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
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.
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.
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.
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!