Why Internal Linking is Essential and What to Do About it
These days, SEO is becoming an incredibly complex profession. You can get away with simply having back linking done, which is still the crux of any SEO strategy. But, SEO is growing more and more beyond that. To really be successful on a long-term basis, you should also have high quality content your audience enjoys, a social media presence, and decent on-page SEO (here’s a link for your reference).
On-page SEO has several sub-factors to pay attention to: keyword density/placement, keyword usage in the title, content interesting to your visitors, and internal linking. Today, I’d like to expand a little bit on the topic of internal linking.
What Internal Linking Used to do for your Site
Back in 2007, Google used to allow this to factor more significantly in your search engine rankings. If you created links between subdirectories and subdomains on your site, Google would see that as linking between two different sites. If you don’t know what a subdirectory is, it’s a directory under the main directory of your site. For example, it would be http://www.example.com/subdirectory, and you could increase your rankings by linking from http://www.example.com/subdirectory1 to http://www.example.com/subdirectory2. The same idea applied to subdomains.
Doesn’t it seem a little weird that Google would increase your rankings just because you did this? At some point, Google thought so too, so this tactic doesn’t increase your rankings anymore. Some people still claim Google likes this, but the extent to which it does is so small it’s not worth your time and effort.
What to do about Internal Linking Now
Of course, Google is a much different beast here in 2012 than it was in 2007. But, internal linking still isn’t that complex of an idea to understand. If you’re going to do anything, then here are the couple things worth your time and effort
- Make sure your keywords appear in the URL of your subdirectories/subdomains
- Develop a web of internal links
If you’re running a blog and you’ve optimized your titles, then this should already be done. If you’re running an e-commerce site, make sure the format includes those keywords in the URLs. Hopefully you have a tool that automates the URL formatting!
In regard to internal linking structure, you can use a plugin for WordPress called YARPP (Yet Another Related Posts Plugin). There’s actually many plugins that perform the same function, but YARPP also automatically creates links at the bottom of your posts to other related posts. It also has a cool feature that lets you adjust how related other posts are, so you can send people to what really is the most relevant to their interests.
One warning though: If you want a site with a more professional/corporate feel, YARPP’s multiple links definitely give your site a smaller/personalized feel. A small, personalized feel generally sells better to people online, but it’s not for every company. For companies who want to maintain that feel, add a manual call-to-action at the bottom of your page by saying something like, “If you enjoyed this article, then you’ll also like (article name).”
Why Should You Care about Internal Linking Structure?
So here’s the important information you’ll really want to know. Internal linking structure does the following:
- Reduces bounce rate (the number of visitors that visit one page on your site and leave)
- Increases visitor on-site team
- May help slightly with SEO
Points #1 and #2 are really the key. The fewer people that bounce and the more they stay on your site, the more likely it will be that they eventually become your customer!
Did you find this article helpful? If so, you might also like Performing Keyword Research 101: The Basics
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