It is no secret that link building is critical to SEO success. However, some people often ignore internal links because they are just not aware of their SEO benefits. To most do-it-yourselfers (DiY), link building for SEO means external or inbound or backlinks. These are links that originate from another site and point to a page on your domain.
Don’t underestimate the SEO power of internal linking. They are not only great for increasing the number of pages indexed by Google but also help you target a larger number of keywords, especially long tail keywords. The number of site pages indexed by Google has a direct impact on your online lead generation. For every 50 to 100 pages indexed by Google, expect double-digit growth in the number of leads. (Read my earlier post, B2B Lead Generation Using a Business Blog).
The best news is that building internal links is completely in your control.
What are internal links?
An internal link is a hyperlink in a web page that is a reference to another section of the same page or to another web page that is part of the same website or domain. Here is an example of an internal link from a valve manufacturer’s website.
“Our 390 Series Butterfly Valves are engineered for long-life because the flow stream never touches the valve body.”
The HTML code for that internal link looks like this:
<a href=”../bflyvlvs/390bflyvlvs_ovh.htm”>390 Series Butterfly Valves</a>
In the above example, the “a href” tag is the start of the internal link, followed by the reference (location) of the internal page. The words “390 Series Butterfly Valves” between the opening and the closing of the link tag </a> are visible to human readers. They are collectively known as the anchor text. Pay close attention to anchor texts because that’s how you target different keywords and phrases with internal linking.
Internal linking and search page indexing
An illustration here is worth a thousand words…
In the above example, the schematic on the left shows how Google and other search engines bots will crawl your home page and index internal pages. On the right is a case of bad internal linking where the internal pages may be invisible to search engines even though you may have spent considerable time and effort optimizing them.
How deep you go with internal linking does make a difference. The rule of thumb is to have the minimum number of links between the home page and any internal page. This makes a difference because it allows link juice (ranking power) to flow throughout the site, which in turn increases the ranking potential for each internal page.
Types of internal links
There are three types of internal links that will help your SEO efforts. They are:
- Navigation text links
- Contextual (inline) text links
- Sidebar/Footer text links
IMO, contextual or inline internal links are the best for on-page SEO. Navigation text links have lost some of their earlier allure because of a recent Google algorithm change. (See my post, 10 New Google Algorithm Changes Announced).
There are some internal links that will be ignored by search engine bots.
- Links within submission forms
- Links that are found only by using a site search option
- Links or pages that are excluded or blocked using a robots.txt file
- Links that have the rel=”nofollow” tag
Use Google’s free Webmaster Tool to check your internal linking and identify trouble spots that you may need to fix.
This post should give you a head start on building your own internal links and gaining powerful SEO benefits.