When thinking about getting your site more exposure, you probably think about external links to other sites. However, proper SEO starts at home with the internal linking of your own site map and navigation. Internal links are defined by Google as links that are located on pages that belong to your domain.
Similar to a visual representation of the World Wide Web, made of weaving and interconnecting lines, your site is its own microcosm created from related links. Internal linking builds the navigation structure of your site to help visitors find more information within the domain while also determining your rankings on search engines.
On the World Wide Web, search engines function by finding your site through the work of spiders, the term for bots that crawl (or “fetch”) webpages. Spiders retrieve and index pages that are stored in a database.They begin with the list of the site’s URLs and the Sitemap submitted to the search engine by the webmaster. These pages are then processed through the search engine’s algorithms to calculate rankings and relevancy. Google’s index is updated as the spiders discover links on each page and adds them to the list of pages to retrieve.
Keywords: foundation of internal linking
In order to find information on a site, users type in relevant keywords. The Sitemap, list of URLS on your site viewed by search engines and users, you submit to search engines should be based off keywords. To first build your Sitemap and categorise your links so that they relate to each other, contemplate and group together related keywords that will help determine hierarchy.
Page and link hierarchy
When thinking of hierarchy, the most important component of a structure is first. On a website, this is the Homepage. Your page and link hierarchy for site navigation should be ordered based on order of importance and branch off:
Other pages (for products, information, etc.)
The more internal links that point to a page, the more a search engine will view that page to be important. As users link to the site’s homepage URL the most, group and place your category links on the homepage to take advantage of that initial viewing. Keep your internal linking consistent by not having duplicate URLS or the same content but different URLs.
It has become standard in web design to link to important category pages of the site at the footer of the page, which is related to the concept that the more links to a page, the more important search engines will view the page.These links are repeated on every page so that visitors can access useful information no matter the current page. Links that tend to be in the footer include pages describing the site (‘About Us’) or links to social networking sites.
When thinking of where to include internal linking, link to your pages from underutilised tabs. Many visitors will visit the ‘Contact Us’ page of a site when looking for more information, which tend to have minimal links, but with the traffic it receives, this is a valuable place to link to more related or important content.
A good way to direct users to more pages naturally is to include related links at the bottom of a page they just read.
Types of internal linking to avoid
There is a thing as too much internal linking on a page when you list so many links that users find it is hard to know where to start clicking. Too much internal linking also means providing links that are not relevant to user, such as providing region-dependent links to visitors that are not located in that region.
Some third-party linking may even result in being penalised by Google Penguin, Google’s enforcer against spammy links.
Review internal linking
After submitting a Sitemap so sites like Google know all about your pages, search engines will categorise your site. Using Google Webmaster Tools to view your site’s links will help you determine how you will go about internal linking.To view internal links in Webmaster Tools, click on the site name on the Homepage, then Traffic -> Internal Links. Use this feature to revise or group together internal links or look for broken ones.