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Your Website’s Internal Link Structure – How to Optimize

Estimated reading time: 5 mins

There’s much SEO benefit to be had from making the best of links that can be made within your site in addition to the accumulation of inbound links. Here’s how to go about it for best results:

To truly get the best from internal link building and reap rewards from the search engines, we need to start at the beginning.

Here we look at what exactly an internal link is and what we need to consider when developing the internal link structure of any site to enjoy positive search consequences.

What is an internal link?

The definition of an internal link is a link that connects one webpage to another within the same website domain. In this case, the aforementioned ‘another’ may be a webpage, an image or any other media file, download or file.

With regards to factors that should be considered, keep this in mind when building your internal link structure:

  1. The well-constructed website leads visitors where they should go. Whether it’s where they want them to go or where we want them to go, they should be able to get there rapidly and easily.
  2. How the search engines will see the links you have built, and how they will be rated.

Although we have an interest here at xxx(your site) on user experience, the focus in this article is around SEO and how to get best results.

It’s no secret that broken links are not only negative for PageRank but they also produce horrible results with regards to both user experience and search results. Let’s take a closer look at what we can address to gain positive results with regards to internal link structures:

The use of anchor text for internal link structure

The use of anchor text can aid the search engines in understanding how relevant a particular word is to the page in the link. This post goes into further detail.

For example, we add a link in the homepage of a retail site for fruit and vegetables with a link through to ‘buy fruit’. Using a number of different factors that are considered for ranking and how strong the site is, the page that is targeted from that link will then have an improved ranking on search engines such as Google and Bing for ‘buy fruit’.

Although this can be powerful, it still should be used with caution. If you cram in all manner of links with anchor text, it will weaken your site and power of the anchor text.

We will cover more about how to get a good level of links on a page later on, but now just imagine your retail site selling fruit. Your menu would read something like:

Week Long Stays

  • Small green apples
  • Medium green apples
  • Large green apples
  • Small red apples
  • Medium red apples
  • Large red apples
  • Small yellow apples
  • Medium yellow apples
  • Large yellow apples
  • And so on

The objective is to help your human users by using descriptive and helpful links whilst using anchor text appropriately.

If you’d like to know how to best handle the menu above, read on.

Minimize duplicate links

On occasion, it turns out that the same page will have multiple links. For example, you’ll find that the majority of sites will have two different links through to the home page on the same page. One being on the logo and one in the menu.

Although you want to help your visitors reach the pages that they want to visit, it’s also key to ensure that your linking structure is clean and the links are kept to a minimum. Quite often you’ll see how site caretakers have violated this principle in the footer.

When multiple links are in use, the way they are valued is not reliable and can vary. Although technically the PageRank formula that should be applied should give the page more power, nobody truly knows how this works exactly.

So therefore we cannot rely on the fact that it does work and that when multiple links are used, they may be ignored or they may even dissipate the power of PageRank. If the result is that multiple links are ignored, then the page has also been cluttered up from the visitors point of view, for no good reason.

However, we do advise that a third link is added on the home page so that there is some direction for the search engine to take on board. Otherwise, they will not have any clues that the page is not about ‘home’ as it may read on the two links it will usually find there, but about ‘apples’.

Pass value from the page you link to

There is another important point to note. As you are most likely aware – all website pages with any value will have a trust flow or page authority. This is an accumulated value from both your site and from other sites that you’re linked to. You will gain trust flow or page authority from any pages that you’re linked to, as long as they have a decent, established backlink profile.   You can benefit from this by linking the pages that you want to improve to your most linked to page(s). Be picky and choose the most relevant pages to benefit from. Again, don’t do this too much or you’ll lose the value of it. It’s something to be undertaken with strategic planning and care in mind.

If you’re in the process of building an extremely informative page that could attract a lot of links to it, then you’d be wide to build in some links to relevant pages to make the best of the situation.

The objective

In order for you to approach this most effectively, be aware that the objective with making the best of internal linking is to organise the pages of your site into logical categories. Basically, you can do this by adding an overall topic page and then build other deeper levels that are more detailed below. The main topic pages need to be designed with more content and to link to the deeper levels. This will also result in a cleaner and easier to use navigation.

Although there is no magic pill to gaining a sweet spot on the search results, it’s possible to influence your position by building your site in a smart way. You can also help your visitors get from page to page whilst adding relevant and appropriate anchor text. By following the above points on how to construction your internal link structure, you should enjoy improved search engine results. Let us know how you get on.

 

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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