In SEO, when people talk about linking they almost always focus exclusively on external linking. They might talk about new link sources, changes in the Google PageRank algorithm, what factors are making more of an impact and so on. Yet few people will talk about the other half of the linking formula – Your internal linking structure.
Your internal linking structure is crucial to your search engine success. Without it, it’s very difficult to get ranked. Internal linking alone won’t get you ranked, but if you don’t have strong internal linking, your chances of getting ranked are very slim.
The best thing about internal linking is that it’s relatively easy. Unlike external linking that needs tons and tons of effort, mastering internal linking really requires understanding just a few core principles. Here’s what you need to know.
Use Keyword Relevant Anchor Texts
When you link to other pieces of content on your website, make sure you use a keyword relevant anchor text. Google will use this anchor text to determine what the page being linked to is about.
If all the links on your site to a particular page contain the word “fish, “ chances are Google is going to think there’s something on that page about “fish.”
Link Consistently Throughout Your Site
You should have a navigation map throughout your site that makes sense for both users and search engines.
Have a navigation bar along the top of your site or on the side of your site (or both.) Make sure all the links in your navigation bar are in text. People should be able to easily find their way around your site, no matter where they are on your site.
Use a breadcrumb trail navigation to allow people to find their way back to higher level categories and to your home page. A breadcrumb trail looks like this:
Home > Category 1 > Subcategory 4 > Page
People can click on any of the previous categories or pages to be taken back to a higher level.
These kinds of breadcrumb trails make browsing your site easier. Google also loves them. They also help you naturally “silo” your site into different subtopics.
If you want all the pages on your website to be indexed, then it’s a very good idea to take the time to create a sitemap. A sitemap is exactly what it sounds like it is: A map of your site, with all the different pages on your site listed in one easy place for a search engine to see. This sitemap will prevent Google from having to spend a lot of time crawling your site.
Generating a sitemap is easy. If you’re using a WordPress site, there are over a dozen different plugins you can choose from to generate a sitemap. If you’re not using WordPress, you can go online and find a number of different free tools that all help do the same thing.
In Content Linking
Link to other pages on your site from within your site’s content. Whenever you’re creating new text content, look for other pages on your site that you can link to.
For example, let’s say you’re writing an article about the mortgage crisis. As you’re writing, you talk about the causes of the crisis, the effect’s it’s having on homeowners, how it’s affecting the financial sector and how things look moving forward.
Instead of just touching upon each of these topics, make it a point to link to more in depth material on the rest of your site on each of these subtopics. Your readers will thank you for it and Google will love you for it.
Keep these tips in mind as you build your website and your internal linking. Your internal linking is an indispensible part of your overall SEO linking strategy.