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Dec
17

How to Improve Your Rankings with Internal Linking

internal-linkingAn internal link is a link that points to another page on the same website. Internal links help users find their way around, improve a website’s crawlability, and establish its information architecture. But internal linking goes beyond linking to different pages of your website in your site map or main navigation menu – internal links can also be embedded into your website content.

Internal linking is one of the most overlooked SEO methods in existence. When used properly, internal linking enables you to maximize your website’s resources and boost your search engine traffic and rankings. In fact, it’s often possible to get as much link juice from an internal link placed on a high-value page of your site as from an external link.

An internal link signals to search engines that the page being linked to has value. For example, if a particular page is linked to in your main navigation menu and on every page of your site, search engines will assume that the page is important. On the contrary, if you only link to a web page on one page of your site, you’re sending a signal to search engines that the page isn’t that important. A well-thought-out internal linking strategy encourages the healthy flow of link juice throughout your site and lifts deeper pages of your site out of oblivion.

Spreading Link Juice to New Pages

Anytime you create a page of your site, make sure that you’re driving as much traffic to it as possible. Part of that traffic-driving strategy includes internal linking, which contributes value to new pages. Ranking for your target keywords becomes easier when you use internal linking because you’re essentially sharing the authority of your website’s most authoritative pages with new pages.

Anchor Text Considerations

If you’re linking to a page about the MacBook Pro, anchor text with keywords like “Apple laptops” or “Macbook Pro 2012” will be more valuable than generic anchor text like “Click here”. However, don’t abuse keyword anchor text. If all of the links pointing to your website have the exact same anchor text, it will be considered link spamming. Overusing keyword anchor text is especially risky in the Post-Penguin world.

It’s ideal to mix up your anchor text so that spam filters don’t flag your site. As a rule of thumb, no more than 20-30% of your anchor text should target specific keywords. You should also vary the length of your anchor text and use semantically related phrases to rank for a broader set of keywords. It may take longer for you to rank for a particular keyword if you use modifiers and descriptive words in your inbound link text, but you’ll rank for a larger number of queries in less time if you take this route. However, don’t try to fit several keyword variations into a single link. For example, your anchor text shouldn’t look like this:

Ugg boots, ugg boots outlet, ugg boots cheap, ugg boots sale, ugg boots for kids

The above anchor text isn’t natural looking because real people don’t link in this way. Use short anchor text rather than try to fit all of your keywords into the anchor text of a single link.

Linking in Themes

If you have a large website with lots of content, be sure to link in themes. For example, if you write an article about SEO, link to other articles you’ve written about SEO within that article. The idea is to create clusters of topics and ensure that articles within those topic areas reference each other.

If you write about certain topics on a regular basis, create landing pages on your website that are related to each of those topics. All of the content about a specific topic should link to its corresponding landing page. Optimize the landing pages with clear calls to action. The internal links will drive traffic to those landing pages and thus help you generate more leads and conversions.

Blog posts, articles, tools, news, and other popular areas of your site probably receive a lot more traffic and links than sales-centric pages of your site, such as your product or service pages. In order to distribute the link love, link to sales-centric pages and other pages with minimal links on your strongest internal pages. For example, if you create a piece of linkbait, such as a popular infographic, link from that page back to your “money” pages so that they also benefit the incoming link juice and traffic.

5 Tips for Improving Your Website’s Internal Linking Structure

Want to improve your website’s internal linking structure? Here are a few tips that will help you get started.

  1. Sketch out a site map that includes all of the pages in your main navigation menu and list the internal links on each of those pages. By laying out your site visually, it’ll be easier for you to tell how different pages of your site are linked together.
  2. Link to deeper pages of content on pages that are higher in your website’s information hierarchy. If a page is particularly important and deserves promotion, you may want to consider linking to it from your home page, which has the most link juice.
  3. Although breadcrumbs are primarily used for navigation, they are also great for internal linking because they allow you to spread link juice from one page to another.
  4. Find older pieces of content on your blog with a lot of link authority and link to your “money pages” from those posts.
  5. Record all of your internal linking activity, so you have the ability to go back and revise your anchor text when necessary. Keeping track of your efforts will enable you to determine which pages have enough internal links pointing to them and which pages need some link juice.

Some information you may want to take note of include which pages have internal links, how many internal links each page has, what anchor text the links have, and the number of times each variation of anchor text has been used. If you really want to get specific, keep track of the dates you added the internal links and the search engine rankings of each page on the dates the links were added. Doing so will enable you to gauge the effectiveness of your internal linking efforts.

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