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5 Ways to Improve Your Internal Linking to Better Your SEO
by Gina Hutchings Fri, 01/27/2017 - 13:47
Part of any good SEO strategy should always include internal linking. What is internal linking? Unlike external linking, which involves other websites linking to your content within their own content or content, in the form of articles or infographics for example, that you have provided them, internal linking is where you link to your own pages from within your website.
This creates bonds between pages and allows search engines to make their way through your content and make sense of what pages you consider important. This can help improve rankings and visibility in search engines, particularly of the deeper, less popular pages on your website by linking to them from your best content.
A lot of businesses forget to properly consider their internal linking strategy and simply settle for linking back to their ‘homepage’ or ‘contact us’ page, which leaves their best and most insightful content in the dark, this sends a strong signal to search engines that the most important content the website are these pages, even though they may not be your highest converting ones.
Here are five ways to improve your internal linking to increase conversions and better your SEO:
You may look in your Google Analytics account and see that your ‘homepage’ is the most visited page on your website and therefore all your internal links should just point there, mistaking high traffic levels for conversion rates.
It is likely that a majority of your inbound links already point to the ‘homepage’; this is usually the default page to link to when crediting content to a source, linking in an author bio of an article or attributing a quote to a person in the company. This means that internal links should be used to solely strengthen other, more specific pages on your website, rather than just the ‘homepage’.
The best kind of internal links are those that are natural and are not to top level pages, those found in your main navigation. Internal linking is particularly effective in blog posts. Linking from a new blog post to an older one will help strengthen the signal of your blog as a whole and, as a result, will help your website rank for the keywords linked to and contained in both pieces of posts.
For example, in a recent Receptional blog post titled ‘7 Must-Know Google Ranking Factors in 2017’ one section discusses Local SEO. Instead of linking this page to the top level SEO landing page on the Receptional website, the post links the words ‘Local results’ to another blog post specifically about Local SEO, ‘The Key to Succeeding with your Local SEO’. This content is specifially relevant to this section in the post, allowing the reader to broaden their knowledge on the topic of Local SEO by clicking through. This link will also help strengthen the website for the terms associated as a result.
Keep it Natural and Relevant
Internal linking is important, but only when done correctly. Inserting random links into pages and blog posts for the sake of it is more likely to have a negative impact on your rankings, while worsening your user experience and potentially getting you in trouble for keyword cramming, a process of putting numerous keywords into one piece of content regardless of whether they make sense to the text they are situated in.
Internal links are only affective when they are natural and relevant. You should consider each link from the user’s point of view. Does the page being linked to add any value or additional information to the content it is situated in? If your answer is no, then that is an indication that the link wouldn’t seem natural and shouldn’t be included.
The main benefit of linking internally is to improve the user experience, and as a result increase engagement levels. A user that is reading a post and is genuinely interested in finding out more is likely to click on the relevant links within the text. This moves them around your website, engaging them and is more likely to see them convert.
Also, take time to think about the context of the pages. If you are a fashion blogger writing about black dresses with spaghetti straps, and link the word ‘spaghetti’ to a page with a spaghetti recipe on it, then this is not a great example of internal crosslinking and will not benefit the user’s experience or the SEO of the website.
‘Dofollow’ links receive a lot of bad press, particularly from the blogging community. When it comes to internal linking, however, ‘dofollow’ links are the way to go.
A ‘nofollow’ link (rel="nofollow") stops the link value in its tracks and is basically a notice for search engines to not count the link, meaning that no link equity would be passed from popular pages to the pages you link to internally.
As you want to send a strong signal to search engines the value of the links needs to flow between the pages and not be stopped, therefore you should only consider using followed links in internal linking strategies, plus it is unlikely that search engines are going to think you are buying ‘link juice’ from your own site so will not penalise you for using this type of link internally.
You can never have too much content
Content has been named as one of Google’s top three ranking factors, along with links. This shows the importance of content for a website’s SEO and therefore means it should be a focus of businesses with an online presence.
Having a lot of content on your website will also give the opportunity to add a lot of internal links. It is a good idea, if you are trying to add internal linking to existing content, to come up with a strategy. Take the main ‘themes’ of your website, for example if you were a graphic design agency you may have landing pages for print design, logo design, design for web etc. These would make up the headings in your plan. You can then plot relevant content that already exists on your website under each heading and work out which posts/ pages you will link together. Creating an internal linking map.
Having plenty of content will mean that not only is there a lot of linkable content on your website for internal purposes but also for external websites to link to, a win/win for your SEO strategy.
Use a variety of anchor text
The majority of anchor text used for internal links is often non-specific calls to action such as ‘click here’ and ‘contact us’. Your anchor text should instead be descriptive and include a keyword, if possible. This helps search engines decide whether the link is relevant to the page and will also improve the user’s experience of the content.
This does not mean pick one keyword and use it for all links in that topic. Conduct some keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner. Simply enter your top keywords and look for long tail keywords and variations to diversify the anchor text being used. It is important not to optimise these too much, they need to look natural. The best internal links come from existing text that can be hyperlinked, as opposed over thinking the body of text in order to squeeze in a keyword that can be linked.
Descriptive anchor text for internal linking will also allow the user to know what they are clicking through to, which is likely to increase the click-through rates.