Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Best Practices for Internal Linking

The following are best practices that should be used to properly link pages of your
site together:

1. Use text-based links if possible and use the proper link structure.

This was covered previously in the Proper Link Formatting topic.

2. Use keywords in your link text for every link.

An important part of Google’s ranking algorithm includes checking the text of a link
against text on the linked-to page. Which means use your keywords in link text!

Try not to use “Click here” or “Home” as the text of a link, otherwise Google may
decide that page is about “clicks” or “homes”!

3. Link from your home (or sitemap) page to every other page on your site.

If your Web site is relatively small (less than 10 pages or so), your home page can
effectively function as your sitemap page. If you have a larger site, this becomes
unwieldy and you then really need a separate sitemap page. Make sure you add
some content to your sitemap page. It should not consist of just links.

A sitemap page functions as an “index” to your site and is invaluable for the following

• Helps Google find and crawl other pages on your site quickly
• Helps your customers find what they need quickly
• Helps distribute your site’s PageRank to other important pages

Tip: Because your home page likely has the highest PageRank in your site, you
should try NOT to put any outgoing links on this page. Ideally, the only page you
should have outgoing links on is your Related Links page. This will minimize the
small amount of PageRank “leakage” from that page. This concept will be discussed
later on.

4. Link from every “non-relevant” page back to your home page ONLY.

Non-relevant pages are defined here as those pages that are not keyword-rich and
do not likely contain the information that a visitor to your site is looking for while
searching on Google. You do not want these pages to receive as much PageRank
as your more important pages. Examples of non-relevant pages that should ONLY
link back to the Home page include the following:

• “Copyright” page
• “Privacy Policy” Page
• “Disclaimers” Page
• “About Us” page
• “Contact Us” page
• Order form, shopping cart pages
• “Link to Us” page
• “Testimonials” page

This helps return and concentrate PageRank back to your Home page, which should
be one of the most important pages on your site. Remember, you want to maximize
PageRank for your most important pages.

5. Link from your “Related Links” page to every other page on your site.

Because this page contains outgoing links that point to other websites, this page will
“leak” PageRank from itself (but not from any other pages). Since PageRank “voting
power” is shared evenly among all links on a page, by having as many links point
back to your own pages as possible, you minimize this effect. This is a somewhat
confusing concept that will be discussed later.

As a rule of thumb, try to keep all links going to other sites on a single page – your
“Related Links” page. (If you have more than 100 links on a page, you should split
them up into multiple pages. Google may frown on pages that contain hundreds of
links and may consider this a link farm.) For more information, see “Maintaining a
“Related Links” Page.”

6. Link ONLY between pages that are related by keyword.

This helps distribute PageRank among pages that are related by keyword phrase.
The reason you should do this is that these pages are likely as important (or even
more) to your customers, which means you should concentrate PageRank on these.

Generally, visitors find your site from the home page and then navigate to your other
pages. Internal pages can rank higher than the home page for a keyword phrase,
particularly if the home page contains little relevant content.

These pages should also contain a link back to the Home page.

7. Ensure every page links to at least one other page.

This will help Google crawl your site faster and help your customers navigate through
your site better. Pages with a link to them but without a link on them are called
orphan pages.