I could talk till I’m blue in the face about one concept or another, but until I give a concrete example, it’s very hard to really internalize that concept.
Here are a few of the most important concepts to understand about internal linking – Along with a few examples to really hammer them home.
In Context Linking
One of the best places to link out of your site from is within your content itself.
This takes a lot of effort, but greatly improves your SEO, vastly improves your end user experience and can even help you build relationships with other webmasters.
The idea is to link to other pieces of content on your site whenever possible. Occasionally, link out to other sources on the web.
Do this throughout your article, regularly. You can use tools like Pretty Link Pro to help do this, but the majority of the time you’ll just have to do it by hand.
One of my favorite bloggers who does this very well is James Altucher. Take a look at this article and pay attention to how he links throughout the article. There’s at least one link to another post on his blog in every screen of content.
Relevant Links or Also Recommended
At the end of every article, it helps to add links to other pages on your site that people should read.
These could include:
- Other articles you’ve written that contain additional information
- Links to contrasting points of views
- Followup posts
- Foundational posts
- Outside resources that people should check out
For an example of this in action, take a look at eHow’s sidebar: eHow: Redecorating a Home
Useful Sidebar Information
One thing you can do is add a lot of useful links to your sidebars. This makes it very easy for users to navigate throughout your site and to find the best of what you have to offer.
One fantastic way to do this is to change your sidebars by categories. You’ll have to install a custom script or two to do this, but the effects are powerful.
Here’s an example of a page with a lot of great links in the sidebar: Steve Pavlina: Personal Development for Smart People
Previous, Next and Breadcrumb
Another good way to make your site easier to navigate is to have previous, next and breadcrumb navigation.
Previous and next buttons go at the top or bottom of your website. They should be used whenever you’re doing a series. This makes it easy for people to quickly switch back and forth between related pieces of content.
While we’re on the same note, I’ll add that you should never break up pieces of content into multiple pages simply to get more pageviews. Instead, break up content into multiple pages only when it makes sense from a user experience perspective. Instead of a 50 page page, you definitely want to break it up into smaller parts. But don’t create 10 pages that have two paragraphs of content each.
A breadcrumb trail shows how users got to where they are and makes it easy for users to go “back up” a level or get back to the home page.
The Khan Academy is a fantastic example of both of these: Khan Academy
Effects on User Experience and SEO
Internal linking helps with both your user experience and your SEO.
For starters, it gets people to view more of your content. Navigating a site with a lot of content can be intimidating. Helping your users navigate your site can really help keep your users engaged and create more loyal readers.
It also helps for SEO. The more important pages on your site will get more attention, as they naturally should. Google also just plain likes sites that have good internal linking structures.
Are you using these techniques on your site? If not, pick the one that you think would have a biggest impact and start there.
Yes, it is completely normal if implementing one of these would take days, or even a couple weeks. If you have 200 posts and had to go through post by post to add in-context links, that could easily take a dozen hours. It’s worth it – You’ll notice an instant jump in your pageviews per visitor and your average visit length.