Internal linking is a key aspect of search engine optimization and is one of the aspects of SEO that can be directly controlled by you.
What is Internal Linking?
Internal linking refers to links that direct website visitors to another page of your website.
Take this flagrant internal link as an example: The following article is about the Google Wonder Wheel.
The term “Google Wonder Wheel” contains hypertext, and if clicked on you will be directed to another page within this blog. Because the link directs you to a page within this blog, it is considered an internal link.
This is not the same as one way link building, which is a technique to gain external links – links from other websites to your website.
Internal linking is a great way to increase a page’s anchor text links, which tell search engines what your page is about and help increase that page’s ranking for specific terms. In the previous example, ‘Google Wonder Wheel’ is the anchor text.
How is Internal Linking Beneficial?
Internal linking is designed to help website visitors easily navigate through your site, finding relevant information as they learn more about your product or services. A well designed internal linking structure flows naturally so that relevant pages are linked to other relevant pages.
Internal linking also serves to pass ‘link juice’ from one page to another. Link juice refers abstractly to the amount of external links coming into your site and the ‘power’ of these links. Links from pages with higher page ranks are considered to have more link juice. Although it is an arbitrary term, meaning no definite value can be assigned to a pages ‘link juice’, it can be explained in the following equation: Link Juice / # of links = amount of link juice passed through links. For example:
Lets say a page has an arbitrary link juice amount of 100
If that page has 10 links: 100 / 10 = 10
10 ‘points’ of link juice will be passed to each page
If that page has 100 links: 100/100 = 1
1 point of link juice will be passed to each page
The trick to internal linking is developing a specific architecture for your site. I prefer a 3 tiered system.
- Tier 1: Your index page – the main page of your site, which should have the most link juice.
- Tier 2: Pages optimized for competitive keyword phrases.
- Tier 3: Pages optimized for less-competitive keyword phrases.
Most pages should link to your Tier 1 page. Tier 1 pages should link to Tier 2 pages. Tier 2 pages should link to Tier 1, 2, and 3 pages. Tier 3 pages should link to Tier 1, 2, and 3 pages.
Juicing a Page
If you’d like to have a page indexed or you’d like to stress a particular keyword phrase, you should link a page directly from Tier 1. The trick is to limit the amount of links leaving your main page, so that you retain the most amount of link juice.
I recommend linking out to no more than 5 web pages per page (this does not include link bars that are part of your site’s template. It’s a good idea to limit the number of links to 3 initially, so that you can link to new web pages as your site continues to grow.
Geoffrey Hoesch is a owner of Dragonfly SEO, a Baltimore SEO company.