Search Marketers’ 5 Best Practices for Internal Linking

Internal links function a lot like road signs for the Internet. You reach your destination faster when they are clear and lead you in the right direction. Internal links perform a similar function for popular search engines. They use them to guide visitors to relevant information on your website.

Internal links function a lot like road signs for the Internet. You reach your destination faster when they are clear and lead you in the right direction.

Internal links perform a similar function for popular search engines. They use them to guide visitors to relevant information on your website.

First, What Is Internal Linking?

Internal links connect the pages of your website to one another. You may be discussing a topic like making sunflower oil and link to a previously written article on different types of equipment you can use in this process. Doing so helps apply structure and logic to the design of your website.

By adding internal linking, you can:

  • Define the architecture of your website
  • Help users navigate through your site
  • Give pages throughout your site more “SEO power” to help ranking and authority

Internal linking helps Google and other search engines find clear paths to your content. They also encourage users to linger on your website longer and build a tight network of posts and pages.

How Are Internal and Inbound Linking Different?

Inbound links, also commonly called backlinks, connect one external website to another. Your online reputation rises whenever an external site makes a legitimate link back to your webpage. It is a digital representation of a recommendation. Someone is confirming that your website is a valuable resource on a specific subject.

Inbound links are also an important factor in Google’s assessment of how well you conform to E-A-T standards.

  • E — Expert
  • A — Authoritative
  • T — Trustworthy

That is how Google decides how well sites rate when it comes to answering user queries. The higher your E-A-T factor, the better your overall rankings in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

OK, now that you understand inbound links let’s switch the focus back to internal links…

How Do Internal Links Affect SEO?

Internal links also play a significant role in E-A-T. You strengthen the optimization of your site and make it easier for Google to assess how well you rate in responding to search requests. This helps Google more easily index your pages and, hopefully, result in better search rankings for your website.

If your analysis of your inbound links shows most of them coming to your homepage, that is a sign that your pages are not fully optimized. You want to see users coming to your internal pages and then making their way to your homepage. External links should target various pages around your site.

Strong internal linking creates better indexation and clear paths to relevant content around your site. It helps contribute to a pyramid-style structure of your website, meaning there are very few links (or pages) between your homepage and other site pages, helping them achieve stronger ranking power.

Tips on Improving Your Internal Linking

You should keep the following in mind when adding internal links to content throughout your website. Please note that you should no longer need to stuff internal links with keywords, a popular SEO method from prior years.

  1. Use Anchor Text instead of navigational text or images to increase the value of your internal links in search engines.
  2. Make Sure You Have a Lot of Content Pages around your site. The better your information, the longer users will linger.
  3. Link as Deeply as Possible and stay away from links to pages already included in your main navigation like your Home page. Make those links as natural as possible for a better content marketing strategy.
  4. Make Your Links Relevant to the information users need. Don’t send users to a page about red sneakers when they are interested in details on orthopedic inserts.
  5. Avoid Overkill. While internal linking can be a powerful SEO tool, adding too many can end up being less useful for the user. That means no blocks of link footers at the bottom of your page.

Summary

Keep the following in mind when it comes to internal linking.

  1. Make sure your internal links provide a clear path to relevant information for a user.
  2. Understand the difference between internal and inbound links. Both can be leveraged in improving your site SEO.
  3. Follow best practices when creating internal links. Avoid misleading links, keyword stuffing, and overloading of internal links within your content.

Want more tips to improve your search engine optimization? Click here to grab a copy of the “Ultimate SEO Checklist.”

8 Elements of Strong Off-Page SEO

The whole point of SEO is improving your website’s ranking in search engines. And while good SEO includes a checklist of website optimization tips, it’s the marketing that happens on other blogs, forums and websites — and even in the real world — that can really fuel a climb in the search rankings. This is called off-site SEO. It’s those aspects of marketing that raise awareness of your brand while building your reputation with your audience.

The whole point of SEO is improving your website’s ranking in search engines. And while good SEO includes a checklist of website optimization tips, it’s the marketing that happens on other blogs, forums and websites — and even in the real world — that can really fuel a climb in the search rankings.

This is called off-site SEO. It’s those aspects of marketing that raise awareness of your brand while building your reputation with your audience. Guest-writing posts for popular blogs, getting great Yelp reviews and impressing the pants off of your customers are all examples of off-site SEO. With strong off-site SEO, people will want to learn about your business before even bothering with Google. Reach that point, and SEO gets a whole lot easier.

Read on for eight elements of strong off-page SEO that you should incorporate into your marketing strategy.

1. Sell a Fantastic Product

This is ground zero for off-site SEO. Great marketing can sometimes make up for a ho-hum product, but only temporarily. Eventually, the truth comes out — and good luck getting people excited about something that’s average at best.

In addition to providing goods and services that are actually useful and valuable, you should also focus on how you can sweeten the deal with remarkable associated offers. Back your product with a lengthy warranty. Create a generous return policy. Open a tech-support line. Don’t just sell your product — convince customers that your business is the best place to buy from.

2. Seek Out Higher-Quality Inbound Links

Since the earliest days of SEO, inbound links have played important roles in establishing a website’s credibility. In recent years, though, Google started penalizing sites with larger volumes of low-quality inbound links. It’s far more important nowadays to focus on high-quality inbound links from reputable blogs and websites.

With this in mind, you should always be thinking of ways to get more links from high-quality sites. Consider writing guest blogs or informative articles for influential websites in your industry, or pitch story ideas to your local media to get inbound links from news stories. You can also build high-quality inbound links by interacting with influential industry figures on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media. You might even find link-building opportunities with clients and business partners.

3. Be the Best at Customer Service

Word of mouth is extremely powerful — not just the good, but the bad. Customers who have great experiences with retailers and local businesses are much more likely to become loyal shoppers. On the flipside, customers who feel spurned, overlooked or insulted might vent to their friends or, worse, rip your business on social media.

Simply put, be the best at customer service. Treat every customer with reverence, and make sure your employees are fully prepared to answer questions about your goods, services and policies. Everyone wants to be treated with respect. Do this well, and customers will look for your website — and further cement your online authority — the next time they need help.

4. Seek Positive Reviews From Customers

Did you know 88 percent of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decisions? Or that more than half of young adults ages 18 to 34 trust online reviews more than friends and family? We could go on and on, but the point is this — businesses backed by positive online reviews are much more likely to be searched for on Google.

SEO Myths vs. Realities in 2016

Search engine optimization is a never-ending game with constantly changing rules — so much so, that eventually old rules become blurred or obsolete. But old habits are hard to break, and many SEO experts are guilty of pressing forward with less-effective strategies.

Link building? What are you, a blacksmith?Search engine optimization is a never-ending game with constantly changing rules — so much so, that eventually old rules become blurred or obsolete. But old habits are hard to break, and many SEO experts are guilty of pressing forward with less-effective strategies.

It’s understandable, given the monumental shifts taking place in the SEO world. Just a few years ago, few people imagined that mobile websites, social media and smartphone apps would make such a big impact on the SEO landscape. And yet here we are, and these emerging technologies have already changed the game.

Building a good SEO strategy in 2016 means dispelling myths and accepting new realities. The way people interact with the Internet has evolved, and SEO experts who don’t adjust accordingly will eventually be riding the bench.

Myth: Written content is still the most important kind of content.
Reality: Video content has pulled even with text.

If written content is still more important, then it’s hanging on by a fingernail. The truth is that video content may have already pulled even with text content in terms of overall importance to SEO efforts, and it won’t be long until engaging video content dethrones written content. The simple truth is that video content is far more engaging and is more likely to be shared on forums, on websites and in social media. As search engines shift to reflect the kinds of user experiences that people want — and as social media posts become part of Google’s organic search rankings — the importance of quality video content will be undebatable.

Myth: My desktop site is more important than my mobile site.
Reality: Mobile websites are more important than desktop sites in some industries.

Most people now use the Internet more via mobile devices than desktop PCs. In April 2015, Google unleashed an update known by SEO experts as “Mobilegeddon” that gave priority to websites with suitable mobile versions — so we already know this is one of Google’s top priorities. In the past, it was easy to view mobile sites as optional novelties that accompanied desktop sites. That’s no longer the case. The way people interact with websites changes significantly when viewing the Internet through smartphones and tablets. Google is already embracing this reality, and SEO experts must do the same.

Myth: Building inbound links to my website is no longer important.
Reality: Inbound links never went out of style.

It’s easy to think that, with the growing importance of mobile websites and social media, perhaps the tried-and-true practice of link-building is no longer a necessity. Turns out, that couldn’t be more false. While backlinks aren’t as critical now as they were a few years ago, they’re still highly important and will help your site’s SEO ranking. If anything, the popularity of sharable content on social media has allowed opportunistic SEO experts to expand their networks of backlinks even further.

Myth: Social media marketing isn’t relevant to my SEO efforts.
Reality: Social media marketing is not only important, but it’s becoming vital.

This can’t be said enough — social media is dramatically changing people’s relationships with the Internet. An increasing number of people use Facebook and Twitter as their jumping-off points to other types of content. If you impress people on social media with engaging articles, videos or infographics, the result could be scores of new links being pointed back at your website. More links and more traffic means a better SEO ranking.

Also, Google now has a contract with Twitter to display tweets in the search rankings. Google is also indexing Facebook pages — this started last year — and it’s not uncommon for Facebook pages to be returned as search results to people’s queries. Going forward, social media marketing is only going to become more entwined with winning SEO strategies.