Links are the roads and pathways of the web, they connect our pages to other pages on our sites (Internal Links) and they connect our sites to other sites (External Links). In the real world the more roads and pathways to a particular location the more popular (and populated) that location tends to be.
If the roads and pathways all have signs on them telling us where they lead to, its even better for us. If we follow the path signposted to ‘widgets for sale’ we end up somewhere we can buy some widgets – sheer brilliance!
If we think like that for our webpages we won’t go too far astray. The most important pages on our websites should have the most links pointing to them from other pages. Typically the home page has the most links to it both from internal links (as most sites include a home link on all pages) and from external links (other sites linking to us). This is usually appropriate unless your sites home page is some frivolous flash display that says nothing about you and your business.
So how do we make use of this linking stuff for search engine optimisation purposes? One good way to look at it is to think of how our keywords stack up in the importance stakes. If we’re selling widgets then we might think of ‘widgets’ as our most important keyword, the one we would really love our homepage to rank in the search engines for. Other important keywords might be ‘designer widgets’, ‘used widgets’ or ‘widget hire’. They may have less traffic but are still good keywords for us to try to get ranked for.
So to optimise our website structure in line with the above thoughts we might talk all about ‘widgets’ on our homepage and we can title it something like ‘Widgets by Joe’s Excellent Widget Company’ while one of our other pages can talk all about ‘Designer Widgets’, another can be ‘Used Widgets’ and so on.
With each of those pages now talking all about (and titled appropriately to) its very own keyword we can now look at how many links are pointing to each of them.
Search Engine Thinks: “Mmhhh this page has lots of links from other pages to it, it looks like it must be important”
Remember the homepage targets our most important keyword so we have the most links pointing to it. We can now arrange links from other pages in our site to the pages for the less important keywords.
How do we do that? Well if our homepage has say 30 links in total from our other pages we could try to get some links pointing to each of our other target pages, maybe a few less to our ‘Used Widgets’ page if they are not quite as important or profitable to us. By scattering links to our target pages around our site (but with an eye on the total numbers of links to any one page) we can help signal which pages are important and should be ranked by the search engines.
Remember how its best to ‘signpost’ our roads and pathways. We do this with our links too by making use of anchor text. Anchor text is simply the clickable text used to form the link, often underlined to show its a link. By using our target pages keywords in the anchor text of links pointing to it we effectively signpost that link. Here is a link to a page on my Google Ads management service Google Ads Management Northern Beaches. See that? I just used the title of that page in the anchor text, now it’s clear what it leads to, it’s effectively ‘signposted’.
If the number of internal links pointing to our pages is important, how do you reckon the search engines view the numbers of links from other sites to our pages? – The answer is extremely highly! In fact its believed to be the biggest factor in getting a page ranked.
If two sites are similarly written and structured, the one with the better link count to it will rank higher in the search engines.
The same considerations apply, we should try to get links from other sites to our homepage and if at all possible to the other important pages of our site and we would really like those links to have good anchor text to ‘signpost’ them well.
Now as it happens just like some roads are really super efficient freeways and some pathways are really just old dirt tracks, not all links from other sites are equal, some are better than others!
Just like in the real world, it’s in our interests to have good roads leading to our place if we’re trying to attract others to visit.
But enough for now, that will be the subject of my next post.