If you’re a novice online business owner, you may already feel a little overwhelmed by the prospect of everything you need to do to get your company off the ground. In the beginning, your primary focus is probably inventory acquisition, public relations, and marketing, so website upkeep may take a backseat after the initial launch. As the dust settles, however, and you fall into a steady pace with your company, there should be no ignoring the necessity of a winning search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
While SEO is made up of many moving parts, one of the cogs in the machine is how you incorporate internal links into your website; when one of your pages links to another. By including them consistently and accurately, you are showing Google that your website values positive relationships between content.
Not All Internal Links are Created Equal
Internal links, as the name suggests, are links between pages of your own website. If you own a health food store, your blog post about the benefits of eating chia seeds might include an internal link to another post that you wrote about the necessity of incorporating foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants into your diet. You would not, however, create an internal link to the blog post that you wrote about jogging. While both of these topics are related to healthy habits, they aren’t related well enough to be considered a good pairing by Google.
Google wants to understand how the pages on your website relate to each other, so when it discovers a link, it follows it and analyzes the new page to be sure that the topics have something in common. If it can easily identify the relevancy between the links, it could give you a boost in traffic over time.
One way to explicitly provide relevancy is to link related posts manually throughout your website. If your website runs on WordPress, there are some plugins available out there that do this automatically. Two favorites of the SEO industry are:
But keep in mind that those plugins will only work as good as you configure them.
One of the best ways to incorporate internal links into your website is to make sure that they span the breadth of your site. If you regularly post in a blog, it doesn’t make sense to link to the blog post that are dated only a week or two back. You need to think through your inventory of topics and direct your readers to relevant content from farther back dates, too. The wider your web of internal links goes, the more exposure your readers will have to the full scope of your website, which could translate into higher conversion rates.
Links Show Importance
One way to prove to Google’s bots that your content is important is to:
- Have a lot of high-quality content to begin with.
- Include relevant internal links to your most popular and core content.
If there is a specific ideology that you are trying to sell, you need to find a way to link to your content that supports that ideology best. Keep in mind that pushiness can be a turn-off to your customers, so add links naturally in your content.
Audit Your Links
Maybe you edit a page’s URL or delete old content; or, accidents happen and you delete old content instead of updating or redirecting it. In this case, Google won’t know where to go or where to send your visitors. Error messages from a dead link gradually degrade the credibility of your website and can cost you conversions and sales. So regularly audit your links to make sure none are broken.
Utilize Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable part of a link. For example, if you have a sentence that reads, “This widget is the best, click to buy.” than “click” is the anchor text because it is hyperliked. By utilizing relevant words in your anchor text you will help signal to Google what the page that you’re linking to is about.
For reference, a better example would be, “Ready to buy? Click to buy widgets.” because we are telling Google that the link clicks through to a page specifically about widgets. Or “Detroit SEO” further signals that the linked page is a marketing company in Detroit.
The takeaway? Internal links tell Google and your customers a lot about your website’s content. They can make your site intuitive and easy to use, and that counts for a lot in a highly competitive online world. Just make sure that you add them smartly and strategically; otherwise they can hurt your site instead of helping it.