Internal linking structures are a huge part of SEO. The thing is that it is different for Ecommerce Sites, Blogs and Affiliate Sites. Ecommerce sites can use it to rank categories and vanity terms on their homepage to drive sales. Affiliates can use it similar to Ecommerce sites to rank for vanity terms and products, but also for expansions into new niches from their sites. Blogs can use it for optimizing posts in the SERPs. The problem is that people are getting carried away with their internal linking structures and going over board. Others are loosing sales because they are interrupting their own shopping process by causing clicks. Lets go over what an Internal Linking Structure is and how to use it. This will be for all three of the above types of sites, with small mentions of specifics.
What is an Internal Linking Structure?
An Internal Linking Structure is a series of inbound links (text links from a page on your site to another page on your site).
Ecommerce and Affiliate Sites – To help end users find an explanation of the term you are linking off of. It is also a way to tell search engine spiders what the page on your site is about and what terms it should be ranking that page for as opposed to other pages with similar terms and copy.
Bloggers – It is a way to help end users find information about a topic that you feel is important enough to stop them from reading the article they are currently on. It is also a way to tell the search engines which posts to rank out of all of the posts in your blog for specific terms in the search engine.
How do you build an internal linking structure?
When you set up your site, you try to optimize one page for one to three keywords and phrases. To build your internal linking structure, when you mention those keywords and phrases, or similar variations, you create a text link from the post or article back to the page you want the search engines to show for that term. It also helps your visitors find the best page possible on your site for more information about that topic.
What people do wrong with Internal Linking Structures.
One of the first mistakes people make with an internal linking structure is that they think they are Wikipedia. Wikipedia can get away with linking internally to everything but you cannot. You also have to remember that all of these internal links distract your end user. You could land them on a sales page but because you created an internal link they leave the sales page and may not return. Internal links can be distracting and mess up your end user experience. You also have to remember that the more links on a page, the lesser the value of the links.
The other major problem I see with internal linking structures is that people overuse the keywords and phrases. They make them so complicated and forget what the main page for that term is, then they end confusing the search engines by using similar variations with the same base keyword phrase in them and now the search engines don’t know which page to show for which term because the internal links are competing with each other. Your Title tags and Meta tags can help, but if you overdo it on your internal links, you are working against yourself. You also need to be cautious of them with your canonical links as well. But that is for another post.
Internal linking structures are great ways to show the search engines which pages are important to show for which terms. They can help readers become more educated on certain pieces of other articles and can help organize your site and increase navigation for shoppers. The problem is over doing it with the links. You could distract shoppers so they don’t shop and you could confuse the search engines so they don’t know which page to show for which term. You don’t have to have an internal link from every post, but you should do it where its appropriate and remember not to go overboard.