Internal Linking Tactics

Oct 7, 2008 - 11:47 am 7 by
Filed Under SMX East 2008

This session looks at how to leverage linking from within your own site to maximize your rankings in search.

Why even care about your internal linking? Because you can help yourself with your own site, so why waste one of the easiest link building opportunities out there. Using nofollow and other techniques for "PageRank sculpting" has risen in awareness over the past year. It’s even been recommended by Google. How does it work, when do you want to do it, and is it worth the time? Techniques and case studies will be shown. Don’t forget the anchor text. What you say in your links can matter! And saying it in a variety of different ways might be better than using the same exact words over and over. Tips and advice about writing for internal links. Don’t forget the humans, when it comes to internal linking. You still need to have links showing in a way that benefits your human visitors. Meanwhile, you might have to convince the humans in your IT department, upper management or other stakeholders about why recommended internal link tactics deserve support.

Moderator: Detlev Johnson, CEO, SearchReturn


Adam Audette, President, AudetteMedia, Inc Eric Enge, President, Stone Temple Consulting Corporation Anton E. Konikoff, Founder/CEO, Acronym Media Leslie Rohde, Founder, Windrose Software

Leslie Rohde is up first and says that internal linking is the first place to start. He asks the audience how many people have small companies (<12 employees) or if they're monetizing their site to gauge interest.

Internal linking is awesome because you control it. You control your own pages and you control your own links. Internal linking focuses the effects of external links. He tells people that good ranking starts at home.

Ranking is simple, but that doesn't mean it's easy. 70% of ranking comes from 3 factors - on page factors, link reputation effect, and PageRank.

Briefly, he describes the details about writing your page correctly: - Title includes keywords for ranking and persuasion for humans - Meta description sells the click - Body copy engages the human visitor Link reputation - he says that links speak louder than pages. Think about Google BOmbing - click here, privacy policy, home, etc. However, is your home page about "home?" You should tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Fragmented reputation - "partial" truth, common nav bar issues, complete title help, and footer links. He explains this phenomenon by looking at links on Home Depot. If you link to "cooking," chances are you're not talking about cooking -- you're talking about cooking appliances.

Content as investment: pages cost money, pages create PageRank (not LinkRank! - pages cost you money). PageRank helps ranking. Ranking creates ongoing traffic. It's a one time cost that creates residual benefit.

He talks about PageRank sculpting with an illustration. Which pages? Ranking takes focus. Use lasers, not floodlights. Choose your focus - not all searches are created equal. Competition and conversion and lifetime customer value are important.

What can you do with PageRank sculpting? Without going into detail, he talks about the home page push and how there's all this linkage going from the home page. The mid tier push focuses on category.

Next up is Eric Enge who talks about PageRank sculpting

He talks about the robots.txt and says he doesn't recommend it as the major tool but that it can be utilized in PR sculpting.

He shows a slide called noindex illustrated (obviously, he has an illustration) and then shows some syntax. He also shows a case study with a duplicate content scenario: he noindexed pages so that the crawler can find and remove pages. You can remove this by using the URL removal tool in webmaster tools. Don't use Robots.txt because if someone links to the page, you want to pass the link juice even though you don't want it indexed.

He explains that it can also be used for content syndication.

He also describes PageRank sculpting - you may want to nofollow those site links like "about us" and "Advertise with us."

One more - https and https dupe content. The problem is that it has relative links in it versus absolute links. A lot of sites have this problem. You can resolve this in a few ways. You can make the links absolute but in this cae he actually recommends https robots.txt file and nofollow the links to the https page.

Adam Audette is next. He says that text links are good - you need to watch those image links. Just make sure there are text link options elsewhere on the page or with the image.

He shows a small 150 page site that has flash and images but not many good text links. (You can use the web developer toolbar and click on "view link information.")

Contextual links rule - they have semantic meaning!

Anchor text is very important but it's not a magic solution. One of the things that we see is that people point to content pages with this anchor text. It's not enough to put keywords in the anchor text. The pages need to relevant and high quality. If they happen, anchor text can be another helpful factor.

As sites grow, anchor text influence increases.

Links are action points for SEO *and* for people. Click here is a pretty good call to action! Think of ways to use that efficiently.

Mix it up - anchor text should vary!

Link consistently - standardize internal links

Link/Page relations: as he said before, link text should match the page it targets and there should be relevant keywords that surround the links.

Are your pages important? Pages without a lot of links pass a signal.

Link thresholds: general advice is that you should have 100-150 links max. It's actually case by case. More links can mean less usability.

Related link structures - you can do this with big sites. Use related linking to flatten a site. does a really nice job of using related links on their pages. They also use breadcrumbs which is important too.

- Tag pages - have users tag pages of manually build. Create tag categories and add RSS feeds. does a great job at this.

Anton is up next and he talks about how linking has raised pagerank and increaed the amount of visitors - he changed the navigation to text navigation from images.

Practical internal linking - can you prove that it will work? Is it worth the time and resources? How do we balance the user experience?

Internal linkng - success measurement. It's difficult to isolate net impact on rankins. Was it nofollow or an anchor text change? Maybe it was an external linking? Another metric set is indexing levels - getting pages indexed and crawled frequently. Check crawl patterns and click through rates on links.

Do an internal page audit Before you change links or anchor text, consider the click distribution, page abandon rates, user click paths, and paths to conversion.


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