When a small business owner puts up their website, he may sit back in wonder admiring the slick, eye-catching website he just created. It is beautifully designed, with bold images and cool graphics. The thing is, though, without a road map that will lead prospective customers or clients to your site, it is like trying to find someone’s studio apartment in L.A. without a map. With millions of websites open for business on the world wide web, no one will find your fetching website without the help of some simple Google strategics.
One of the most underused ways for a small business to do this is with an internal linking strategy. In this article, we’ll talk about all the ways an internal linking strategy can benefit your website, and how you can put it into practice for yourself.
What is Internal Linking?
One of the simplest ways to increase the chances that Google will actually find your awesome website and all of its magnificent content is to simply add some internal linking between your pages once your website is live. By adding a few strategic internal links within the copy—hyperlinks that take people to other relevant copy on your site— readers will increase both their time and level of engagement on your website. Internal links can be seen as a virtual conversation between various pages of content on your site, where a reader can bounce from one page to the next for helpful, relevant, and useful material.
How an Internal Linking Strategy Helps SEO
Each internal link that you embed into your pages actually adds SEO girth to your site. Why? Because those wily Google bots creep around websites, following the links between pages. In the eyes of Google, the internal links bolster the relationship between your site’s pages and solidify its identity, purpose, and validity. Using well-planned internal links can help shape the hierarchy of your website, giving the most punch to the pages you have determined to be your cornerstone content. Targeting cornerstone content with internal links helps build value to that content and elevates that page’s SEO ranking.
Imagine all the sub-par content that those poor Google bots have to wade through 24/7, attempting to sift through billions of bytes to identify the pernicious webmaster guideline offenders, with their link schemes and keyword stuffing, from the legit businesses. Adding a smattering of internal links to original, quality content tells Google your website is trustworthy and provides valuable content beyond the home page.
The Nuts and Bolts of Effective Internal Linking
Before you begin the task of employing an internal linking strategy on your website take a good, hard look at your site. Do you have ample content? Do you have well-titled page titles, each with a distinct purpose that creates a strong navigational framework for your website? If so, is the content informative and valuable to the reader? If you have answered in the affirmative, hooray! You are off to a solid start.
There are several winning steps to take to help the Google bot make sense of the landscape of your website. These steps are easy enough to accomplish by even the tech novice. They include:
- Identify key phrases within the content on a given page that relate to information provided on a different page. Get into edit mode, highlight the phrase and select the chain link icon in the toolbar. There you can paste the URL of the page (or select the name of the page from a dropdown menu) and, voila! a link has been formed. Highlight a few different phrases or words, say three or four, on each page and create links to various related page content elsewhere on the site.
- If you’ve been blogging, do the same process there. You can select a few phrases to link one blog article to other compatible blog articles, giving the reader additional information on a particular theme. You can also add a link phrase at the bottom of each blog page to suggest they read another blog title. Blogs are increasingly important int eh quest to gain Google dominance. As a source of fresh content uploaded on a regular basis, you can maximize their effectiveness adding relevant, internal links to each article you publish.
- Avoid linking solely to the home page and the contact us page. Most likely your home page is a simple overview of the site and doesn’t contain much meat. And why link to the contact us page if every page has (or it should have) your contact info right there on the footer? Make the most use of the internal links by routing the reader deep into the website to pertinent pages related to the anchor text (the phrase you selected and linked). Again, you want the reader to spend time at your site, excavating for the treasure within.
- Be selective about the links you create. No one wants to read through a page that has twenty hotlinks screaming out at you. That is annoying and distracting, and an obvious SEO ploy. Instead, pick a handful of key phrases that are relevant to other content pages in the site. Think quality, not quantity. Keep your reader in mind at all times to make the experience on your website meaningful, informative, and valuable.
Draw Customers Deeper into Your Website
In essence, internal links draw the reader more deeply into your website, helping to introduce them to valuable information they otherwise might miss. Think about it: When we visit a website, we see a row of page tabs with generic sounding titles. Who would ever encounter all of the additional pages that reside within without a cleverly implemented internal linking strategy that offers a treasure hunt for the prospective customer or client? An internal linking strategy does just that for your customers, providing them with valuable content that not only keeps them on your website longer, but also increases the chance that they will do business with you.
The addition of an internal linking strategy throughout your content will pay off in spades for both your SEO power as well as the user-friendly nature of your website. So go forth and make your own treasure map and reap the SEO rewards using an internal linking strategy.