How to best link individual pages on a Web site
Internal Linking Strategy
by Sumantra Roy
1st Search Ranking Newsletter, published January 2003
= interesting, promising
Sumantra Roy gave valuable advice on how to best link individual pages on a Web site in order to obtain a good search engine ranking in the 1st Search Ranking Newsletter. Read this advice below.
1. QUESTION 1:
While I know that the number of external sites that are linking to me is very important for getting good rankings, does it matter how pages within my site link to each other? Or is that not very relevant?
How the internal pages in your site link to each other is indeed extremely important. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Firstly, you need to ensure that each page for which you are trying to get top rankings in the search engines is no more than 2 clicks away from your home page, i.e. when a visitor comes to your site, it should not take more than 2 clicks of the mouse for her to go from the home page to each page in your site for which you are trying to get good rankings. In case the navigation structure of your site is such that your visitors require more than 2 clicks from the home page to reach some of the pages for which you are trying to get good rankings, the best way to handle this is to create a Sitemap page which contains links to all of the internal pages in your site. Then, you need to link the Sitemap page with the home page with a text link which says something like "Sitemap". This ensures that when a search engine spider comes to the home page, it can spider the Sitemap page, and after that, can spider the internal pages in your site which are linked from the Sitemap page.
Now, some search engines refuse to spider pages which only contain links to other pages. Hence, if the Sitemap page only contains links to these internal pages but contains no other content, the search engines may ignore this page. Thus, what you can do is to add a short description of the content of each internal page after you have added a link to that page in the Sitemap page. This ensures that the search engines will not ignore this page.
The second thing that you need to do is to try and ensure that whenever any page in your site links to another page for which you are trying to get good rankings, the anchor text (i.e. the text used to link from one page to the other) contains the keyword for which you are optimizing the second page at least once, preferably near the beginning of the anchor text. Here's an example:
Suppose you have 2 pages in your site called page1.htm and page2.htm. Let's assume page1.htm links to page2.htm and that you are trying to optimize page2.htm for the phrase "home equity loans". Then, the anchor text used for the link from page1.htm to page2.htm should contain the phrase "home equity loans" at least once, preferably near the beginning of the anchor text itself.
This also applies to the anchor text of all the links present in your navigation bar. In most sites, the navigation bar says things like "Home", "Products", "Services" etc. Depending on the nature of your site and the keywords that you are targeting, it may not always be possible to add keywords to the anchor text of these links. But, if you can do it, I strongly recommend that instead of just saying "Home" in your navigation bar, say something like "Debt Consolidation - Home" assuming you are trying to optimize your home page for the keyword "debt consolidation". Instead of saying "Services", say "Credit Counseling Services", assuming you are trying to optimize the Services page in your site for the phrase "credit counseling".
This applies to the Sitemap page in your site as well. In the Sitemap page, make sure that the anchor text of a link to another page in your site contains the keyword for which you are optimizing that page.
An excellent method for analyzing the linking strategy (for both internal links and external links) of your top ranking competitors and figuring out why they are ranked well (so that you can emulate them) is a new software program that I have been using called Optilink. It tells you exactly how your top rankings competitors have achieved their rankings and how you can improve upon what they have done. In addition to this, it also does the following:
i) Allows you to do "what-if" analysis - it tells you what sort of rankings you can expect if you adopt a particular linking strategy.
ii) Helps you determine the quality and relevancy of sites that are linking to you and the quality and relevancy of sites you are asking for links from.
iii) monitor the sites that you have exchanged links with to ensure that they are still linking to you and are linking to you the way you want them to.
You can find more information on Optilink at:
Answers by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra is one of the most respected and recognized search engine positioning specialists on the Internet. For more advice on search engine placement, subscribe to his 1st Search Ranking Newsletter by sending a blank email to
mailto:1stSearchRanking.firstname.lastname@example.org or by going to http://www.1stSearchRanking.net
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