Internal links

Use internal links to chain your site together and make it work as one unit

Use internal links to chain your site together and make it work as one unit

One of the things I forgot to mention when I was talking about on-page SEO was internal linking.  This was very remiss of me so I thought I should cover it immediately.

Internal linking is the practice of creating links in your text that point to other pages on your site.  It is a part of SEO training that is often not covered.

Why use internal links?  After all you have a navigation menu so what use are more links to the same pages?  Navigation does not generally allow you use the keywords you would like a page to be found for.  The “home” navigation item is a prime example.  You could forgo the word “home” and put in something that relates to the actual page, but that would be at odds with good heuristics (ease of use) for your user.  Visitors to a website expect to see a home page.  So we need to give it to them.  The trouble is that the word “home” does nothing as far telling a search engine what the page is about (unless you have a property site perhaps).  The same is true with all your navigation links.  They do not give an ideal idea of what the page is about.  They are usually only one or two words long for a start.

With internal linking in your body text, because you control the website, you have total control over what text goes into those links.  Let’s look at it from a search engines point of view.  They look at links, the text in the links and the relevance of the page the link points to.  They assume that the text in the link is representative of the page you are pointing to (otherwise it’s a pointless link).  If you have descriptive text in a link, it tells the search engine a bit more about the page than it could gain from simply crawling the page itself.  You are telling the search engines that the keyword(s) you use in your link are important for that page.  The search engines take that information, and when somebody else types those same keywords into the search engine, the search engine goes, “oh, I know, This page here is about that”, simply because it has been told it is by the link text.  Link text is a prime SEO factor.

That over simplifies it a bit, but it’s all you really need to know about it for now.

How to use internal links.  Like with all areas in SEO, moderation is king.  But I thought it was content that was king I hear you say.  Well yes, but Moderation in SEO efforts is vital.  Otherwise you are stuffing.

Here is a wonderful benefit of using internal link text.  You get the benefit of the words twice.  Say, for example you have a front (home) page on your site (which doubtless you do).  On that page you want to inform visitors about the whole sites’ contents.  To do this you write text that talks about all the things you have going on in the site.  Within that text will be keywords that you want to be found for, and those keywords will relate to other pages on the site.  Make a link out of them and point them to the other pages.

By creating a link in text you are saying to both users and search engines that they can find more information on the subject of the linked text by clicking on it.  The keyword is on the page and at the same time you are pointing out that another page on your site is also related to that keyword.  Sweet.

Blogging is a prime example of where this technique is used well.  I don’t do enough of it.  I sometimes write these posts just to remind myself of what I should be doing.  Take a look at copyblogger though.  Not only do they have a fair few internal links, but they also do a great job of teaching you about writing internet copy (that’s text to you and me).  They also write nice short posts in general, something I should learn from.

A word of caution.

I have seen this done to excess.  Try not to make your pages a horrendous looking sea of links.  Remember that guidelines say that you should have less than 100 links per page.  That includes all your navigation by the way.

Also, I should point out that including several links to the same page within your text is regarded by some (myself included) as a waste of time.  There is some evidence that if you use two different keywords to link to the same page, the first keyword will be given preference and the second will be ignored.  Somebody actually set up an experiment to test it and it would seem to be the case on Google.

Make sure the keywords you use in your link are relevant to both the page you link to and the surrounding text on the page you are linking from.  This is important.

I should have given you the short version of this post really:-

Create internal links with relevant keywords and don’t overdo it!  It will do you wonders.

About Ian Wortley

Ian is one of Irelands leading SEO consultants with over 8 years experience in the Irish market. Ian discovered his love of all things internet related in 2005 and has been living nearly exclusively online since then, causing much worry to friends and family, but getting great results for clients. Contact Ian: Phone: 01 6854806 Mobile: 086 3817149