How to Improving Your Internal Linking

Mark Williams-Cook, Maret Reutelingsperger and Mike Stepney were discussing internal linking and content structure last week on Tea Time SEO, giving us great tips for on site optimisation. You can re-watch the talk any time on our YouTube channel or have a look at the presentation on slideshare. Mark, Digital Marketing Director at Candour has further elaborated on his tips on how nternal linking plays a huge part in how well individual pages will rank in the SERPs. Read his post below:

How Internal Linking Improves Your Visibility in the SERPs

1. Separating ‘evergreen’ and ‘news’ content

One of the most common structure and internal linking mistakes we see if that all content just gets put into ‘the blog’.

By their nature, blogs are usually ordered chronologically, meaning the latest posts are at the ‘top’ and as older content ages, it falls deeper down into pagination or rabbit holes of archive pages. This means these individual posts will get fewer internal links, from increasingly less important pages, mimicking the fact they are actually less likely to be discovered by real users.

The result is that as content ages, they will, on average, become less visible. This makes complete sense for time-sensitive content such as company news, which itself becomes naturally less important and interesting overtime.

However, it doesn’t make so much sense for content that is ‘evergreen’, meaning that its relevance and importance does not particularly degrade with age. For instance, if you had a site selling car parts and you wrote a guide on “how to de-ice your car”, this is not information that is going to ‘degrade’ overtime in the same way as company news. Therefore, a guide on how to de-ice your car is going to be as relevant now as it is in 2 years time, even if it needs a little updating.

Time-sensitiveNon time-sensitive (evergreen)
Company hiresHow to de-ice a car 
New product launchWhat is a safe stopping distance?
Opening new branchBest car security systems

Creating pillar/hub pages

With your evergreen content identified, you want to make it easily discoverable in the long-term to your site visitors. Usually, individual articles will be targeting longtail or very clear intent terms, such as “how to de-ice a car”.

A good strategy is to use ‘pillar’ or ‘hub’ pages that cover broader intent and higher search volume terms. In this example, you might find that content such as “how to de-ice” a car comes under the umbrella search term of “car maintenance”, which itself is a fairly broad intent term.

All of these pages can be linked to from a pillar guide called “The ultimate guide to car maintenance”, which itself will be a large piece of content giving an overview of what is involved in car maintenance and linking off to the specific articles, such as the how to de-ice a car guide.

Pillar pages are great for users as they curate and give context to all of the smaller articles and as an added bonus of these large content pieces is they tend to be a magnet for links, which further boosts all of your rankings.

2. Internal anchor text – optimise for internal linking

Optimised internal anchor text isn’t just good for search engines, it really helps users too. As web users, we’re trained to look for links and having anchor text such as “click here” slows down our web experience, as we then need to read the surrounding context to look for hints as to where that link may lead us.

If the link says “car maintenance guide”, then we know exactly where we are going to end up.

Anchor text in a post-Penguin world

Optimising anchor text on backlinks was an old SEO tactic that worked very well and contributed heavily to Google-bombing. There is wariness around “over-optimising” anchor text now, as it certainly seemed to be one of the triggers that contributed to sites getting hit by the Penguin update.

This isn’t something that needs to be on your mind with internal linking, though. Google have stated you can pretty much do what you like with them!

You can give users the best experience and improve your search visibility by:

  1. Your anchor text is descriptive of the page you’re linking to
  2. You are consistently linking to the canonical version of a page that is related to the anchor text
  3. Internal teams are all brief on this and have a guide as to where they should be linking!

Sitebulb’s Link Explorer tool

Recently, Sitebulb released a new “Link Explorer” tool which is fantastic for this job. Using this tool you can:

1. View incoming anchor text by URL

Using Link Explorer you can search by site URL. Start with your key pages that are aiming to rank and filter to these URLs. This enables you to quickly see what kind of anchor text is being used to link internally. Identify any pages with unhelpful anchor text such as “click here” and update them

2. View link URLs by anchor text

Turning this on its head, you can view links by anchor text. The goal here to make sure that you are consistently linking to the “correct” page and not giving search engines and users mixed signals about where they should be going. Search for your keywords in the anchor text and ensure links are pointing where they should be.

The process to follow:

  1. Immediate plan to tackle “click here” type anchor text
  2. Prioritising systematic or side-wide occurrences
  3. Review anchors to key pages
  4. Spot check by anchor text
  5. Brief content team / log where links should be going

Thanks Mark for your ideas. If you are interested in more make sure to sign up to Tea Time SEO and our YouTube channel for the latest news around SEO!If you want to learn more about SEO, you can check out our other speakers who spoke that week including Sarah Marks’s tips on Email marketing or Marco Bonomo’s insight into Google for Jobs.

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/@cibaochua

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