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How to improve search engine rankings through internal links

How to improve search engine rankings through internal links
Links within your website that point to the same domain, whether that’s another page or resource, are internal links. These are scrutinised by search engines when they crawl your website. The bottom line is: if you get your internal linking strategy right, it’ll boost your rankings.

Creating internal links between pages improves your user experience and journey, and makes it more likely that users will stay on the website and keep visiting different areas. Not only this, but they establish a hierarchy within the website that search engines can see, and help spread ranking power (or link juice). Before working on your internal linking strategy, ensure that the structure and hierarchy of the website are correct first.

Search engines crawl your website by sending spiders to browse the pathways to find all of the pages. Even today, many websites on the internet make the critical mistake of hiding their main navigation in a way which stops search engines from seeing it – this hinders their ability to get pages listed in. If pages aren’t linked to, they can be the best optimised pages within the website but they won’t rank.

There is, however, a such thing as too many internal links. When search engine spiders crawl the website, they only stay for a short period of time, and only crawl a maximum number of 150 links per page. They follow every link from your homepage, and then flow down the hierarchy. If you’ve got too many links, you’ll quickly use up your crawl budget and the spiders won’t go any deeper. For these reasons, you’ve got to get it spot on.

Here are some tips to help improve your rankings:

  • Use the minimum amount of links possible from the homepage to any given page. This allows ranking power (or link juice) to flow throughout the site, and in turn increases the ranking potential for each page. Only link to key pages from your homepage.
  • Structure your URLs in clear hierarchy using top-level pages and sub-pages, categories and sub-categories.
  • Create an excellent user journey by linking to relevant (and only relevant) pages from other pages.
  • Describe your page well within the visible anchor text in the link.
  • Don’t have more than 150 links on any page.

Page not ranking? Here are a few reasons it might not be:

  • If your page is hidden behind a form, a spider will not fill it in to see where it ends up.
  • Spiders don’t fill in search fields, so if you need to search for your content it’ll appear as hidden.
  • Generally building links in Javascript makes them uncrawlable or devalued – stick to HTML.
  • Links embedded inside Flash, Java and other plug-ins are inaccessible to search engines.
  • Check your robots.txt file and meta tags to ensure you’re not blocking spiders.
  • I-Frames aren’t crawlable and are ignored.

Finally, have you got a few links that you don’t want to pass on your ranking power to? Use rel=”nofollow” on any internal or external link to tell a search engine to ignore it.

If you need any help with your internal linking strategy, or wish to discuss search engine optimisation with our specialists, give us a call on 0800 084 3086.

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