Internal Linking 101

Internal Linking 101 | SEO Strategy for OptimizationInternal links refer to hyperlinks that navigate users to different pages across the same domain. Internal linking allows for user navigation across a website, establishes an information hierarchy for webmasters, and helps build link authority.

Internal link building is especially important in any SEO campaign because it factors greatly into page ranking. When search engines crawl different websites they will also send spiders through the internal and external pathways of the links present in the domain. For search engines, quality links establish trust for a domain as well as individual page importance and allows for indices of individual pages across the domain.

The critical error most websites make is that they don’t create a well-established internal linking structure. Across the web, millions of webpages are hidden across domains that don’t create links to these individual webpages. An internal linking strategy should resemble a pyramid where the homepage rests on the top of the pyramid followed by subcategories and individual pages present in the subcategories.

Internal linking strategy calls for the minimum amount of links possible between a webpage and the homepage therefore allowing link authority to flow throughout the entire site, increasing the potential for individual webpages to rank.

Common Internal Linking Errors

Often, websites fall to the naiveté that search engines will crawl different webpages found in a searchable link. Search engines will not conduct search bar searches nor fill out forms, which means that accessible links found in submission forms or through search bars won’t be crawled. Wikipedia, while utilizing its own search bar engine also creates millions of internal links to every single one of its webpages, which is why individual Wikipedia pages still rank.

Links using Flash, CSS, or other plug-ins will not be crawled. It’s also recommended that JavaScript links or links in combination with Frames or I-Frames should be avoided as they could present structural problems for search engines and may be devalued as links.

Finally, spiders only a have a 150 links/page limit and links totaling over that amount on a certain page will not be indexed. By avoiding these malpractices and using hyperlinks with an HTML format, you will ensure that your website has the most potential for creating link juice throughout your domain.

Optimized Hyperlinks

The optimal hyperlink should resemble this: <a href=”http://www.domain.com”>Anchor Text</a>

The link tag <a is the start of the hyperlink and represents clickable portions of images, text, etc. present on the webpage. The next portion of the link href=”http://ww.domain.com”> is the link referral location and tells search engines which webpage the link refers to. The next portion on the hyperlink is the anchor text.

In terms of SEO, anchor text is very important because it utilizes keyword specific terms that are relevant to the ad-copy the link is referring to. Anchor text often includes a long-tail keyword phrase and may be the title of the article or content the link is referring to or an industry related term.

The final portion of the hyperlink is the closure tag and communicates with search engines that certain elements of the webpage are not clickable. When displayed as an internal link, only the anchor text will be present and will represent the clickable text that will navigate users to the hyperlinks referral location. Optimized anchor text should not distract from the content on the page it is linking from and should be enticing, but relevant enough so that users do not bounce from clicking through to a hyperlink.

Spreading Link Authority: What Should I Link to?

The common rule of thumb is that every webpage should be no more than 3 clicks away from the homepage. While it’s obvious that links should be relevant, they should not be manipulated in a way that hampers user experience. The most important pages to link to, other than the homepage, should be landing pages that show up in organic results. Not only will this build link juice for your domain and that webpage, but it will most likely result in more conversions.

Navigation bar links should point to subcategory pages that present links to individual webpages. Structuring your website this way will ensure that your content and blogs are being linked to. Of course a website needs relevant content to link to, but setting up a website structure that links individual in content pages to subcategories that can be found in a drop down menu or sidebar will ensure both an easy navigation structure for users and search engines.

Within individual content pages it’s key to insert hyperlinks present in the text that link to other relevant content pages. The header of an article should link back to a subcategory and footers are a good way to insert links to other relevant content pages within the same subcategory. Mainly, place links back to landing pages or homepages at the top of the webpage. This could be done through a clickable brand logo or even a clickable link within the domain title itself. This will ensure that individual content pages are within a click of a subcategory page or the homepage itself.

The idea of internal link building to build link juice is the create the most minimal pathway possible for relevant webpages that you seek engines to crawl to return back to webpages that you view as important.