The concept of a hyperlink isn’t new. If you’re reviewing a toy and you compare it to another one you’ve written about, you might link to it so your audience can read that post too. They’re incredibly useful for directing people around your site, and for the most part, relatively unobtrusive to the reading experience. They’re very easy, very intuitive, and very important for SEO.
A few definitions first: An internal link is a link that points to another page within the same website. If Bex writes a masterpost on lube for sizebeans, they might link to individual reviews they’ve written on specific types of lube. That’s an internal link. An external link points to a site other than itself. When I rave about Lilly’s toy safety page and link to it, that’s external. They’re both important, but I’m going to talk about internal links today.
So, why do you need better internal linking?
To Direct Users
This is a fairly obvious one. If you want someone to read something, make it easy for them to find it by linking to it. Whether you’re writing a post and include some extra information, or you’ve created an HTML sitemap that lays out the groundwork of your site structure for users, you’re going to be using links.
To Direct Spiders
No, not those spiders. Internet spiders are bots that crawl the web looking for new content and updating old content. A spider finds all the information on your website by going through page by page following links as they appear, and by evaluating your sitemap. If you’ve got little orphan Annie pages that no other page links to, crawlers aren’t going to find that page and index it to display in search results. If you don’t want that page found, that’s fine (though I’d use a robots.txt file for that– more on that in another post) but if you do, make sure there are a few links pointing there.
Too Much of a Good Thing
So, how many links is too many? There’s really no hard and fast rule, but the general guideline is no more than 100 links per page, though there’s a lot of debate in the SEO community about that.
Why 100? It was kind of a soft-math approach Moz took a while back, and even though Google has since dropped that line of thought, it’s still a good guideline. Anything more and you really need to evaluate your page and ask yourself if every link is necessary. This includes all the links on a given page, not just within the body of your post. Navigation, blogroll sidebars, and footer links all count towards that 100 number. That’s not to say that you should be manually counting links until you get to 99, but if you’re linking something in every other sentence, maybe pull back a little bit.
Why does that even matter, aside from managing spammy sites? It’s kind of like how Blue Ivy’s inheritance went down from $1 billion to $33 million when Bey got pregnant with twins. The more links a page has, the more the authority of that original page is split up into smaller increments to each linked page.
A Word on Anchor Text
Rarely do I see the bloggers I follow doing this, but repeating the same anchor text over and over again begins to look spammy after a while, and Google doesn’t like spam. Anchor text is the actual text that displays to your user as the hyperlink, and it sends a signal to crawlers as to what that page is going to be about. If you’re writing a post about the Tantus Uncut #1 and tout the benefits of the Tantus Uncut #1 as well as the disadvantages of the Tantus Uncut #1, it becomes a little difficult to read your Tantus Uncut #1 review. It doesn’t read well. Make sure the pages you link to are useful and relevant, and that your anchor text is varied, and you’ll be fine.
SEO is complicated and takes into account more than 200 different things. If you’ve got questions, I have answers. I’m on Twitter, I have a contact form, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I respond to the Bat Signal and carrier pigeons… you can reach me in lots of ways.
On Wednesdays, we wear pink. On Saturdays, we talk about SEO for Sex Bloggers. Find me on Twitter for the latest updates every weekend!