Here’s your Link Building 101 course on the basics of building internal links that will help you rank higher in the search results.
That being said, here’s your video on basic internal link building:
Basic Link Building Tutorial
There’s content and then there’s links. Both play an important role in how search engines catalog your website. In this Basic Internal Link Building Tutorial (also called intra-linking), you’ll learn how to optimize your navigation, get more “juice” to top content, and use a site map to help distribute PageRank™.
But very quickly, I’m going to discuss two types of link building: Internal and External. Internal link building will help Google understand your content well enough to categorize it and catalog it, creating “sitelinks” and “breadcrumbs” to help users access popular content. External Link Building is building links that come from third party websites and could be compared to votes. Good votes giveth, bad votes taketh away.
So let’s get started on intra-linking…
Use Text (Not Images or Flash) for Links
Imagine for a moment a manual for what you do in your industry. Now pretend that you’re a newbie and someone has just ripped out the table of contents, section summaries and indexes from your manual. You’d be a little pissed off would you? Yah, me too. This is where internal linking comes into play. Like indexes and menus, the text within a link helps the search engines (and your visitors) fully understand what content they can expect to see if they crawl (or click) any particular link.
Here is what your navigation might look like to Google if you are using images and buttons as opposed to text-rich hyperlinks:
OH SNAP! That’s right, it converts the image to binary and all your embedded text gets mushed into a bunch of 0’s and 1’s. By using text links, you provide a simple way for Google and other search engines to understand your content. Now you’re wondering how many pages on your website might be ranking for “click here” because you didn’t use descriptive words in your links, right?
Same goes for Adobe Flash. This type of media is excellent for user experience, movies, videos, and banners; it is not a good choice for website navigation. See the 0’s and 1’s above again (same scenario).
Google Quality Manager, Matt Cutts could be compared to a liaison for Search Engine Optimization Experts. He helps clarify what to do and what not to do to get more visibility in Google. Matt has said on several occasions and within several video interviews to “get your top content linked to from your homepage” and he’s right. Don’t make the user or the search engine have to dig around to get to the pages that hold the most value ($) to your business.
HTML Site Maps
Take a breath, I know this makes no sense yet. PageRank™ is Google’s measure of relevancy. It is a 1-10 score unique to every page of content on the Internet. To get the most PageRank™ possible, your content should not be buried deep within the website, but as close to the homepage as possible.
Okay, imagine you are in a room full of people learning about SEO. Everyone in the room has been broken up into uneven groups; one with 2 people, one with 4, one with 9, and one with 17. For now, we’ll say the glasses are even in volume. Everyone in each group has been told to take a “normal” sip of water. Once every person in every group has taken a sip, they are to return the glasses back to the instructor. Which glass will have the most water? That’s right, the one from the group of 2 people. As the recipient of a glass of water, which glass would you prefer (think in terms of volume and purity). Again, the glass from the smallest group.
PageRank™ works in the same way. The fewer links you have on a page, the more value each link will carry over to the pages being linked to. A page with 100 links will carry very little value to subpages, where a page with 20 links will distribute much more value to it’s subpages.
Here’s a wrench for you and something to consider before you start learning External Link Building techniques: Now imagine the same groups of people in a room and each receiving different volumes of water to start with. Imagine one group gets a bucket of water, the next a glass, the next a schooner, and another a barrel. Nice place to start right (with the barrel I mean)? Think about this as you start your quest to get links coming into your website.
So the site map plays like a hub or table of contents for your website. Googlebot, Slurp and MSNbot can quickly get to every page on your website by simply navigating to the site map link, most-likely near the bottom of the page by your copyright info. While the number of links may reduce the value of the link slightly, the perpetual glass of water only has to pass through one page (the site map) as opposed to category > subcategory > sub-subcategory, and so forth. Point = use a site map page.
To make your website more search engine-friendly and semi-explicit to the search engines and visitors, replace your image-based navigation with text, link your top content from your homepage and use a global site map page to more efficiently distribute Google PageRank™.
Questions? Comments? Please share below.