These four strategies will be released as individual posts.
In our first three link building principles, we’ve covered how being informative, utilizing your connections, and lending a helping hand can all lead to links. Now we’ll dive into how our fourth link building principle can increase your website’s performance.
It’s been called “One of the most neglected link building strategies in SEO.” It’s also one of the easiest to implement, as you don’t have to reach out to any other sites or submit boring directory forms for hours. What is this long-neglected link building strategy?
Principle #4: Internal Linking
Internal link building can greatly increase organic rankings as it makes your site more navigable and allows search engines to better understand the content on your site. A good internal linking strategy has three main components; crawlability, authority, and usability.
Have you ever written a great piece of content or published a new page highlighting all of the great benefits your company offers, just to have no one visit the page? It could be because that page was never crawled by search engines, and therefore is not able to be found in organic searches. With a thorough internal link building campaign, you’ll sleep soundly knowing that all of the pages on your site are indexed by search engines.
Google crawls pages in two ways:
1) they already knew about the page and have crawled them before, or
2) by discovering that new page by following a link from a known page to it.
If you create and publish your new page, but don’t link to it from anywhere on your website, Google is never going to find that new piece of content, no matter how well it’s written. Linking from one page to another is also a great way to show Google that those pages are related and share an informational relationship, giving Google more information on what both pages are about. You may have noticed that at the beginning of this article, we linked to the other link building strategies in the series, allowing you and Google to know that there are other articles on the topic of link building that may be worth checking out.
All of those great new pages you’re publishing don’t have the same authority as the older, more popular pages on your site, like your homepage. When a page gets lots of good external links to it, it builds up an amount of trust and page authority with Google. This “page authority” is one of the factors that Google uses when it comes to displaying results on search pages. By linking from a page with more authority to a newer page with less authority, you can pass that authority from one page to another. This is a great way to spread the authority your website has over many pages, allowing more pages to rank organically than if they weren’t internally linked together.
Finally, a good internal linking campaign helps your website’s users find other, relevant information similar to the page that they’re currently on. It could be a link to another article on the same topic, or maybe a services page, or a page with a free offer. Anything that helps improve the user experience and increase total time on site, or goal completions.
When it comes to internal links on your site, there are two main types, navigational and contextual. While similar, they vary in style and usage.
Navigational internal links are usually found in the header and footer of the website. They are typically site-wide on every page and are there to direct users around the site and help them find what they are looking for.
Contextual internal links are what you’ve been seeing so far in the article, they’re in the copy of the page and are there to offer more context or additional information that’s relevant to the page the user is currently on.
Does all of this sound great, but you’re not sure where to get started when it comes to implementing an internal link building campaign on your site? Let’s go over some steps to get you started.
The first thing to do is to use your preferred site audit tool and see where things currently stand. You’re looking for reports on what pages can be crawled (and therefore indexed by Google), what that page’s crawl depth is, how many internal links it has, any internal linking issues that may be present, and what pages have the most (and least) page authority.
Now that you have your reports with all of the internal linking information you’ll need, it’s time to figure out what the main hub pages of your site are. These could be the main page for a product category, a locations page for your various physical locations, or generally any page that is important to your customer journey.
A good way to think about it is in terms of what keyword you’re trying to rank for on those pages. Generally, if you’re targeting a more specific, long-tail key phrase, that’s probably not a hub page. But if your page is more top of the funnel and targeting a more broad, diverse key phrase, that’s one of your main hub pages.
Once you have your site’s hub pages, you need to create topic clusters using internal links to connect that main page to any other niche pages that are relevant to it. For example, if you have a main page for all of the services your company provides, then the pages for each specific service will be a part of that topic cluster. This cluster structure can go as far down as needed, to any level of supporting pages that may exist. Again, generally, the more niche a key phrase you’re targeting is on that page, the further down from the main hub page it is.
The last thing to do is make those internal links happen. Link from the hub page to the second level page, and from the second level down to the third, and so on. Using internal links in the body copy of the page should make sense and look natural. You don’t want to just start shoving links throughout your site if it doesn’t make sense for either the user or the crawl bot. Along the way, keep an eye on your site’s top authority pages, does it make sense to link from one of those to another page that doesn’t have as high of an authority? Are they connected and relevant to each other in a topic cluster? Then, link from the higher authority page to the lower, and help that lower authority page start to rank for some keywords, bringing in more site traffic (and hopefully goal completions).
And there you have it, a great way to help boost your website’s organic performance using a backlinking strategy that doesn’t rely on any outside help. Once you put all four of our link building strategies together, you’ll be well on your way to increasing your website traffic through organic performance.
If you have any questions, comments, or insight on link building, reach out to [email protected] and share your thoughts.