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How to Really Make Your Internal Links Work Hard For You

External hyperlinks are great for SEO, but it’s the internal variety that you can manipulate to your heart’s content and optimise for search engines. Given this level of control you have over your own links, are you sure they are working as hard as they can be for you? If they aren’t complying to the advice below, then chances are they are slacking and need to be given 100 push-ups right now!

Keywords in Anchor Text

This might seem like an obvious one for some people, but you would be amazed just how many sites don’t think to include keywords in their internal links. This one of the major factors that search engines look at when trying to determine what a page is all about, so as long as you are not compromising on usability, you should get those keywords in your links. For example, let’s say you have a site offering corporate hospitality that covers all the major sporting events. Rather than link to the Superbowl page with the text “Superbowl”, it would probably be much better for you to use the term “Superbowl hospitality”, or “Superbowl corporate hospitality”. Don’t go crazy though and starting linking to your homepage using the term “corporate hospitality events” or “premium client entertaining” etc, as this will just start to confuse users.

Important Links Moved Up The Source Order

Many people don’t think to move their most important internal links up the order in the source code. Search engines tend to crawl the links at the top of the page first, so it stands to reason that the first elements should be the most important ones. Let’s say for example your category page links appear in the source code below your ‘about us’, ‘contact us’, ‘RSS’, ‘settings’ links etc. Whist these may be important to users, it is unlikely you want to pass power to these pages for ranking purposes and so you can move them down the source order. There is no need to change the look of the page, just use JavaScript to move elements about. 

Text Links Above Images

Tying into the idea above, when linking out to the same place twice or more from a single page, always put your most valuable link first in the source order, as this will be one search engines pay attention to. By ‘most valuable’ I mean most search engine friendly, which is often a key-worded text link. This is most often a problem for ecommerce sites as displayed by the product screen shot below.

Here there are 3 links all going to the same product page. First is the image link, second the product title link and third the price also links to the product page. On this occasion the image link appears first in the source code and is likely to be the one that search engines crawl. However, we really want search engines to look at the keywords in the product title text link, so it would be more beneficial to move this above the image link in the source code.

Links Limited to Around 100 Per Page

It is has been stated in the Google Webmaster guidelines for a long time now that you should limited the amount of links (internal or external) to around 100 per page. The reasoning for this suggestion has changed a little however since it first appeared in the guidelines. Originally, Google’s crawlers could only index around 100k of a webpage, which they roughly equated would be around 100 links. However, as Google has become more power they can index far greater amounts of data.

The argument they give for still including the 100 link rule in their suggestions is a usability one. They say that people don’t like pages full of links and it is more ‘user-friendly’ to break the links up into separate pages. There is however clear SEO benefits to keeping the number relatively low as otherwise the link power of the page will be diluted too much. Roughly speaking, the link juice of a page gets divided by the number of links heading out from it. Therefore, if you have 1000 links on page, each of those linked to pages will receive very little (relative) power indeed. It is usually advisable to try and spread links over more pages or better yet categorize them onto strong, stand-alone pages to improve user and search engine friendliness.

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