The Lowdown on Linking: Making the Most of Internal Links
While earning their Ph.D.’s from the University of Stanford in 1996, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed an algorithm that would change the World Wide Web forever. At the time, most search engines ranked results solely by counting how many times the search terms appeared on the webpage. Page and Brin’s new algorithm, dubbed ‘PageRank,’ expanded upon this process—it determined a website’s relevance by the number of incoming links from other pages, taking into account the quality of those sites. In other words, links were treated like votes, and pages with a lot of quality votes ranked higher.
Although Google’s algorithms are far more complicated today, links still matter. They might not matter quite as much as they did ten years ago, but they’re still an essential component of any SEO strategy. In fact, a 2015 survey by Moz revealed that many leading search marketers believe that linking is the most important factor in achieving high rankings. Therefore, it’s imperative that webmasters and SEO gurus everywhere pay attention to a site’s links, both external and internal. For now, let’s just focus on the latter.
What are internal links?
Internal links are links that go from one page on a given domain to another page on that same domain. These types of links have three main purposes:
To aid in website navigation and accessibility
To establish the website’s structure and hierarchy
To spread page authority and ranking power, or ‘link juice,’ throughout the site.
Although not as significant to improving rankings as external links, internal links shouldn’t be overlooked. Below are three easy ways to make the most of your site’s internal linking opportunities.
Content, content, content
Internal links and content go hand in hand, and you can’t have one without the other. Therefore, it’s crucial to create a lot of content in order to up your internal linking strategy. Enter content marketing. A great content marketing strategy entails creating and circulating relevant, valuable, and consistent content that entices your target audience. The more linkable content you create, the better internal linking strategy you’ll have.
Use meaningful anchor text
As a general rule of thumb, your internal links should use anchor text rather than linked images. Moreover, use succinct and relevant anchor text that will be helpful to your visitors. Avoid overusing identical text and stay away from phrases like “Click here.” It looks spammy and doesn’t provide any information about the linked page. On the other hand, clear and relevant anchor text can improve user experience and engagement. Furthermore, the words contained in the linking text are important ranking factors in the eyes of the search engine. But be careful! Stuffing anchor text with keywords can result in Google penalties (see bullet points 3 and 7).
Don’t overdo it
Last but not least, use moderation. It’s widely known that anchor text overuse is one of the biggest spam signals that triggers Google’s Penguin filter. Avoid getting penalized by switching up the anchor text you use, and be sure not to overstuff each page with countless internal links. In their Webmaster Guidelines, Google advises webmasters to “Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number.” It’s not the most specific guidance (typical Google!), but you get the point.
Use the above pointers to enhance your linking strategy and make the most of your internal links. While on the subject of links, be sure to also check out Max’s step-by-step guide on how to clean up your site’s faulty backlinks. It’s only a matter of time until you become a linking legend!
Do you have other internal linking strategies? Do you adore alliterative titles? Tweet us @Perfect_Search or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!