Since Google Penguin’s release, the importance of links has never been higher. Authority is a commodity that sites seemingly trade amongst each other in order to rank higher on the SERP, and to gain that coveted link juice. But sites often forget the importance of linking internally within their sites in order to dilute the link juice further.
For those reading this, you’re probably wondering what exactly is link juice? What impact on my site does it have? What is authority? And most importantly: How do I effectively link internally? Let’s start off with the basics first.
Link Juice is a term SEOs use to refer to the amount of authority or power that a link passes from one site to another, or from one page to another. If Page A has an authority of 80, and Page B has an authority of 20, it’s clear that Page A will be ranking higher in the SERP, and Page B will probably fall to the second page. However, if Page A links to Page B (whether this is an internal or external link), Page A will pass on some of the authority to Page B, and eventually, we’ll start to see Page B’s authority and rankings start to rise.
Link juice is a major factor when it comes to rankings. Link building strategies are bountiful in the industry, filtering out high authority domains and trying to get them to link back to you is a process any business invested in digital carries out. And with Penguin prowling the web, link farms are becoming less and less effective, meaning the hunt for good quality links has never been fiercer.
Authority is generally measured by using tools provided by Moz:
“Domain Authority is Moz’s calculated metric for how well a given domain is likely to rank in Google’s search results. It is based off data from the Mozscape web index and includes link counts, MozRank and MozTrust scores, and dozens of other factors. It uses a machine learning model to predictively find an algorithm that best correlates with rankings across thousands of search results that we predict against.”
As stated before, links and link juice is a major factor in ranking, so how can we take advantage of it?
A post about link juice externally would take up around ten pages, so I’ll just focus on the importance of internal linking, and why getting that link juice flowing throughout your site is essential for ranking highly. Let’s go through some of the most important factors to consider when internally linking:
1. Spread link juice evenly throughout your site
Your site should have a structure similar to this – with each of the lines being indicative of a link:
If all the links are pointing solely to the homepage, only the homepage will have a high authority, and the subcategories or categories won’t be ranking highly for search terms. Carphone Warehouse’s home page may rank highly, but Blackberry Phones (one of their categories) won’t be, as that category won’t have any link juice passed to it.
The site should be interwoven in order to keep link juice flowing throughout. If you hit the bottom of the hierarchy (say a specific product page), have that page link to similar categories. There should never be “dead ends” within a site for the above reasons.
Internal links are also necessary for Google’s spiders to crawl the site. Spiders can’t access and index pages which have no internal links to them. Isolated links are non-existent to Google’s spiders, no matter how great the content is on that specific page.
2. Be specific in where you’re passing juice to
It’s always a good idea to have link juice spread evenly throughout the site. It’s also a good idea to help boost up pages with a low authority, however, some pages aren’t worth boosting. Link juice is limited in the sense that you can only spread so much of it around. Don’t focus on boosting up the “Contact Us” page on the site. It’s probably already linked to in the top navigation, so don’t waste resources passing link juice to it. Think like a user: Does the importance of the page warrant more visibility? If the answer is yes, then pass the juice along.
3. Be natural
Provide internal links to the site when appropriate. Not only does this seem more natural to the reader (everyone hates link stuffed pages), but when they see a genuinely relevant and informative link, they’ll be more likely to click it, and have that link juice passed on:
When you link in your content you’re telling the engine that the target of your link is so relevant and important that you want your visitor to simply be able to click a link and go straight there. Basically, that what you’re linking to is potentially so relevant that the visitor may want to stop what they’re reading and go to the next page.
Not only is this beneficial to the user, but also to the search engine, so there’s really no reason not to do this.
To sum up, the focus on gaining external links seems to be focused on a lot more than the importance of internal linking. With enormous benefits SEO-wise, making sure link juice is flowing naturally and thoroughly through your site is essential.