Internal links are and probably will always be one of the most important components when it comes to your website’s ranking in Google. There are several reasons why internal links are so important and will probably stay that way, even as search engine formulas continue to evolve and technology keeps pushing forwards. Online marketing is a crucial part of any business in today’s world, where a large portion of visibility comes from search engine rankings and content. In order to connect with the clients and customers you hope to serve, they have to find you first- and online marketing is the way to stand out from the crowd. Read on to learn more about why internal links are so important for your online marketing strategy, and how you can best leverage these links. MyCity Social is a top Orlando SEO company who believes all businesses, no matter what the size, should be able to take advantage of digital marketing strategies. Call MyCity Social in Miami for a consultation today!
Why Internal Links Will Remain Essential
Firstly, let’s define what we’re talking about when we refer to “internal links.” Internal links refer to any element on your website that loads another page of your website when it is clicked on. The most important internal links are typically those that are in your website header/navigation menu. This not only makes sense from a web design perspective (who would link to useless pages in their navigation menu?) it is more importantly something that Google is clearly aware of. After all, it’s no coincidence that Search Console has a report that is specifically dedicated to internal links. The internet is an enormous entity that is expanding rapidly every single day. The service that Google provides is a simplified way to navigate this seemingly infinite space through offering pages that are relevant to user searches. Before search engines like Google, the best way to navigate the web was to use directory services that categorized websites by content type (think Yellow Pages). A couple of these directories have stuck around and still are out there, but they are simply too large in size to be useful. Your website itself functions as a directory, and internal link optimization is one of the most important ways to serve your visitors the information they require. In order to do this, you have to think about the information hierarchy.
Hierarchy Of Links In Online Marketing
The hierarchy of a website is crucial due to the fact that it allows a user understand where they are on your site. The majority of websites are not single-page sites, which means that they require some sort of directory-like structure for their content. Information is best understood when categorized into groups of similar pages. If your website does not have a logical grouping of content, then Google’s site crawlers may not be able to properly discover and index all your web pages. Moreover, users will likely struggle to navigate your site and quickly go somewhere else.
There are two main hierarchical content grouping formations that websites typically fall under, which are flat and deep hierarchies:
- Flat hierarchy- a website that has a larger number of categories than sub-categories. This type of website is said to be “wider than it is tall,” in terms fo graphical link structure.
- Deep website hierarchy- A website that is organized into several sub-levels of information. Content is typically more discoverable when it is not buried under multiple hierarchical layers. Deep hierarchy website structures are considered more difficult to navigate, which is probably due to the fact that the human brain stores information and processes location.
Both types of websites are able to utilize a home page, which functions as a high-level information hub. In a flat hierarchy, a larger portion of the website’s content is understood when looking at links from the home page. This is not solely due to the fact that there are more links from the home page, but also due to the fact that these links do not lead to multiple sub-levels of information. You can compare this to a deep hierarchy structure where the index page links to high-level categories of information that then link to more high-level categories of information.
The internal links and anchor text in your website are key to search engine optimization, or SEO. This is especially true when a website is newly developed, since these links will be the only links to your website’s pages and are key to Google’s understanding of your website content. Within the Google Search Console, there is also a tool that analyzes your internal links in order to display which of your pages you link to the most. Most of the time, every page of a website will have the same header menu, top menu, and sidebar if there is one. This means that the number of links to each page of a website usually comes out basically even. The hypertext that links from each menu to a category page needs to be descriptive of that category. Google utilizes this hypertext as an indication of the type of information that is contained in the linked page (of course, this isn’t the only method they utilize to determine page content, but it is a factor).
Spamming a lot of internal links is not exactly the answer either. It’s important to only link pages when it seems natural to you. At this stage, you should perform historical SEO by going through old pages and blog posts and looking for internal link opportunities. It is also important to attempt to diversify the hyperlink text that leads to each page. When it comes to link spam, in technical terms, Google is advanced enough to cross-check page relevancy through comparing the semantic distance between linked entities within the semantic web. Basically, don’t spam links.
Keep in mind that Google ranks web PAGES, not web sites. While it is important to keep in mind that domain rank is a somewhat dated metric, the core concepts of domain rank are still in use and extremely relevant today. This is pretty easy to prove. In our years of experience here at top Orlando SEO company MyCity Social, we haven’t yet seen a website that is able to rank highly for a highly trafficked query and isn’t ranking highly for any other inquiries. Domain authority clearly has some effect here.
Even though PageRank is usually not able to explain fully a website’s keyword rankings, it functions as a very good indication of where a website has the potential to rank. Since the original PageRank algorithm was largely released to the public by Google, it is possible to figure out a numerical approximation for the potential of every domain and page to appear in search results. The page rank toolbar produced by Moz.com is one of the most popular tools for determining page rank, and it is one of the many important tools that we utilize in our SEO arsenal.
Key Pointers For Internal Links
- Create lots of content- To make lots of internal links, you have to have a lot of internal pages. The first step to a good internal linking strategy is to have a good content marketing strategy, as they tie into each other. When you generate a lot of content, you will have a lot of linkable content. The more links to the more places, the better your internal linking strategy will be.
- Use anchor text- Your internal links need to use anchor text rather than linked images. While image links are fine (if they aren’t the main source of links and assuming the image is properly alt-tagged) anchor text is better
- Link deep- The deeper your links go, the better they are. There are two types of links that you should not use in your content:
- Homepage- A lot of sites have too many links to the homepage as it is. You should try to strengthen internal pages in order to boost the overall SEO of your site, rather than just pointing more links at the homepage
- Use links that are natural for the reader- Internal linking requires a user-focused approach to adding value and information. The link value that is distributed throughout the site is secondary to the main function, which is providing value to the reader. Internal linking can help improve user engagement on your site, so when a user sees an informative link that truly matches the context of the content, they are more likely to click on that link. Content links provide a strong signal to both the reader and the search engine that the content you’re linking to is really good. Readers want this, which is why internal linking helps the reader while also helping your SEO.
- Use relevant links- Internal linking, while not as rigorous as some may think, still requires intention. It’s key to not just link for the sake of linking, but instead link to content that is relevant to the source context. Basically, if you have a page on your site about cat food and a page on your site about dog bites, you probably don’t need to link the two because they don’t provide mutual enhancement. However, if you have a page on dog food, it may make a good internal link for an article on an article about dog bites.
- Use follow links- Follow links are the best way to fill out the internal link architecture of your content marketing. In the past, one theoretical internal linking strategy was to nofollow most of the links on a page in order to increase the link juice to a single page. This type of pagerank sculpting doesn’t work well as an SEO strategy. Using nofollow links is not a strategy that necessarily should be used as part of your internal content links, since the link value has to flow freely to and from internal pages, rather than get stopped up by a nofollow. You should try and keep things free and fluid.
- Use a reasonable amount of internal links- It isn’t necessary to have a huge amount of links in your internal content. Google’s instructions are fairly straightforward- keep the links on a given page to a reasonable amount. Nobody knows what this “reasonable amount” is, but typically we use around three to four depending on the length of your post. There is no magic number, but it’s important to keep in mind how many links would be helpful for the user.
Internal Links Are Key
Google organizes the web in an automated way. In order to accomplish this task, it has to utilize factors which are pulled directly from your website. Internal links are one of these key factors. You may need an SEO firm to assist you with your online marketing strategy. Call top Orlando SEO company MyCity Social to find out more today!