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Thursday, February 3, 2011

5 Fast Tips to Improve Internal Links

This guest post was written by James Hay, Social Media Coordinator for Fasthosts Internet Ltd.

Playing to your strengths is an important part of SEO, and before going out and spending all day endlessly pursuing external links, it is important to look at your own site.

You control what is displayed on your site and the SEO tips below provide a number of ways to increase your rank strength and improve your blog’s internal link architecture.

Just in case you’ve not come across the phrase “Internal Linking” before, here’s a quick definition from SearchPath:

The process whereby words or phrases within a web page are linked to other pages in the site. Internal links are considered important in SEO terms, as they are often spidered and displayed by Google.

So here are my top five tips to help you improve your internal link architecture.

Ensure that the keyword(s) you’re trying to get ranked for is used as your anchor text (the text within the link). For example, if the phrase you are trying to get ranked for is “Internal Links”, and the page you want people to find for that phrase is your article “Guide to Internal Linking”, then use that phrase as the anchor text for your link. The search engine spiders will then understand what your target page is about, and it will increase the content’s ranking strength for that phrase.

Although there is no empirical evidence to say that search engines spiders prefer absolute URLs (i.e. http://yourdomain.com/pagetitle.html) over relative URLs (i.e. /pagetitle.html), it is good practice to use absolute URLs. It help spiders determine exactly where the page is located on your site, and if your content gets copied, then at least the links will point back to your website.

The speed at which your pages load certainly affects your page rank. I recommend using Google Webmaster Tools and adding a sitemap to your blog. You can then look at your site performance and how quickly your pages load. Google seems to regard 1.5 seconds or less as a good load time. Compress any large images and refine unnecessary code to help speed up your site.

Although search engines are improving all the time, the search engine spiders still have difficulty crawling non-text navigation menus. It is advisable to use text menus rather than those that require Flash or JavaScript.

It’s important to keep in mind that search engine spiders love to move freely and quickly through your site, which is why I’ve provided the tips above. But one thing that spiders really dislike is hitting a dead-end, and broken links are the cause of this. The Google Webmaster Tools can also identify broken links on your blog. Go through those links and either remove them, or change the anchor text and redirect the link to a valid page.

These are my top tips for improving internal links on your blog. What others can you add?

This article was written by James Hay, Social Media Coordinator at Fasthosts Internet Ltd and the main contributor to the Fasthosts Blog which provides advice on everything from B2B Marketing to Social Networking.


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