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Six Ways to Increase Internal Links

26 August 2010 BY

Be honest with me… how often does this happen?

“Yes hello, we’d like to buy some of your optimisation please. We have the business idea, clear objectives, brand values, and loads of shit-hot original content of all types. We’d like to get you involved right now, before the design RFP goes out and we’d like you to advise on everything from choice of domain onwards.”

I suspect the answer to my question may be “never.”

More often than not we’re engaged as online marketers somewhere down the line and we inherit a website or business that whilst functional; might not be optimal. Not every client or business has a web team or a generous budget for an extensive re-build, so at times we may find that we’re making do. In such situations there are two areas I find most sorely in need of attention and these are Information Architecture and content. In this case I wanted to look at some ways to boost internal linking for when the site Information Architecture isn’t ideal.

1. Implement a breadcrumb navigation form

Breadbrumb navigation example

As well as being a good idea from a usability perspective (as a breadcrumb form of navigation shows the path the user has taken to journey to the current page), a breadcrumb should be dynamic and clickable (including “home”) and thus increases internal links.

2. Site Map

Yes, not just for search engines; adding a sitemap to the site that is intended to be of use to your visitors is also a good idea from an internal links perspective too. A natural and most useful place for the sitemap would be on the global footer either as a footer link, or as in this example suggested to me by web design experts FHOKE; on the footer in it’s entirety.

Waitrose Sitemap Footer

www.waitrose.com (do take a look in-situ as the screen-shot doesn’t do this justice.)

A user-facing sitemap of this nature needs to retain some sort of design integrity and structure, and I wouldn’t recommend putting all pages on the site on a footer sitemap (size dependent), as that would start to cross the border of usable heading towards a cheap motel in Spamville.

3. Tags/Tag Clouds

Tag clouds can be an interesting, textural way to increase internal links to pages on your site. Again, do consider usability, the site and the nature of the business. If your site has genuine, quality content, a dynamic tag cloud can add an interesting dimension and convey popularity, activity, temporeality. All that nice stuff. On the other hand, I’m not one for features just because you can. As an example, if I had a client that sold plumbing trade supplies then a tag cloud would not be advised.

Tag Could Toilet

I made this up using Wordle.net

4. Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a lot of technical products, adding a set of FAQ’s available on the site footer can be a brilliant way to boost your internal linkage, on terms in content and context; plus assist your visitors at the same time. I’m sure it goes without saying that even if the origin of the exercise is a link motive, one wouldn’t be advised to invent a question purely to angle a link to every single page on the site. You can use various linkbuilding tools and analysis, plus the site architecture and knowledge of the user journey to identify the most pertinent pages.

5. Related or Similar Products

Assigning relationships to pages according to similarities which could be of type, range, style or set is another useful way to ensure greater cross-linking.

6. In-Content

Of course, the most obvious and posssibly easiest way to increase internal linkage within a site, is within content. Not sure I’ve much of value to add here, other than there are a couple of good WordPress plugins to use which will help automatically detect and place internal links in your content. Kevin Gibbons has Yet Another Related Posts Plugin, in his list of Top 20 WordPress Plugins, so that’s good enough for me!

AUTHORED BY:
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Nichola Stott is owner and co-founder of theMediaFlow; online revenue optimisation and audience services (including SEO, SEM and SMM). Prior to founding theMediaFlow, Nichola spent four years at Yahoo! as head of UK commercial search partners.
  • http://www.seo-lex.com/ Rosenstand

    Good points Nichola! But it actually DO happen that companies contact us even before the domain name is chosen. And that is an ideal situation. Granted: Way too seldom though.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/internetmarketingnickst Nick Stamoulis

    All of these are great points in increasing your internal linking structure, however when it comes to linking your actual content, do so in moderation. You don’t want to overload your content with links, it can create a negative user experience and turn a user off to your site, resulting in that visitor leaving your site because of a poor experience. Limit content linking to 3 links per.

  • http://www.themediaflow.com Nichola Stott

    @Nick

    I have to disagree with you. A link should be placed in content because it is potentially beneficial to the user in that the link (should be) to further reading, or historical context; or anything that would expand the topic or theme well, that can’t be better paraphrased in the piece.

    To some extent I agree that overloading content with links can provide a bad user experience in the sense that if there appear to be unneccessary links placed on concepts, terms or whatever that would not require expansion or definition then that’s a turn off; however I don’t think volume is the lead consideration.

    I strongly disagree with the 3 link limit point. I think that the type, subject matter, style and length of content will dictate the links required.

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