Links are used to attract more views to a webpage/web content. These 3 links shall define the different ways you can bring like to your web content and eventually impressions. Even search engines use these links to read and store more web content.
Internal links are those links that connect different webpages of the same website.
- Helps Google to understand the structure of the website.
- Helps Search engine navigate through your website.
- If in case there are no links on your site, then the search engine might not even read through it.
- Apart from the basic and common links present in your Home page, Menu, etc., there are also certain links attached to the content. The latter is called Contextual links.
- These contextual links help Search engines to understand the most important pages and also how each webpage is related to each other.
- When a page receives more links, it will be treated as an important page by the Search engine.
Why is it an important factor for search engines?
- Google, for instance, uses Google bots to crawl over webpages. It starts with the homepage and crawls over the other pages with the help of internal links.
- Through this, Google shall understand the website wholly, and will also analyse which content on the site are similar.
- Another important factor is the LINK VALUE. A website’s homepage will always have more link value due to many backlinks. This overall link value shall be divided into equal quantities to all the links present in the Homepage. This procedure will follow each separate link too.
Example: Imagine you have a website called INTERNALLINKING.COM. Its homepage (more link value) consists of different links that connect to different webpages like TECHNIQUES, PURPOSE and TOOLS. Following this, each of these webpages have another set of links present in each of it. When a search engine crawls over your website, it shall use the link value of the homepage and share it equally among the 3 links (Techniques, Purpose and Tools) present in it. If the link value is 9 for the home page then, each of the other 3 pages shall receive 3 each. This value (3) of the Tools page will further be shared equally among the links present in that page.
- However, this is one of the main reasons why most of the webpages are attached to the homepage, i.e., to have more link value. Even in the case of new content, attach it to the homepage for more link value. Search engines will also read the new content and update your website fast.
SETTING UP AN INTERNAL LINKING STRATEGY
Before you start with the actual work, analyse a few things and keep in mind a few things like:
- CREATE A PYRAMID AND SET THE STRUCTURE OF YOUR WEBSITE: Start from the scratch. Draw a pyramid and start setting the structure with the Home page, followed by a few Sections/Categories and then by a few Subcategories and finally individual posts/pages.
- Homepage should contain links to all the categories to make it easy for the Search engines to crawl over it and viewers to visit all your webpages.
- However, keep the linking simple because too much of internal linking on the homepage will lead one nowhere. Keep it simple, tidy and relevant.
- SET A CLEAR NAVIGATION CHANNEL ON YOUR WEBSITE: There are 2 main elements in this step which are: i) Menu and ii) Breadcrumbs.
- WEBSITE MENU is similar to the food menu you receive in restaurants. Just like how the latter helps you understand what dishes are present in the restaurant, even the former helps one understand what is present in a website. It helps in navigation too. This is why it is important to add all the main headings/links to the website menu. (CAUTION: Do keep the linking under limit, just like that of the homepage). If your website is too big, then you can also have 2 main menus. Eg: Amazon, eBay, etc.
- BREADCRUMBS (clickable links usually at the top of the page) are another way to let people know how to navigate through the website. With the help of breadcrumbs, a user shall not only understand the structure of your site but also where they are on the website, thereby enhancing user experience and SEO practices.
- TAXONOMIES: Taxonomies like Categories and Tags help you in grouping similar content, which will help a user identify similar contents under the same category. These are mostly used for shopping websites.
- In case of Categories, they are hierarchical with all subcategories, etc. But Tags are not that way as they just explain what the grouped content is all about. For example, a tag can present the BRAND and all the products they produce under it.
- It is important to add the main category to the main menu for easy navigation.
- Avoid too many tags. Always repeat tags to make it more effective, rather than using unique tags all the time.
- CONTEXTUAL LINKING: Unlike the common internal linking, contextual linking depends on the context of the link and its relevance. Google mainly uses the Anchor text/the text that carries the link as a means to understand what the linked text is all about. Currently, Google is also referring to the content spread all over the anchor text to understand content clearly.
Example: You can write a cornerstone article and then write relevant small articles so as to link both through internal linking.
- LONG-TERM SITE STRUCTURE MAINTENANCE: It is important to keep your website active and to keep adding content regularly. Therefore, when the website is left unattended, it might turn into a mess with all the new content flowing in. Regular maintenance of your site structure is significant.
- Analyse your website from time-to-time and reevaluate your menu.
- Rethink your taxonomy, create new tags and categories. Make sure your pyramid is in a balance with equal distribution of content in each category.
- Clean up outdated content by either updating the old content and republishing it or remove it completely. Avoid error pages and remove pages that have more loading time.
- Use relevant, unique and engaging keywords.
- NOFOLLOW LINK: Use this link to stop the search engines to crawl over some personal pages like the Login page, etc.
Before we move forward, you need to know what LINK JUICE is. Link Juice refers to the link value shared among the linked links. It applies to all kinds of linking. CRAWL DEPTH refers to the limit to which the search engine indexes a website/webpage. More crawl depth refers to more page value.
As of 2020, the following are the best Internal Linking practices:
- Add more content to your site, regularly.
- Link the higher authority pages to the new ones for more view and value.
- Use alt tags for linking images.
- For anchor texts, always use unfragmented sentences.
- Never link to your homepage internally and avoid linking to your Contact Us page (most cases). Enhance your link depth.
- Primary purpose of Internal links are contextual linking. Therefore, do it wisely.
- Use relevant links. Keep the internal links in small numbers. For instance, 5 links will be sufficient for a 1500 word limit content. Also, keep the links scattered.
- Avoid using internal links in the footer page instead, keep in higher.
- Avoid using the same anchor text in 2 different webpages.
- Avoid internal link automation to avoid unnecessary anchor texts and degradation of page value.
OUTBOUND AND INBOUND LINKS
These links connect a webpage of one domain with a web page of another domain through similar content. While outbound linking refers to those outside links that we link with our web content, Inbound linking refers to those of our links that are linked in another domain. Inbound links are also called backlinks.
For instance, when you link a webpage from Nike.com to your web content, it is called Outbound linking. Now, if you Nike.com links your web content in their webpage, it is called Inbound linking/backlinks.
Through these outbound and inbound linking, a great network of similar content is formed, making it easier for the search engines to crawl over thousands of pages.
OUTBOUND LINKS – 2 TYPES
- NOFOLLOW LINKS: These links put a halt to the Google page rank juice flow because it does not allow the search engine to crawl over the linked pages. These are used on rare occasions.
- DOFOLLOW LINKS: These are the normal hyperlinks/external links that connect two different websites with similar content. By doing this, the link value is passed on from your website to the linked website.
In terms of anchor texts, you may use the relevant keywords as anchor texts, especially those keywords used in the other website content. You can also use ANCHOR TITLE which consists of hidden keywords and is also useful in helping one understand in detail, what the other website is all about.
MERITS OF OUTBOUND LINKING
- Helps Google or any search engine to identify what your web content is all about.
- Builds a healthy relationship between other website owners.
- Helps build your page authority.
- Builds trust in your content as it provides external proves for it.
- Mostly used by content marketers to provide additional information to the topic they have discussed on their site.
BEST PRACTICES FOR OUTBOUND LINKS
- Study the other website thoroughly, especially the content that you are about to link.
- Identify the source through which you will link.
- You can either illustrate a point and link the relevant content from another website or give credit to an article that influenced you in writing whatever you are about to write.
- Backup data/facts for linking.
- Create content similar to that of the content you are about to link. Even in terms of videos/audios/texts.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST PAGE TO LINK?
Keep in mind the following points to choose the best page for your outbound linking:
- Is the page relevant to my content and if yes, how far?
- How is the content written on the other page? Is it grammatically correct and engaging?
- Does it have other linked links too?
- Is the content/data original and unique? Is it authentic?
- What is the reputation of the organisation that has published that particular content?
- What is the credibility of the author?
- How recently was the page published/updated? (Best if it is before 12 months. However, till 3 years is universally accepted.)
- Is the linked content truly worth your readers’ time?
Always use a variety of publishers for your outbound linking practices and avoid sites that encourage more ads (which will only reduce user satisfaction/reader experience). You can also use your competitor’s content for your inbound linking practices as this will help Google analyse your page rank and authority. It will also boost backlinks for you from your competitors’ sites. Use a maximum of 5 links to your blog post or one external link to every 230 words. Also, see if the attached link needs to be opened in a different tab or in the same one.
AVOID OUTBOUND LINKING:
- In your website’s navigation panel as it is used by the user only to get navigated inside your website.
- For landing pages like Sign Up, etc.
- These are significant for SEO because this gives more coverage, page value and audience.
- Unlike the other links, you need not do any liking here, but all you have to do is to produce quality content and maintain a great page rank.
- When you are mentioned in a high authority website, the reach and rank for your website will grow manyfold.
- Use appropriate tags too.
- Always do a backlink research in order to start linking effectively. Competitive backlink research is vital here.
- Higher rank in search engines, as part of SEO and an increase in referral traffic, are the 2 main advantages of Inbound linking.
- A good inbound link must come from an authoritative website and through a relevant and engaging anchor text.
HOW TO BUILD INBOUND LINKS?
- Write guest blog posts.
- Build your relationships with other website owners through outbound links.
- Maintain a regular flow of content.
- Publish helpful resource tips/lists.
- Always follow outbound linking.
- Write new, unique and authentic posts.
- Generate case studies for your top-most clients and also be a part of other’s case studies.
- Write reviews.
- Conduct administer surveys.
- Host free webinars and post archived copies online.
- Create slideshows, sharable templates, free tools, visual content and compelling infographics for free (while starting).
- Write press releases or be part of one.
- Do some co-marketing.
- Study and identify the mentions of your brand online.
- Monitor and study your competitors’ backlinks.
- Install social sharing widgets.
- Sponsor an event or participate in one.
HOW NOT TO BUILD INBOUND LINKS?
Always avoid the five B’s of Bad Link Building:
- BORROWING – Adding one’s own website link in other’s blog posts. (In the comment section).
- BEGGING – Sending creative emails (or any form of messages) to a person, asking/begging for backlinks.
- BARTERING – Refers to link building rings where one would link another website when others website links them back. This could also involve more than 2 people.
- BRIBING – Many companies bribe webmasters/bloggers for backlinks.
- BUYING – There’s a black market for buying backlinks but is strictly prohibited.
On the whole, there’s something called RECIPROCAL LINKING, which refers to those cases when two or more websites link each other. Though a minimum amount of such is acceptable, it is still not that feasible. Excessive link exchanges will only infuriate Google/any search engine for that matter. Therefore, keep it under control and under limits.
Use internal links for explaining the structure of your website and also in helping a user navigate through the dame. Use outbound links to build relationships and more organic viewership. Even your page rank and authority will increase. Use inbound links to build trust and authenticity for your website. Also increase your reach online.
More on Digital Marketing.