Internal Linking for Better Rankings and SEO
Before your content can rank, Google has to be able to find it. That’s where linking comes into play. The beauty of using internal links is that not only does it connect your website’s content, but it also gives Google structural information about it.
While your readers use your internal links to navigate from one page to another, Google uses this information to create a ranking pyramid. This allows you to strategize which pages should have more link value than others.
Information systems play a crucial role in the day-to-day operations of your business or organization. A clear information infrastructure promotes reliability, continuity, and room to grow.
When it comes to optimizing your content for higher rankings and SEO, a clear and well-defined information infrastructure is key to acquiring better search visibility.
Inner page linking structure
While internal linking aids the user to navigate through your site and find the information they are looking for, search engines like Google use them to find your site.
Google uses a web crawler called Google bot to follow links. When it follows links to your website and lands on your homepage, it sends out spiders to explore every link on that page. It then ranks the content. The more links on a page, the higher Google bot will rank the content on that page.
Typically, your homepage will be given the highest ranking, because it usually has the most backlinks. The link value of your homepage is shared by all the links found on that page, and the link value found on the following pages will be divided the same way.
By following a pyramid internal linking structure, you ensure that your homepage remains on top.
How the pyramid structure works
The pyramid structure uses a limited number of links from the homepage to ensure an equal amount of ranking power to each page throughout your entire website. The best way to do this is to supplement your internal link with a URL structure.
For example, if your website sells women’s clothing, your internal link would look something like this:
http://susiesapparel.com/winter wear… with “scarves” as the anchor text.
The internal link format would be:
<a href=”http://www.susiesapparel.com”>Susie’s Winter Scarves</a>
Let’s break it down:
- The beginning of the link tag – <a
- Referral Link Location – “http://www.susiesapparel.com”
- Visible Anchor Text – Susie’s Winter Scarves
- Link Tag Closure – </a>
While the referral link location directs the browser, it is also recognized by search engines. Search engine spiders then add it to that search engine’s link graph of the web. They also use it to quantify link popularity (think MozRank) and index your page’s content.
Creating your internal link strategy
It is vital to your SEO to ensure that Google understands how your pages are applicable, the connection between your pages, and the value of your pages.
- Start with the Pyramid – Your homepage is at the top, with categories or sections directly underneath. Below that are subcategories followed by individual posts or pages. Using the above example, Susie’s Apparel would be at the top of the pyramid, followed by Winter Wear, Accessories, and Scarves.
- Choose your Cornerstone – Your cornerstone is your most important content. It is what you want people to see first when they are searching the web for a particular product or service. Linking is key here so that Google recognizes how important this particular content is.
- Use Contextual Links – A contextual link is placed in the body of your content and is in context with what you are describing. Say you are the owner of Susie’s Apparel and you are describing the material used to make your angora scarves. You could link the word “angora” internally to a post describing your own sustainable angora farm or to an outside source that documents how the process is cruelty-free.
- Link “Parent and Child” Pages – Known as hierarchical pages, they give your site a clear structure that simplifies navigation for both site visitors and the search engines. A “parent page” for Susie’s Apparel could be “Winter Wear” that links to the “child page”, “Accessories”. It would look like this: http://Susie’s Apparel/Winter Wear/Accessories.
- Create an HTML Sitemap – An HTML sitemap breaks down the site navigation into an easy-to-read bulleted text that visitors to your site can use. Use anchor text in your sitemap, so that readers can click on it to reach the page it references. This is extremely helpful to people who have difficulty finding what they are looking for by searching or using site menus. Your sitemap can also be submitted to search engines when created in XML format. Any URL’s that are not found during normal search engine crawling will be identified when you create a sitemap.
Remember, without links, your website’s content will not rank, making it very difficult to find.