Having internal links means that users and search engines will be able to see more of your website than just the page they arrived on, without them, not many people would see more than just the homepage. It seems simple but it is often done incorrectly and there are some best practices to consider when reviewing your internal linking and how your website is structured. Today we’re going to look at how your internal links should be setup and where they should be.
What Is Internal Link Hierarchy?
When reviewing your internal linking, a good rule of thumb is that all important information should be no more than three or four clicks away from your homepage. This way it is easy for both users and search engine bots to find the high quality content quickly. For the best version of your website; look at where you need people to go and what information they really need to see, then review how the user would get there and adjust accordingly. If the information is 10 clicks deep, don’t be surprised if it isn’t getting many views.
Category pages are useful because they set a structure to the website navigation and help the user filter to the type of content they’re looking for faster, rather than clicking and scrolling until they find what they are looking for or their patience runs out. The category pages will have more traffic but will target more generic keywords, product pages will target specific (longtail) keywords but typically will have less traffic. It’s important to link to the category pages from the homepage because they will cater to a broader audience, from there people will be able to find the more specific pages or products they’re looking for.
Sidenote: don’t rely on your footer providing the right links for the user, not many visit the very bottom of the page unless they are looking for something specific like contact details or legal information.
What Is The Best Internal Link?
An internal link can be broken down into two parts; the destination URL and the anchor text. The destination URL is straightforward enough; it’s where the link will take the user, preferably a useful and relevant internal link that will help the user more or help them convert on the website. The anchor text is the wording used to describe where the user is going. For example, this blog on how to get inbound links, will give you a guide on what to look for when collecting external links. The anchor text needs to describe where the user is going, it needs to be the main keyword focus of the page you’re linking to so you can tell the user and the search exactly where they are going and what to expect. Additionally; if you use multiple internal links from the same page to the same destination page, Google will only consider the first link, so make sure to use your internal linking wisely and efficiently.
There is a possible third extra part to an internal link and that is creating a nofollow link, a link that we tell Google not to consider when crawling a website. Users cannot see that a link is nofollow so this is exclusively information for the bots crawling the website. However, when using a nofollow link, you are telling Google and the other search engines that you do not trust the destination URL aka your own website – not a good sign. Never use a nofollow link to try to direct Google on what internal link to use as it will always consider the first link of each destination the most important on the page, so avoid using nofollow linking entirely.
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In conclusion; structure your website links by category > subcategory >product page / article and your users and bots should be happy. When adding internal links, think about what is best for the user and prioritise quality over quantity. Finally; avoid using nofollow for internal links, keep the quality link juice flowing!
If you have a question about internal linking or want our team to take a look at your website structure, get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to help.