound significance as part of a website’s digital marketing and inbound SEO effort. It is a well-documented and publicised activity within the industry that can have both a positive and negative impact on your website’s authority and rankings. Nowadays though, backlinking is more about building genuine relationships between websites. These inbound links can occur as a result of an outreach program or from developing offline business relationships. Yet many webmasters and search engine strategists are forgetting the power and efficiency their own website has and the potential gained from internally linking unique and relevant content. Internal link building is now becoming an increasingly popular and safer long term web strategy for those actively marketing online.
“Internal Linking – the process of linking a page of a domain to another page on the same domain.”
What are the Benefits of Internal Link Building?
Helps define logical website navigation
Facilitates better user experience and further reading options
Can represent a website’s vertical hierarchy
Shows horizontal relationships between related pages
Distributes page authority across multiple pages
Internal Linking is More than Just About SEO
Of course, one major reason for internal linking is to define a path for search bots to crawl the site in a logical manner. Although in some instances, there are websites that produce a lot of content but the variances between similar pages are subtle. For example, “Luxury Hotels in Perth” vs. “5-Star Hotels in Perth”, where every 5-star hotel is a luxury hotel but not every luxury hotel is a 5-star hotel. In this instance, internal linking can help prevent two pages of your site competing with one another on a search engine, by showing the search bot the importance of one over the other.
However, internal linking is not just about increasing rankings on Google. It is also about defining a positive and practical user journey for your visitors and allowing them to navigate through your content. Ultimately you want your user to have a positive experience which causes them to stay on your website longer. With that in mind, you want them to find the information they want in the shortest time possible and with the least amount of effort. After all, your website’s success, however you measure it, starts with captivating your target audience in seconds, rather than minutes.
Don’t Get Caught in an Anchor-Link Trap
As many webmasters will know, the easiest method to increasing content is through a well-structured and thought-out blog. The best way to better your visitor experience though when they are on the blog, is by providing them the ability to read additional blog content without having to navigate back. This channelling method is achieved through anchor link text, which as many will know, is the simplest and easiest form of internal linking within your website’s editorial content.
The rules of internal linking though are the same as if you were creating backlinks to another website. Over time, the traditional method of exact keyword phrase anchor link text has become a negative practice. In the past it was more for the benefit of the website’s rankings through manipulating search engines. As a result, the likes of Google decided to penalise those that undertook this practice (and still do). Web visitors no longer want to see exact match keyword links. They are not intuitive nor do they provide any sort of insight as to where they will be directed to if they click on the link.
As an example, instead of previously writing “Buy a tool cabinet and start organising your tools”, an up to date webmaster will now write, “Buy a tool cabinet and start organising your tools. If you would like to see our range of cabinets Click Here”.
The second example is the best practice method. Here you have the ability to lead your visitor to a related article called “Start Organising Your Tools” (if it exists), whilst also being more natural in how you lead them onto a page containing your related product or service.
Sound Hierarchy and Web Structure to Work From
Ensuring your website has the structural foundations on which to build internal links is the first part to a successful link strategy. For example, say you have two articles of a similar nature within the same layer of the website’s hierarchy but one is more recent than the other. How do you prevent your users and Google acknowledging one article over the other if they are both relevant to your cause? To question if one article is more important over the other in this scenario, is similar to asking, what is more important when making a sandwich, the filler or the bread? Ultimately, related content within the same link depth should not be seen to compete with one another. They work as a whole and therefore are both equally important.
The solution comes back to how you originally structured your site before you created that content. The simple answer in some cases is to categorise or group products or articles according to relevance, and then internally link all content beneath to these category pages. Hopefully users and search engines will then define this as an authoritative page to the topic or keyword. For ecommerce businesses, it is on these category pages where cross linking to other categories can take place, each with their own grouping of relevant content.
7 Tips When Undertaking Internal Linking
By not having an internal link strategy, your website is missing out on the ability to boost its SEO efforts just that little bit more, whilst also simultaneously creating a more user friendly experience for your visitors. For some the idea of bettering their website on Google is solely based around the general concept of increasing content around their keywords. However as previously discussed in other Clue Design articles, there has to be sound strategy as SEO and search is evolving into a more ethical process.
We have seven simple tips if you are considering an internal link strategy:
Create quality content for the reader not the search engines.
Use appropriate and natural anchor link text.
Make use of categories to avoid competing page content.
All pages should be no more than three clicks away from the home page.
The deeper the internal link goes the better.
Show the relationship between relevant products and pages with internal links.
Don’t be spammy - 2 or 3 internal links within your blog post is enough.
Showing internal relationships between your website’s content is an effort that you should start implementing straight away. However, take the time to devise a strategy appropriate to your website and target audience. Don’t just think about internal linking for the benefit of your targeted keywords; think about the ways in which you can better your user’s experience.
If you have liked what you have read and wish to discuss devising an internal link strategy, talk to us now.