When most people think of link building tips, they think of building links back to their site from other sites. That includes submitting your site to directories, publishing articles or press releases, guest posting, or one of the many other traditional link building methods.
But another type of link building is internal link building. If you don't know what that is, the best way for me to describe it is by showing you an example. In the previous paragraph, you may notice that “link building tips” is a link back to another article on this website.
That link goes back to another page on my site. It's an internal link because it goes to another page on the same site.
Every site has at least a few internal links because you have to in order to link your content together. But it's a benefit to your SEO efforts AND for your visitors to add in a few more internal links. It helps people and the search engines find your content easier.
When using internal links, it's important to link to the page with descriptive keywords. That helps your rankings and your visitors as everyone will have an easier time figuring out what the article you link to is about.
To add in internal links, all you need to do is figure out the keywords you're targeting for your pages, and link back to those pages within another article, by using that keyphrase as the anchor text for your link. You don't want to go overboard with this, but a few links here and there will help your rankings. And it's also appreciated by your visitors.
When adding in internal links make sure you don't JUST target your home page. Although it's good to get links back to your home page, it's more effective to get backlinks to the deeper pages in your site. Often these are your content pages, which is what the people reading your articles would be more interested in anyway.
This is effective for two reasons. First it allows you to target keyphrases other than just those you are targeting from your home page. Second, Google sees this as a well connected website as a sign of a well-organized website. If your website is built in a way that people (and their spiders) can easily find web pages, then it's thought to be a better site over one where it's harder for visitors to find the deeper pages.
So go through your old articles and see where you can link back to other articles. Again this should help your rankings at least a little AND is appreciated by visitors. So it's really a win-win for you.
More Internal Links
If you have a WordPress blog, this next tip is a must read. (If you have a regular site, you can hardcode the concepts talked about for the same benefits.)
If you want to get some easy, relevant internal backlinks, then you need to download one of the many Related Posts plugins available. What these plug-ins do is add a few links at the bottom of each of your posts that link to other similar posts. The benefits of this are great.
The first benefit is internal linking with keyword rich text. If you write your titles with keyword rich text (which you should be doing), then by using the Related Posts plug-in, you'll get an internal link to that post with the keyword rich text that you chose originally. This will help that page (and all others that are listed with the Related Posts plug-in) to rank higher in the search engines.
The second benefit is that it can keep people on your site longer. If they like what they read and want to read more about that particular subject, then they will probably click one of the related articles provided by the Related Posts plug-in, which will keep them on your site longer (the benefits of having them on your site longer are obvious).
The third benefit is the authority you will get from having those links on a related page. Having any backlink on any page is good. But, if you have a backlink on a page about a subject related to the link, then it increases the value of that link. Therefore, when the plug-in generates the links, it generates a link that is relevant, and therefore it's presumably a higher value link.
If you have a WordPress blog, you need to install a plug-in like this. Not only will it allow you to build internal links, and build higher value links, but it also allows your readers to find other posts you've written on a similar topic, keeping them on your page longer.
Again, you can do this manually if you're not using WordPress. Other content management systems offer similar plugins and features so this is something you can do no matter what tool you've used to build your site.
A sitemap is another place to add in more internal links. A sitemap is a central location with links to all your pages. Again, you can use plugins if you're running a content management system like WordPress or you can create your sitemap manually. The main thing is to make sure you include descriptive text with your keyphrases in the links on your sitemap.
Site-Wide Internal Links
The examples I've shown you previously were what I call individual or page-by-page internal links. You need to go through and create them manually or use a plugin or tool that creates them on a page-by-page occurrence.
In the end, these internal links aren't on every page. Following my example, I'm not linking to my link building tips page with that exact anchor text on all my pages. It's just this page and a few others that offer content related to it.
With site-wide internal links, you're linking back to a particular page with the same anchor text on ALL your pages.
For example, you're likely going to have a link called ‘home' that will take visitors to your home page. This is useful and a must.
However, if you go a little too far with site-wide keyword rich internal links and instead of calling that link ‘home' you label it with your main keyword, for example, ‘SEO Tutorial', you're now crossing a line.
You can actually see a negative impact on your rankings by doing this. So it's important to use descriptive keyphrases, yet not keyword stuff when including any site-wide internal links on your pages. ‘Home' is probably a better descriptor for a link to your home page than anything with a keyword in it. Everyone recognizes what the home page of your site means.
Your main navigation menu will have internal links within it that are another example of site-wide internal links. If your site's built like many, you'll see the same navigation menu with the same exact links and anchor text on every page of your site (which is normal and fine).
And that really helps your visitors quickly see what you've got going on within your site. And it also helps the search engines know those are the most important pages and sections on your site (depending on how you've got things organized).
But one thing to consider is if you've got a big site, then this will result in 100's, 1,000's or even 10,000+ links all with the same anchor text. Again, you do need a main navigation menu so don't freak out and delete it, just don't stuff keywords into those site-wide links. Don't use ‘SEO Blog' when just ‘Blog' will do.
When it comes to your site-wide links less optimization is actually more as you will see negative consequences if you over-optimize these links.
So think about your site-wide internal links and the keywords you use for them.
- Does it benefit the visitor?
- Is the label you're using the best way to label that link or are you just trying to gain higher search engine rankings by adding in keyphrases?
Just to be clear, site-wide links are typically found in your navigation menus, your sidebar(s), and your footer. Again, you do need these links, but be careful not to over-optimize them by stuffing keyphrases throughout them.
If you've got a bigger site, one option that might provide a good user experience is to change up your site-wide links for the different sections on your site. You'd want to leave your main navigation menu and your legal links in your footer alone, but any secondary menus could change as well as links to special pages in your sidebar and your footer.
What I'm suggesting is definitely more work for you. It's more manual work and if you're using a content management system you'll likely need to do some coding to make this happen. But if it adds to the user experience then it may be worth thinking about.
Some options to consider for site-wide links (especially those that are optional) include:
- Leaving the links off altogether if you don't really need them.
- Adjusting the anchor text to something more natural (like ‘home' or ‘blog').
- Using the nofollow tag in links that are a must have for visitors, but the search engines might view as over-optimization.
- Changing your site-wide links up so that not every page has the same set of links (whether in your footer or sidebar). Instead you create a category-based sidebar or footer.
It's up to you how you want to approach this, but the best advice I can give you when it comes to internal links is to consider your visitor experience. Page-by-page internal links will always be helpful if you're using descriptive keyphrases and taking care to include them where it will help your visitors find related content.
Site-wide links are necessary for your main navigation menu and legal footer links, but it's crucial to watch for over-optimization with these especially. If you're going to include additional site-wide internal links, think about the best way to present them for your users. If you've only included them to help optimize your site then you may be crossing a line.