Internal link strategies for WordPress websites
Internal links enhance the user experience for visitors by sending a user to other pages deep within your website, often times to provide them with extended information on a specific subject or area of interest. Realistically, your homepage can’t (and shouldn’t) have links to every subject on your blog but with deep linked internal links, your visitors can quickly get to more complex information.
How internal links help your visitors
First and foremost, the purpose of deep linking is to help your visitors find content easier. This happens when a specific subject or phrase on a page is linked to another page on your website. For example, if I was writing a post about improving internal links on a WordPress website, I would choose to hyperlink the word WordPress to another post helping users understand what WordPress was.
How internal links help your search engine optimization
Now that we’re clear that internal links have nothing to do with search engine optimization, and everything to do with helping your audience find the best content on your website, let’s look at exactly how (and why) internal links help your website’s SEO.
Internal links raise your authority
The first thing to understand about your website’s authority is that it’s dependent on all the pages on your website, not just the homepage. So while it’s vital to have a great authority for the homepage, you also want to build the authority for as many of your internal pages as possible. To do that, you need to build back links from both your own pages, and external pages or else these low authority pages will drag down the value of your high authority pages.
Improve search engine’s understanding of your website
Internal links, or deep links, help to improve your website’s overall presence on the web by improving how search engines see your website. It’s important to remember that while intelligent, search engine robots are still simply software applications and they rely on links to locate new content. The goal of your internal links should always be to add value to your target audience, but a remarkable benefit of improving your user experience is that you also improve your websites performance in search engine result pages.
Internal links will raise your visibility
It would be impossible for search engines to find most content on your website without the benefits of deep linking, either from your own website or from incoming external links. The more links to a page, from both your own content, and the external links, the higher that web page will appear in the Google search engine results.
Internal link strategies
Let’s look at a few strategies for building internal links on your own websites and marketing materials, and how these methods can help your business.
If your business is looking to create a specific promotion for an upcoming event, product, or post, you can use the built in WordPress permalink structure to improve your SEO, or you can create a vanity URL with WordPress to promote a specific page. A vanity URL take the form of a subdomain (vanity.thisismyurl.com), a specific sub directory (thisismyurl.com/vanity), or a unique URL for the event (vanity.tdl).
Once you’ve created a vanity URL for your marketing efforts, setting it up with a 302 redirect will ensure search engines know the final destination is the page you’re intending on linking to.
Deep link your content
When building internal links, it’s vital to deep link your content from one post (or page) to another. My strategy for deep linking is to write my initial post, then during the editing phase, to regularly review a list of posts that I feel could be beneficial for my audience. I also make a habit of regularly revisiting old posts, to see if a new post can help improve the understanding of earlier content.
Create plenty of content
If you’re going to take the time to write a blog, or build a website, you’ll want to set aside a schedule to write enough content to populate your blog, as well as a strategy for generating enough content to produce internal linking opportunities. If you’re looking for a great way to start planning your content strategy, I strongly recommend Brian Rotsztein’s new book on content strategy ideas.
Use natural internal links
Let’s go back to my first point, these links are for readers. The side benefit of building SEO value is just that, a side benefit. To create truly powerful internal links, avoid linking words such as click here, or learn more. Internal links should be part of the everyday text or graphics.
Keep your internal links to an acceptable number
Google has an article for web masters that encourages website owners to maintain a reasonable number of internal links per page, but it doesn’t clearly define what a reasonable number of links per page may be. As a result, the best I can recommend is a guess but generally speaking I suggest linking no more than once per paragraph, and only when the link justifies an internal link.
Internal link questions
When should you create an internal link? Here are the three questions I ask myself:
- will this link add value to the reader’s experience, or lead to a call to action;
- have I already linked to this resource, in this post or page;
- does it feel spammy, or self serving;
Okay, that last one might seem completely arbitrary but in my experience it’s a great indicator if a link is warranted in a situation.
Conclusions about internal links
What I hope that you can take away from this post is that internal linking is designed to be of benefit to your visitors, and by improving their experience on your website, you’re also improving your own search engine optimization and site usability.
What do you think? Can you recommend any other times internal links can be of benefit?