Even if you weren’t purposefully trying to have an internal linking strategy, you probably created one. You choose a specific way to link the pages of content on your site together using one or all of the following methods: pictures, buttons, Flash, and text to name just a few. This strategy you have implemented is important to search engine optimization; it not only helps to make your site easier to navigate (whether you be a search engine spider or a human being), but also improves the relevancy of pages through the eyes of a search engine. To have an effective internal linking strategy and harness the power of relevancy, you need to follow a few simple rules.
Text Links and their Anchors
First, of the four limited methods I mentioned above, text links the best. Linking with pictures, buttons, or Flash can be useful in grabbing the emotion of a visitor, if used properly, but can’t context to a search engine like a text link can. The words in your anchor text and the words immediately surrounding your link play a part in how relevant the linked page is to those words. Explaining what you’re linking to in the link or around the link helps the search engine and visitor know exactly what they are about to see. Amber has written a great post regarding the details of internal linking and anchor text.
Calls to Action in Links and the Human Need
If you’re worried about getting visitors to click your links, use an appropriate call to action before, within, or after your link. Don’t try to overdo the linking, too. This can be an eye-sore for users and search engines can also notice a spammy quality to links. Using the anchor text “hot dog vendor” fifteen times on a page of 300 words can be a bit much. Consider mixing on the words and wording to catch relevancy for other search phrases. Finding a balance with all of these aspects can make your site appear as if you were not even trying to rank higher in search engines, while having great SEO success.
Passing the Page Relevancy Through Linking
Having a URL standard for your internal linking can make your efforts all that much more potent. By URL standard, I mean deciding on using specific URL rules from start to finish. For example, at the base-level using both http://hotdogcartel.com and http://www.hotdogcartel.com can split the relevancy, as the search engines see these as two different pages. Additionally, using http://www.hotdogcartel.com/locations/index.html and http://www.hotdogcartel.com/locations/ simultaneously splits the relevancy for the same reason as above. Include “www” or not, include index.html or not; just be sure it is consistent across the site from the beginning of the URL to the end. This will be sure to pass all available relevancy in your site to a single page (in the search engines eyes) and give you the most benefit.
Square-Peg, Round-Hole Internal Linking
Finally, while many people would like to control the relevancy for some pages, you often need to create anchor text within the guidelines of what your page actually pertains to. Trying to pass “franchise” relevancy to your page http://www.hotdogcartel.com/locations/ if you have no content regarding franchises won’t work most likely. Building your internal linking around what content you already have is your best bet for effectiveness. Joe has posted in the past regarding linking within content silos and how it can benefit your site.