This post may be a little dry, but it’s one of the most important subjects for generating more leads through your website – internal link structure. Specifically, how to leverage internal links for boosting traffic to your top landing pages (a.k.a. your money pages).
It’s important that you already have a good understanding of what internal links are and how they influence rankings. If not, a three-minute video from Orbit Media explains it well.
Internal linking structures are too often overlooked, and I can see why. Google’s algorithms change every year and it’s hard to know what is legitimate anymore.
Less than two years ago search engines and SEO gurus alike were teaching us to link keywords whenever possible, to add site-wide footer links to target deeper pages, to use the nofollow attribute on selected links to not waste any link juice, and the list goes on.
However, with the constant evolution of search engines, for the better in my opinion, these tactics have put many websites at risk of losing out. Internal link strategies have nearly 180’d in the past few years. Google is now very clear in warning us to:
- Stop linking too many keywords
- Get rid of fat footers and site-wide links
- Never use the nofollow attribute on internal links
Rules to Link By
What’s my point? I know at the end of the day all you care about is generating more leads. So, to make sure your landing pages rank as high as possible without incurring any possible penalties follow these Google approved white-hat rules:
- Links higher up in the HTML code are more valuable than links lower down the page.
- If there are two anchor links on your page, only the first has noticeable link juice.
- External links provide more link juice than internal links.
- Links from unique domains have more value than sites that link to you often.
- Anchor text links within the body have more value than links from the header, footer, or sidebar navigation.
- Anchor text links provide more value than alt attributes of linked images.
- Links in NoScript tags provide little to no value at all.
- A burst of new links from unique domains may boost the rankings of an otherwise less authoritative website – at least temporarily.
- Don’t have more than 100 outgoing links per page.
- Don’t employ site-wide links across your website (i.e., fat footers.)
- When in doubt, mimic Wikipedia’s linking strategy and only link to hyper-relevant content.
That’s right, my list goes to 11.
I can promise those of you building targeted landing pages and looking to increase your vertical marketing reach that these rules will keep you in good graces with the almighty Google.
How Google Made This Even Better
On September 26, 2013 Google announced the details of their Hummingbird update, which is essentially a whole new search algorithm. This was the largest update they’ve rolled out since 2001.
One of the most noticeable effects this has on websites is that it allows for the more relevant pages to outrank the homepage. This is good news for companies that employ landing pages and even better for companies that take the time to build out full blown verticals within their website.
Mainly because pages with content specific to the keyword search will rank before the companies homepage.
Another major change from this update is that brands will rank above third party or content aggregate sites. This could mean that results from websites like Rip Off Report, Glassdoor or affiliate landing pages will rank below the actual companies website.
If you want more information on Google’s Hummingbird update I recommend Danny Sullivan’s FAQ post on the subject.
How To Internally Link Your Landing Pages
For those of you too busy to read this post, we’ve created a simple graphic you can bookmark as a guideline for how to structure your internal linking strategy around vertical lead capture pages. Keep each supporting web page hyper-relevant to the topic of the targeted landing page.
More Internal Link Analysis Tools and Resources
Here are some websites with great free tools to help identify how many internal links point to specific pages:
- eCreative Internet Marketing
- The ever-popular Screaming Frog
For more information on internal link strategies and how to set up your website for optimal results, I recommend browsing the following blog posts from: