Mastering External and Internal Linking Strategies
If you pay attention to search engine optimization at all, you will know that over the last few years it has been all about back linking. This is the practice of getting other websites to link back to your website. It became known that one criteria or element of the algorithm for search engines is the amount of links that lead to your site. This looks at not only the amount of links but also the quality of the sites that are linking to you. This is because it is understood that the more sites that link to you on a certain subject, the more authority that your website and its content are perceived to have.
For a while, keywords were the rage. Then, people began to “stuff” keywords or add all kinds of words and phrases— even if they didn’t relate to their business— in order to get ranked and indexed under more subjects. This is why just about every search query in the ‘90s yielded porn.
Next, the strategy moved on to examining keyword usage in the on-page copy. Again, the more competitive types would “stuff” web text with keywords, creating unreadable piles of garbage in an effort to rank better on search engines. Every time people get wise to one aspect of search engines, the algorithm changes to mitigate the effects of gaming the system.
So, a mixture of keywords, page titles, on-page copy and back links become the elixir for SEO success.
Again, the public wants to game the system, and the link farm is born. Large sites that aggregate hundreds or thousands of links— a paid service to have a link for your web page placed on an external site. People would broker hundreds of these, and some “black hat” SEO specialists cultivated multiple link farm networks. Search engines caught onto this and penalized both farms and participants heavily. As of late, search engines still give credit to back links but give more weight or “link juice” to links from more authoritative websites. If you have a blog about do-it-yourself home repair, and you have a music website, a salon, or other random businesses linking to you, that sort of helps. If you have hardware stores, tool stores, and other DIY repair blogs linking to you, well, that is terrific. If Home Depot links to your site, then you really start to gain authority and credibility with search engines in your area of expertise.
Another element of the back link is the anchor text— the word or phrase that is actually the hyperlink to your page. The more relevant the word or phrase in the hyperlink is to what you do, the better the results. So if there is a Dewey, Cheatem, & Howe law firm that has managed to gain notoriety through a popular blog on their site or a famous TV commercial in the area, resulting in companies and other websites linking to them via an anchor link like Dewey, Cheatem, & Howe— that begins to help them gain authority. If the link is Personal Injury Law, Shelbyville, then that is even better. The best scenario would be a range of law-related websites and blogs, along with other authoritative sites like news and educational websites, business directories, and medical offices all linking to DC&H’s website through a varied list of combinations of anchor text that collectively describe the company, services, and location.
You can use this same strategy within your website. Using links sensibly throughout the content of your website with keyword-oriented anchor text helps to further spell out what your website does and sells that to search engines. Again, this concept cannot be beaten to death— a link per 100 words is about the limit. Like the web page copy, these links should be used with the target audience in mind. Do these links help the user navigate the website and provide them with information that better helps them understand your services, business, products, or the content they are reading? If so, search engines will move through and understand more about you as well.
If you take steps in your business plan to address your website with attention to clean HTML, a well-devised keyword strategy, and strong meta content in page titles and descriptions, you have covered some fundamentals of search engine optimization. Next, use text that works together with the meta data and keyword strategy. Now, employ an internal keyword strategy while building the strong content and relationships necessary to develop a growing set of inbound links, and the search engine gods will smile graciously upon you.
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