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Striking Gold with Internal Links

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Anchor textIf content is king, then anchor text is the gold all kings desire. Content needs anchor text and internal links to be crawled, indexed, and found by search engines and users alike. Without anchor text the content you have spent hours creating becomes a dead-end page or worse…orphaned. A well-architected website will improve usability, conversion, and search rankings.

Site Architecture

The first step to building a successful strategy for internal links is to determine the best architecture for your site. The site architecture of a website will lay the foundation for how link juice is passed from one page to another so it is important to architect your site in a manner consistent with your objectives.

Site Architecture Triangle
Triangles are among the strongest geometric shapes. Most e-commerce sites use triangles as the basis for their site architecture.
Architecting your site navigation in the shape of a triangle creates a natural navigational funnel for the consumer – increasing the probability of conversion. In regards to search engine optimization, a website architected in the shape of triangle is mutually beneficially because it naturally passes link juice to deeper pages within a site.

There are many other ways to architecture your site. The most popular are triangles, linear, bi-conic, and egg shaped. Each of these have there own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to internal links.

Once you have chosen how to architect your website you will need to decide how to your link your pages. Predominantly anchor text will be used for internal links so choose your words wisely. Any text that is placed within the anchor tag


will become a keyword phrase that the search engines will use to determine relevancy. Relevancy is determined by the surrounding text and the content of the landing or destination page. The more relevant the anchor text, the higher in value it becomes to your content.

Text

When building your anchor text keep these helpful tips top of mind:

    1. There’s no need to use excessive CSS to emphasize anchor text, as it is already considered important by the search engines. Leave the bolding to add emphasis to non-linking text.
    2. Try not to link internally to another page with the exact anchor text used to link to a different page, especially on the same page.
    3. Refrain from using words such as [click here] as anchor text.

Images

Internal linking can also be accomplished through the use of images. Image links can be just as valuable as anchor text when optimized with attributes and a human readable name. If you site relies heavily on images for navigation you should also consider building an image sitemap. There are three main points to focus on when optimizing image links:

    1. Alt attributes – concisely and descriptively describe what the user sees in the image.
    2. Title attributes – this will add a tooltip to any element and can read by screen readers or used by users to make a decision to navigate.
    3. Image name – the image name should describe the content of the image and not be a computer-generated number.

Summary

Intelligent internal links and a thoughtful structure are required if you want your content to be found easily. Take the time to evaluate your site architecture to determine your most valuable pages on your site. Use your most valuable pages to link to pages of lesser value and watch your search engine rankings soar.

Author

Guest Blogger Matt Dolge
Matt Dolge is the Organic Search Manager of Zumiez, the leader of action sports related apparel & equipment. With over 15 years experience in technology and E-commerce, Matt Dolge engineers solutions for large-scale search engine optimizations. Matt Dolge is the founder of Cartel Circuit a consortium dedicated to design, marketing, mobile and web development.

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  • Well put! Inever thought that much about site architecture and it’s importance for internal links.
    Thanks for the tips.

  • Corey

    This article actually has some bad info in there. For instance if all your internal links are “anchor text” filled you’re run the risk of getting penalized by Penguin for “over optimizing” your site. Some anchor text links are good, but you must maintain a more natural link profile and the advice in here could be taken the wrong way, resulting in an unnatural link profile.

    Keep things natural and don’t try to game the system and you’ll be good.

  • Thanks Bob!