Creating descriptive internal links is crucial to creating a user-friendly, search engine optimized website. Your internal linking structure helps search engines determine which pages on your site are most important, based on how many links to each page you include. It also helps visitors determine whether they should click your links to learn more. Here are five tips for developing a website internal linking strategy.
- Start with keyword research – What keywords are you targeting? Use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to brainstorm keyword ideas. Write your webpages with keywords in mind. If your keyword isn’t found on your page, chances are, it won’t show up in Google’s search results. Then, whenever you link to that page, use your keyword in your link text.
- Be consistent – Make your links consistent. Your links should clearly stand out from your web content. Use the same color and format for all links in the main content of your page. It is also good practice to make sure your regular text does not look like a link. For instance, don’t underline it or use the same font or color so it looks like a link when it isn’t.
- Don’t use misleading text – Make sure your link text matches the contents of the webpage you are linking to. For instance, if you include a link to “Learn more about our marketing services,” the title of the linked page should use the words “Our Marketing Services” to confirm readers are in the right place. This also helps search engines confirm your page is really about what the link text said it was.
- Use meaningful link descriptions – Tell people what relevant information they will find when they click your link. Use keywords or descriptions of page contents rather than generic “click here” text. Download your free marketing plan guide is better than Click here to download.
- Designate file types – If you offer files for download, clearly state what type of document (MP3, PDF, Word, PPT) your visitor will be downloading and how large it is. Often, downloaded files require another application to view the content. Let visitors know what program is required and where to download the program to view the files, if possible.
Effective websites are optimized for visitors first and then search engines. Make sure your readers can understand your internal links. Most elements that make up user-friendly internal links (meaningful link descriptions and keywords) are also important to search engines.