SEO best practices – effective internal linking

In this article we will look at internal linking, why it is important, and how to use the technique effectively.

What is internal linking?

Internal links are hyperlinks that go from one page on a domain to a different page on that very same domain. Internal links main use is in the main navigation around your website. Internal links are useful for three reasons:

Why is internal linking important?

Internal linking is important because the search engines need to see the content of your website in order to list them. They also need to access the link structure of your website by using their spiders and crawlers in order to find all the pages of your website.

A common mistake made by designers and marketers is that they hide the navigation structure and don’t link up all the pages of their website and so when a spider arrives at your website, it may find some of the pages but not all of them.

A bad example

A bad example of internal navigation

The above example shows that the search engine spider arrives at the website, it finds the first three pages of the website, pages A, B and C, but can not access any links to the last two pages, D and E.

Instead of having the navigation structure as shown above, your website structure should resemble a pyramid structure. 

A good example

A goof example of internal linking

The above example illustrates the minimum amount of links between the homepage and other web pages.

This is a helpful technique because it allows link juice or ranking power to flow throughout the entire website and increasing the ranking potential for each page. This structure is common on many high performing websites such as The BBC, Ebay, and Amazon. High end websites take the form of category and subcategory systems.

How to do I use internal linking effectively?

To use internal linking effectively, you should plan your whole website to resemble a pyramid structure by planning what web pages your website will have, where you will have them, and what directories or folders your web pages will reside in.

You should then use the use of the technique of linking web pages such as your main website home page to individual home pages within directories or folders.

The BBC website is a typical example of a pyramid structure and frequently links its main pages to groups of pages within directories or folders such as groups politics, sport, and weather pages together in one place.

You should also use well formed internal links.

Example

<a href="http://www.jewellershop.com" title="Contemporary Jewellery from Jewellers Shop">Contemporary Jewellery from Jewellers Shop</a>

The above example starts with the <a> tag, shown in red, and this indicates the start of a hyperlink. Link tags can contain images as well as text, and allow users to click on something and move to another web page.

Next, the link referral location, shown in green, tells the browser (and the search engines) where the hyperlink points to. In the above example, the URL http://www.jewellershop.com is referenced.

Next, the visible portion of the link also known as “anchor text”, shown in blue, describes the page the hyperlink is pointing at. In above example, the page pointed to is about Contemporary Jewellery from a jewellery shop called Jewellers Shop, so the link uses the anchor text “Contemporary Jewellery from Jewellers Shop.”

Next, is the title tag, shown in purple, and is optional. The use of the title tag helps screen readers and programs acting as visual aids describe what a hyperlink on a web page is about. As shown in the example, you can place the same anchor text inside the title tag.

Finally the </a> tag, shown in red, closes the hyperlink so that the rest of the page will not have the link attribute applied to them.

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