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Top Five Internal Linking Tactics To Get Top Google Rankings

Aug 12, 2008
If you're a website owner and are not following these five tactics for correctly linking your website together then you're losing Google traffic as you read this. Internal linking is the links on your website that point to other pages within your same website. External linking is when you link to another website.

There are things you can do when developing or re-working your internal linking structure. If you carry out the following tactics, you're going to achieve two things. First, you'll make your website better from a user's perspective. Second, you'll rank better in Google. And it's no coincidence that Google rewards you for doing things that make the website user's experience easier and better. In fact, the most important thing I can recommend is that you create, design and link your website together is a way that benefits the visitor first. Your visitors are most important, not Google rankings.

And remember, links to your site (whether from other sites or from pages within your own site) help your rankings.

1) Add links in your navigation or footer as text links to all your important pages and main sections.
This is a very easy and an extremely effective tactic that not all sites do, and even less do for maximum results. This is the first thing I look for when reviewing a website for a client. Unfortunately, sometimes artsy Web designers add cool buttons, which are images, to all the main sections of the site, but neglect to include text links as well. Or a programmer decides to make the website's navigation a dynamic drop down menu in DHTML or JavaScript but forget to include text links to the same pages represented in the menus. Search engines cannot follow image links or links created in JavaScript, they can only follow simple text links, so be sure you add them to your site as well.

So if you want search engines to visit and index (or record) ALL your website's pages, be sure there are text links pointing to all the main sections of your site and to all your important pages.

2) Use of the rel="nofollow" HTML tag.
This is fairly simple. Google created this tag which tells them NOT to count the link in their search engine ranking algorithm when used on a link. There's debate that maybe Google does count them a little, or will some day in the future. But for now, this tag does greatly decrease a link's value in Google's eyes. Therefore, consider using this tag on some of your links within your site. For example, let's say you have a homepage and then create two inner pages, and that's the extent of the site. Let's further say that you add a link to both pages on your homepage.

If your homepage has some external links pointing to it, then it has some value in regards to Google's ranking system. When you link to each of your two new pages within your site from your homepage, each page gets only 50% of the value the homepage has. (This is all measured in Page Rank). Let's then say that your first inner page is the one you want to rank well in the Google, but you don't care if your second inner page even gets found by Google or ranked. You could add the nofollow tag to the second link on your homepage, thereby giving the first inner page 100% of the homepage's value.

Think of the implications. Imagine if you had a website with hundreds or thousands of pages and used the nofollow tag throughout. To understand how to implement this tag is, do a search in Google such as "how to add a nofollow tag to link".

Finally, if you have pages such as a privacy page, terms page, checkout pages or contact pages that you don't care if they rank well in Google, be sure to use the nofollow tag when creating internal links to these pages.

3) Use descriptive & different phrases to point to the same inner page
The words that are in the text of a link (also known as the anchor text) affect your search engine rankings. For example, the anchor text in the two links above is "Your Website". If enough of these links that were on quality and valuable sites, including your own website's inner pages, pointed to the same page, it would eventually rank well in Google when someone searches for the phrase "your website".

Therefore, be sure to make the anchor text in all your internal links the phrases you want the pages to be found for in Google.

Going back to the number 1 tactic above, you would be far better off making the anchor text in all your footer links as descriptive as possible. If you want to rank well in Google for "affordable Red widgets" then make the anchor text "affordable Red widgets".

Finally, vary your anchor text when pointing to the same page within your website. For instance, on some of your pages you could link to your Red Widgets page with the anchor text of "Red widgets", then on other pages link to it using "affordable Red widgets" and then maybe use "widgets that are Red". This allows you to get the page ranked for multiple terms and helps the user since you're being descriptive and making your anchor text better match the content of the page it's on.

4) Make links in your content
If you have text on your site, make some of the words within the text links that point to other pages within your website. For instance, if you have an article about Red widgets, or a page that describes how great your Red widgets are, make the first or second occurrence of the phrase "Red widgets" in the text a link that points to your Red Widgets page.

5) Create breadcrumbs at the top of every page
This looks something like this: Home - Products - Red Widgets
Each of words between the hyphens (which are also often greater-than signs) above should be links to their corresponding pages within the site. This helps your website visitors know where they are in relation to the rest of the site. It helps orientate site visitors. Anything you can do that helps your visitors' experience is something you ought to consider doing. This also helps search engines spider your website more easily as well. Finally, making breadcrumbs creates more internal links to your pages, thus helping your rankings as well.

By following these top five internal linking tactics, you'll be far ahead of the competition, you'll rank better in Google and other search engines and you'll be making your website visitors' lives easier.
About the Author
Jason O'Connor is the owner of Oak Web Works, LLC (http://www.oakwebworks.com), a company that specializes in Web marketing, search engine marketing, Web strategy and Web design.
mailto: jason@oakwebworks.com
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