2 July 2012

Increase Website Traffic through Internal Linking

seo linkingSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) is absolutely critical to the success of websites. If your website is not optimized for search engines, or worse, if it’s optimized for the wrong keywords, you’re going to be truly disappointed in the traffic that you’re attracting, or not attracting, to your website. One thing that sites that attract a lot of QUALITY website visitors do besides optimizing their website with the right keywords is use internal linking throughout their website.

In this article I am going to define internal linking, explain why it’s critical for search engine optimization, provide the benefits of using internal links throughout your website, discuss tips for using internal links and show you some examples of websites that use internal links properly.

Definition of Internal Linking

Internal linking is a process of linking one web page with another web page, both of which are internal to your website. It’s the opposite of external linking. External linking would be the process of linking a web page on your website to a web page on someone else’s website. I’m sure most of us click on internal links almost every day. A very basic example is if you’re on a website’s About page and there’s a link to the Contact Us page — that’s an internal link.

When internal links are set up properly, they allow your visitors to flow through your website in a way that allows them to understand and digest each aspect of the topic in which your website covers until they fully grasp what you’re trying to convey. When you set up your internal links properly you can get website visitors from point A through point Z in the most efficient way possible so that you don’t lose them midway through the navigation. It’s important to think through your internal links before building your site so that you can make sure website visitors follow the path that you want them to through your website.

Internal Linking is Critical for Search Engine Optimization

Optimizing your website with internal links will help search engines recognize which pages on your website are the most important, and the most valuable, for website traffic. Most websites have one or two main pages on their website that they hope every visitor sees. What some website owners do not realize is that they can actually optimize their website with internal links so that they increase the chance of everyone seeing their key web pages. Website owners can set up internal links to their main web pages throughout their website from all other supporting web pages. By pointing your supporting web pages to your most critical web pages you can help search engines like Google, Bing, etc. understand that the web pages being linked to throughout you website are the most critical. Basically, searching engines are smart enough to realize that if your website is linking to the same one or two pages throughout your website, those web pages must be the most important.

When you use internal links throughout your website to point to one or two critical web pages, and you use the same keywords as anchor text, search engines will begin to associate those critical web pages with your keywords, and they will list your critical pages higher in search rankings (ahead of other pages on your website that may be associated with the same keywords, but may not be as valuable or important as the web pages that you’re linking to).

Let’s review an example to ensure this is absolutely clear:

  • Website Topic: Classic Cars
  • Website Goal: To sell Classic Car Cleaning Services
  • Critical Web Page 1: Classic Car Cleaning Guide
  • Critical Web Page 2: Classic Car Cleaning Services

With the above example being used, a website owner who is trying to sell classic car cleaning services should use internal links in the following way:

  • Home Page – Internal Link to – Classic Car Cleaning Guide
  • About Us Page – Internal Link to – Classic Car Cleaning Guide and Classic Car Cleaning Services Page
  • Blog Articles – Internal Link to — Classic Car Cleaning Guide and Classic Car Cleaning Services Page
  • Individual Classic Car Pages – Internal Link to — Classic Car Cleaning Guide and Classic Car Cleaning Services Page
  • Classic Car Guide Page – Internal Link to – Classic Car Cleaning Services Page
  • Classic Car Cleaning Services Page – No Internal Links – Call-to-Action: Contact Us to schedule your cleaning service for your classic car

As you can see from the example above, all of the web pages on the website link to one, or both of the two critical web pages, the Classic Car Cleaning Guide page, and the Classic Car Cleaning Services page. Since the goal of the website is to sell classic car cleaning services, the number one most critical web page on the entire website is Critical Web Page 2 because that’s the page that’s going to attract people to purchase services. Critical Web Page 1 is also important, which is why it’s linked to from almost all other web pages. The one difference is that even Critical Web Page 1 is linking to Critical Web Page 2. This will tell the search engines that both Critical Web Page 1 & 2 are the most important web pages on the website, thus they should rank higher than all other web pages within the website for the specific keywords that the website is using. The other thing that it tells search engines is that Critical Web Page 2 should be ranked higher than Critical Web Page 1 and that’s because Critical Web Page 2 has the most internal links and because even Critical Web Page 1, the second most important web page on the website, is linking to Critical Web Page 2.

Benefits of Optimizing Your Website with Internal Links

As you have probably already gathered from getting this far in the article, optimizing your website with internal links is important. That said, let’s go over some of the specific benefits of using internal linking throughout your website. Internal Linking…

  • Helps web visitors efficiently navigate through your website
  • Ensures visitors are seeing your critical content
  • Increases your search engine ranking for specific keywords
  • Moves your critical web pages within your website higher in search engine results
  • Attracts more visitors to your website

Internal Linking Tips for Your Website

At this point, I think that you probably have a pretty good grasp on internal linking and why it’s important. With that said, there are a few tips that I think will help you optimize your website with internal links:

  • Start with a plan. For new websites, think through your goals and what your most critical web pages are. Then create internal links to those web pages from all of your other pages.
  • Pick keywords that make sense and then use them as anchor text for your internal links
  • Use bulleted lists for internal linking
  • Try not to have more than 3 internal links from any one web page

Example Websites Using Internal Linking Effectively

There are a lot of websites out there that are using internal linking effectively. As I mentioned earlier in the article, you probably read websites everyday that are using internal linking to help boost their website traffic. Below are a few of the websites that I visit on a regular basis which do a great job of using internal linking effectively:

Ways to Incorporate Internal Links on Your Website

Now that we are almost to the end of the article, is it safe to say that if you have not already optimized your website with internal links that you will do so? Perfect! That said, one last piece of advice that I want to leave you with is a list of different ways that you can incorporate internal links on your website. There are a lot of ways to incorporate internal links on your website. Again, it’s all about thinking through your website up front, having a plan, determining what your most critical web pages are, what your keywords should be for those pages, and then executing on your plan by incorporating your internal links into your website. Here are a few of the best ways to incorporate internal link on your website:

  • Text links – Text links are the most obvious forms of internal links on any website. Internal links can be placed from any content within your website to create text links. Be sure your anchor text are keywords that you think people will use when trying to find website and then use those keywords to anchor your internal links throughout your website.
  • Footer Links – Links in the footer of your website can be a great place for internal links, and a place that’s often overlooked. Be sure to list your most critical web pages in your footer.
  • Blog articles – Blog articles are tremendous tools for so many different reasons, but especially when it comes to SEO and internal links. Writing blog articles gives you a chance to focus on a key topic that relates to your website, as well as, link your blog readers from your blog article to other pages within your website, like your most crucial web pages.
  • Banner ads – One type of internal link that most people don’t think of are banner ads. Internal banner ads can be a great tool for internal linking. Throw some banner ads to your most critical web pages in your websites’ sidebar.

Incorporate Internal Links on Your Website

Internal Linking helps search engines understand what your most important web pages are and then pushes those web pages up the search results for your specific keywords. In turn, that helps ensure that the majority of your website traffic will see your most critical web pages.

Have you already optimized your website with internal links? Do you have any other tips that you can share with our readers? Perhaps you haven’t had the chance to optimize your website with internal links yet. Will you do so after reading this article? I hope so. Internal linking really can help you drive quality web traffic to your website. Internal Linking can also ensure that the majority of your web traffic will see your most critical website content. If you have any internal linking tips, success stories, or anything you would like to share on the topic, please leave your comments below.

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The above article was originally published by Instant Shift and can be seen here.