The Best of Internal Linking Tips for Higher Search Engine Rankings by digitalorganics

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									                       The Best of Internal Linking Tips for Higher Search Engine Rankings



        Internal linking is one of the elements of SEO and website development that often gets
        overlooked. Properly used internal links can be a useful weapon in your SEO arsenal especially if
        you're just starting to build your business website.

        Insuring that every page of your website gets found by the search engine spiders is probably the
        simplest thing you can do for your rankings. Not only will this increase the number of pages that a
        search engine credits your site with, but it also increases the number of phrases that your website
        has the potential to rank for.

        There are the various types of navigational elements we can apply within an internal linking
        structure strategy. Each navigation element has its pros and cons. Various navigational elements
        to achieve the best linking structure for your web visitor and the search engine spiders include:



        - Simple Hyper Text Links

        - Image Map Navigation

        - Framed Navigation

        - Animated Gifs and Flash Navigation

        - Graphical Navigation Icons or Buttons

        - JavaScript or DHTML Dropdown or Pulldown Menus



        Simple Hyper Text Links

        Hypertext is a computer-based text retrieval system that enables a user to access particular
        locations in Web pages or other electronic documents by clicking on links within specific Web
        pages or documents. They are the simplest navigational elements available for building an internal
        linking structure.



        The basic component of a hypertext link includes a URL and a set of words that are known as
        anchor text. An example of a simple hypertext link looks like <a href="page.html">anchor
        text</a>. The <a href="page.html"> is the code that specifies where the Web visitor should be
        sent when clicked on the anchor text.

        Anchor text is deemed very important in the eyes of the search engines and is assigned more
        weight within the search engine algorithms than ordinary body text. Search engine spiders prefer
        the simplicity of the hypertext link to any other form of linking structure elements. The reason



Digital Organics: Web Design Sunshine Coast - 1/102 Howard Street, Nambour, QLD 4560 T 617 5476 3800, SEO Sunshine Coast
        search engines assign more weight to the anchor text is based on the simple logic that search
        engines believe that you would only link to a page that you deem important. When creating
        hypertext links, make sure to link to your important pages and use specific keywords for the page
        you are linking to.



        Disadvantages of hypertext links:

        - Hypertext links are less attractive then other forms of navigation elements.

        - By default, hypertext links create blue underlined text and if used too much will make a page
        illegible.

        - If overused, can interfere with a Web page's keyword density.



        Image Map Navigation

        Image maps are assigned to single graphics that enable Web users to access pages of your Web
        site by clicking on a portion (X and Y coordinate) of the graphic. Images maps are used for two
        primary reasons, (1) to reduce file download size and (2) to simplify the coding of the links within
        complex graphics.

        First is to reduce file download size. One image takes less time to download than five images. For
        example you can have one single image with five links within them. That one image might be 10
        kb. In contrast five images of the same "on" image might take up a total of 14 kb. For example,
        each smaller image will have to be published at 3kb each, adding up to a total of 14kb as
        compared to the same one image totaling 10 kb.

        The second reason given, to simplify the coding of the links within complex graphics, means that if
        one has a graphic with links embedded throughout a none uniform design, it is extremely hard to
        program the links without using an image map. To embed a link in one of the five single graphics,
        the programmer would have to cut out each one and reprogram the site to lay out the graphics in
        a uniform manner. This can be very challenging for non-uniform graphics. With image maps you
        can specify the X and Y coordinates and determine on a click of a particular X and Y coordinate
        where the user shall be taken.

        In search engine optimization terms, images maps are complex and look something like this:

        <map name="imagemap_code">



        <area shape="rect" coords="18, 126, 112, 143" href="page_one.html"

        alt="page one">



        <area shape="rect" coords="18, 109, 112, 126" href="page_one.html"


Digital Organics: Web Design Sunshine Coast - 1/102 Howard Street, Nambour, QLD 4560 T 617 5476 3800, SEO Sunshine Coast
        alt="page two">



        </map>

        You can see that there are complex numbers and variables that drive where the user shall be
        taken. For this reason image maps are not search engine friendly; and if used, one should always
        use a search engine friendly secondary form of navigation - like hypertext links.



        Framed Navigation

        There are many sites on the Web that are built with frames. Frames tend not to be search engine-
        friendly for many reasons. One of the most obvious reasons is that it gives search engine spiders a
        challenge determining which file is the primary site content. Think of a framed site as a site that
        has many sites within it. So one might build a site in frames to leave the side bar navigation in a
        static position on the left, while giving the Web user the ability to scroll up and down on the right
        for the page with the content.

        Normally, when one clicks on a hyperlink within the left side frame box it will generate an action to
        replace the contents of the frame to its right. However, search engines do not know to look in that
        right frame and it stays within the navigation frame missing out on all your content. As you can
        see, the more frames utilized within a site the less search engine friendly the site is.



        There is an acceptable standard available that can achieve the look of frames while making your
        site much more search engine friendly. This standard has been released by the World Wide Web
        Consortium (also known as the W3) and is known as CSS or Cascading Style Sheets.



        If you insist on using frames, there are some guidelines you should follow to help increase the
        search engine spiders' ability to index your pages.

        - Make sure that you include links from frameset to your internal pages

        - Try to submit each internal page to search engines

        - Try to obtain links from external sites to your internal pages

        - Include text links at the bottom of each page

        - Include breadcrumb trail at the top of the page

        - Include text links within body text

        - Build a site map that links to each internal page

        - Utilize the noframe tag



Digital Organics: Web Design Sunshine Coast - 1/102 Howard Street, Nambour, QLD 4560 T 617 5476 3800, SEO Sunshine Coast
        Animation and Flash Navigation

        Macromedia and its flagship product, Flash, has redefined the limitations of the Web. It has taken
        Web design to levels once thought unachievable. Web designers can create, publish and transmit
        high definition, motion filled, colorful animations to a broad Internet base without running into the
        pitfalls of bandwidth limitations and browser support. Flash has undoubtedly changed the Internet
        forever.

        Flash Web sites tend to be one of the worse types of Web sites in terms of search engine visibility.
        Most search engine spiders cannot read the contents within the SWF (file extension for published
        Flash files) files. Google and FastSearch are able to read the URLs within a Flash file. That is why it
        is important when creating Flash sites to also create a simple but text rich HTML Web site for
        spiders and for Web users that prefer the less eye-candy media.

        There are several ways to use Flash within a site's design that can help reduce the negative
        qualities of the Flash files. The first method is to use a partial flash site and partial HTML site.
        Many sites opt for this solution because you can have the visual treat with the benefits of the
        HTML site.

        A second method is to create a splash page that gives the user the ability to choose either an
        HTML version or a Flash version. This solution is very common as well. The spiders will eat up (no
        pun intended) the HTML version while your Web visitor will be dazzled by the Flash version.

        The third method to combat the illegibility of the Flash files is to use the noscript tag or noframe
        tag when using a flash only site. This is however not the best method and one should only use
        these tags when there is no other option.



        Graphical Navigation Icons or Buttons

        Graphical navigation icons and buttons are as popular as hypertext navigation. The graphical icon
        or button is a graphic, generally a GIF or JPEG formatted image, that links to either an absolute
        URL or relative URL. An example of a graphical navigation button would look like this <a
        href="page.html"><img src="pics/button.gif"></a>. The <a href="page.html"> is already
        familiar to you. As you can see the <img src="pics/button.gif"> is in the place of the anchor text.
        "img" stands for image and "src" stands for source, so the piece of code says image source is
        found in the directory pics and is named button.gif. Wrapping the <a href="page.html"></a>
        around the image activates that image as a link.

        There are many obvious benefits to using the graphical navigation icons or buttons as primary text
        links. One of the benefits includes using high-impact fonts and colors that are not supported
        through regular HTML. Increasing the look of the links on your site can help attract more clicks by
        the end user to the page of interest.

        However, search engines cannot see the graphic and if the graphic is really a graphical
        representation of a word - such as About Us - then how does a search engine know that? In all



Digital Organics: Web Design Sunshine Coast - 1/102 Howard Street, Nambour, QLD 4560 T 617 5476 3800, SEO Sunshine Coast
        cases where graphics are used as navigation, it is wise to use alternative text tag within the source
        code of the image. For example, one would embed the alternative text into the above example as
        such:

        <a href="page.html"><img src="pics/button.gif" alt="Short Text Explaining Where the Graphic
        Link will Take you"></a>



        The alt tag (alternative) gives search engines as well as screen readers (used by the blind) the
        ability to assign a meaning to the graphic, in place of the anchor text. Hence, it is important to use
        keyword specific words that apply to the page you are linking to in the alternative tag area.



        JavaScript or DHTML Dropdown or Pulldown Menus

        Many sites utilize the pulldown or dropdown menu to allow users to locate sections of a site
        quickly. There are two basic forms of the dropdown or pulldown menus. The first form is the
        JavaScript pulldown and the second form is the DHTML dropdown.

        The main problem with this type of navigation is that search engine spiders have a difficult time
        reading the URLs within the JavaScript. In addition, usability experts tend not to like JavaScript
        pull down menus and recommend offering alternative navigation in addition to the JavaScript pull
        down menu. It would be wise to use hypertext links as primary or secondary navigation when
        utilizing JavaScript pull down menus for both usability and search engine visibility.



        How To Improve Your Internal Linking Structure

        There are many methods you can use to improve your internal linking structure. The three main
        ones are:



        1. Text link navigation

        2. Footers

        3. Inline text links



        Text Link Navigation

        Most websites include some form of navigation on the left hand side. This makes it one of the first
        things read by a search engine spider. If it is one of the first things the search engine spiders sees
        when it goes through your site it will have a strong weight added to it so it must be optimized with
        care.




Digital Organics: Web Design Sunshine Coast - 1/102 Howard Street, Nambour, QLD 4560 T 617 5476 3800, SEO Sunshine Coast
        If you are using text link navigation be sure to include the targeted keywords in the links.
        Thankfully this cannot be taken as meaning "cram your keywords into each and every link"
        because this is your navigation and that would look ridiculous.

        You don't have to get your keywords in every link but if workable, every second or third link works
        well. Also consider what you are targeting on internal pages. If your homepage target is "web
        hosting" and you've linked to your homepage in the navigation with "web hosting main" which is
        followed by your contact page so you've used "contact us", it would be a good idea to use the
        anchor text "dedicated hosting" for the third link. It reinforces the "hosting" relevancy and also
        attaches relevancy to the dedicated hosting page of the site to the phrase "dedicated hosting" in
        the anchor text.



        Footers

        Footers are the often overused and abused area of websites. While they are useful for getting
        spiders through your site and the other points noted above, they should not be used as spam
        tools. Not only does this look bad but it reduces that value of each individual link (which then
        become 1 out of 200 links rather than 1 out of 10 or 20).

        Keep your footers clean, use the anchor text well, and link to the key internal pages of your
        website and you will have a well optimized footer. You will also want to include in your footer a
        link to a sitemap. On this sitemap, link to every page in your site. Here is where you can simply
        insure that every page gets found. Well worded anchor text is a good rule on your sitemap as well.
        You may also want to consider a limited description of the page on your sitemap. This will give you
        added verbiage to solidify the relevancy of the sitemap page to the page you are linking to.



        Internal Text Links

        Internal text links are links placed within the content of your work. They were covered in last
        week's article on content optimization, which gives me a great opportunity to use one as an
        example.



        While debatable, inline text links do appear to be given extra weight as their very nature implies
        that the link is entirely relevant to the content of the site.



        Do it Right by Linking Within Your Content

        Assuming your site has already a solid primary navigation structure, search engines pass value for
        the terms/phrases used in the link anchor text.

        When working on improving rankings for a site, people usually try to target links from other sites
        (external links) that have the desired anchor text related to terms they want to rank for. However,



Digital Organics: Web Design Sunshine Coast - 1/102 Howard Street, Nambour, QLD 4560 T 617 5476 3800, SEO Sunshine Coast
        contextual internal links can also be effective in helping to improve a site's rankings for targeted
        key phrases.

        To start improving your internal linking strategy, go through your site section by section, page by
        page, and see where it would make sense (from a user's point of view), and insert some
        contextual links to other pages that you want to rank better.

        Be sure to use the keywords/phrases (in the anchor text) that you would like the destination pages
        to rank for. In your links to these pages throughout the site, vary it up and don't use the exact
        same phrases in anchor text, or it will look artificial to both search engines and users. As you're
        doing this, make sure that the target key phrases show up on the destination page in some form.
        Links are more effective if the terms in the link anchor text also show up on the page.

        One area where this is useful is to help a site rank for both plural and singular versions of a word.
        The surrounding text can help too, so you may want to tweak the sentences and paragraphs
        around your links to improve the contextual value. This is an example of how to use anchor text
        variations from internal links, following no particular pattern.



        An Urgent Reminder

        A study by the crew from *SEOMoz revealed that:

        1.Internal Anchor Text Has Very Little Impact on the Homepage. Although linking to a page like
        our Web 2.0 Awards with the anchor text "web 2.0," for example, appears to provide a positive
        nudge, the same does not hold true if one links to the homepage of SEOmoz with the anchor text
        "SEO." In fact, for those who put a great deal of time into optimizing their links back to their
        homepage to say "new york apartments" or "antique rifles" rather than "home," I'd test whether
        modification of the link anchor text has any adverse rankings impact. In my recent experience (on
        a few different sites), the answer is no.

        2.Excessive Internal Anchor Text Linking / Manipulation Can Trip An Automated Penalty on Google.
        Google appears to punish sites for excessive internal linking with "optimized" (or "keyword stuffed
        anchor text") links. When the links were removed (in both cases, they were found in the footer of
        the website sitewide), the rankings were restored immediately following Google's next crawl,
        indicating a fully automated filter (rather than a manual penalty requiring a re-consideration
        request).

        3.Beyond a Certain Point, Adding More Internal Links to a Page Does Not Necessarily Flow More
        Anchor Text Value.



        Final Take

        Simply changing your internal navigation will not launch your site to the top of the rankings
        however it's important to use each and every advantage available to create a solid top ten ranking
        for your site that will hold it's position.




Digital Organics: Web Design Sunshine Coast - 1/102 Howard Street, Nambour, QLD 4560 T 617 5476 3800, SEO Sunshine Coast
        They will get your pages doing better, they will help get your entire site spidered, they will help
        increase the value of internal pages and they will build the relevancy of internal pages to specific
        keyword phrases.




Digital Organics: Web Design Sunshine Coast - 1/102 Howard Street, Nambour, QLD 4560 T 617 5476 3800, SEO Sunshine Coast

								
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