The SEO quagmire is complex at the best of times with a myriad of elements to manage. But one of the easiest to control and most often forgotten is a sites’ internal linking strategy.
Jeffrey Smith over at SEO Web Design put together a useful internal link checklist in his recent post “Internal Links – Are You Making the Most of Yours?“. While it covers slightly more than just optimizing “internal links”, its all valuable site based optimization know-how.
I’ve summarized these best practice strategies below (non internal linking strategies are denoted with NLS), but for the complete unabbreviated rundown ‘ check out Jeffrey’s article.
1. Keep Internal Links Absolute.
Absolute Link simply means – use full URLs for your links. Rather than “/yourpage.html” use “http://www.yourdomain/yourpage.html”.
- Absolutes help pages pull each other up in the rankings as they get older.
- If the page gets scraped, you ensure copied links remain in tact and provide link value back to your web pages.
2. Limit Your Link Juice Leaks.
If you think of “link juice” as a limited commodity per web page, you’ll understand that the more external links you have per page – the more ways your link juice can leak.
Limit your external links so you can focus where this link value is being directed. Jeffery recommends no more than 10 external links per page.
3. The Anchor Text
We’ve said this time and time again. The text in your links is key, even with internal linking – so stay focused on your target keywords and phrases with your anchor text.
4. Keep Your Keyword Phrase Targeting Focused.
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to get hundreds of top 10 rankings from one page. Focus on just a few keyword phrases per page and really target them in your SEO efforts. Any additional top rankings are a bonus.
5. Contextual Linking Counts Internally
Don’t just rely on navigation and isolated site links to connect your internal pages. If you place links within web page copy – it provides more relevance and internal value to the link – just as it does with external inbound links.
6. Put Your Pages on a Diet (NLS)
Not directly related to internal links – but make sure your pages are lean (page size). Pages under 20Kb are optimal (including images), so place your overweight pages on a diet to help bolster their rank-ability. Start with your images, they are usually the main culprits for page size.
7. Clean Out Your Code (NLS)
Search engine spiders prefer uncluttered website code. When the key is getting them to index the relevant content, you don’t want them having to wade through all the programming code to find your keyword rich copy and tags.
8. Create Focus for the Reader (NLS)
Considering you’re now focusing on a handful of keywords (see point 4 above) – make sure they are reflected in your H Tags (page titles) and a few times on the page. This will make readers immediately feel like the page is relevant to the search they just conducted to find your content.
9. Power Up on New Pages
If you’re looking to launch a new page or give an existing page a ranking boost – ensure your top 5 internal pages are sending valuable link juice to it. This will give it a vital rank boost in the search results.
10. Cleanse and Realign (NLS)
As time goes on, older pages often need to be reviewed and cleansed/realigned with current SEO strategies – be that to remove keyword competition, improve relevance, or remove off topic exposure. Remember SEO is a holistic process – so remember to regularly review all your key web pages.
Above is a healthy checklist to start your internal linking and general on page SEO review. For more information on the strategies with some handy tips – visit the “Internal Links – Are You Making the Most of Yours?” post.