Everyone knows link building is absolutely necessary to improve the search engine optimization of your site. Most SEO professionals will tell you that the most valuable links you can have are external, meaning a link to one of your pages from another website. While this is true, their is also value in making sure you have effective linking between the pages within your site. This makes the site more user-friendly and easier to index for the search engines. It also allows your most important pages to receive the highest ranking for the keywords you select. That is a win-win for everybody. To get you started, or keep you going, I would like to offer you these 5 keys to effective internal linking on your site.
Choose The Right Structure
When putting together your internal links, it is important that you choose the right structure. There are two different structure types, hierarchical and meshed.
Hierarchical is the structure most websites you encounter are trying to use. In this structure, the pages on the site that are deemed the most important are linked to more often than other pages on the site. Usually this will be the home page, and your most important product, service, or content pages. The idea is to link back to these pages from as many other relevant pages as possible. In fact, the home page is usually linked to from every other page on the site.
When a meshed structure is utilized, all of the pages on the site are given equal value. Every page is linked to from every other page. Most websites use this structure by default and don’t even realize it. This happens when they use the navigation bar on their pages with links to other pages that really aren’t that important. A more ideal method is to carefully select the pages that need to be linked back to from each page on the website.
Only Link Relevant Pages Together
By relevant, I mean that they are targeting the same, or similar keywords. This will ensure your customers can quickly find only the information they need, and distributes the page rank between pages that are related by keyword phrase. Also make sure that every page links to at least one other page.
Pay Attention When Naming Your Links
You want to use text-based links whenever possible. You also want to use the absolute URL when inserting a link to your homepage or top-level pages. Make sure as well that you use keywords in the link text for every link you insert.
Link From Your Site Map to Every Other Page
Since the site map acts as a sort of index for you entire site, make sure you have a link to all of your other pages on the website. If your customer is looking for something quickly, this is one of the first pages they will visit. Also, it is one more way to help the search engines index all of the pages on your site more quickly.
Utilize “Bread Crumb” Link Navigation
Just like Hansel and Gretel, you can help your visitors find their way back to “home” or some other relevant page by using a series of secondary links known as bread crumbs. Here is an example: sports memorabilia/MLB /St. Louis Cardinals/T-shirts. If your user is looking at T-shirts, they can easily make their way back to other Cardinals stuff, other baseball teams, or other sports items. Again, anything that helps users and crawlers maneuver through your website with more speed and ease, is something valuable for you.
Clearly there is more to internal linking than meets the eye. So the next time you are building, or re-building your website, remember these keys and you will build a site that users love to visit, and the search engines rank among the best.