Getting your link strategy right is paramount to creating a successful website and blog. A site’s linking strategy is intricately tied to other key elements of site performance, including SEO, site architecture, UX, content marketing campaigns, and marketing metrics like bounce rate or time on page. Building out a blog with solid linking practice can (and does) help you:
- Drive more traffic to your site
- Improve brand recognition
Google has always maintained that they are the impartial arbiters and sorters of information on the internet, helping deliver the most accurate answers to customers queries as they possibly can. With over 92% of the internet market share and processing over 40,000 search queries every second, you know they need to have a pretty accurate measurement system in place to pull up the most accurate answers, and linking is a crucial part of their overall site measurement toolkit. In order to enjoy more traffic and increased brand recognition, you’ve got to get your blog linking strategy down pat.
Internal vs External Linking: What’s the Difference?
In order to make the most out of a linking strategy, you need to be solid on the different types.
- Internal linking is when a site links (via a textual hyperlink) to another page within the same site.
- External linking is when a site links to another site on the web.
Why Is Linking Important?
Linking is important because it helps searchers and Google better understand the content and relevance of your site in relation to other sites in their index. A link is like a citation, and in linking to another site you are extending some of your domain authority to them (you’re essentially vouching for them). On the one hand, a blog with a healthy mix of internal and external links contributes to Google’s vision of the internet—a vast, interconnected network of websites that reference each other and work together to produce new knowledge. On the other hand, a business blog that has healthy linking habits will bring tangible benefits in terms of:
- SEO. A healthy link mix promotes stronger domain authority because it shows Google you understand and respect their Webmaster Guidelines for linking best-practices. (A secondary benefit is also there for external linking in terms of knowledge transfusion, as Google validates the importance of a website based on who links to them, and how often.)
- Site architecture. Logical internal linking helps Google—and customers—find and surface the most relevant information on your site. A blog is like a launchpad for you to connect your readers throughout all the pages of your site.
- User experience. A relevant descriptive link in an article makes sense to a user and keeps them within your orbit. It also shows readers that you have expertise in this area which is a nice boost for brand recognition.
- Content marketing metrics. Content marketing is all about generating actionable content ideas around a product or service to get customers to complete a desired action. Linking to a specific landing page from a blog post is a natural way to drive customers to complete the desired action.
How Do You Link Effectively? The 3 Pillars of Linking
For a site that wants to generate revenue through Google, there is no secret sauce to linking your way to the top of a SERP. You want to become a master of Google’s recommendations and execute diligently over time. To help you do just that, I’ve put together three pillars of linking, based on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, that I use in developing link strategies. The three pillars are Relevancy, Consistency, and Depth.
- Hyperlink from descriptive text
- Be careful what you link to/only link to authoritative sites
- Create a logical linking structure within your site
- Use “nofollow” if you don’t want to vouch for a third-party site
- Practice the same linking strategies over time
- Create lots of content!
- Link to all pages on your site (including less popular/non-branded pages)
- Create a healthy mix of cross-channel linking between your platforms (social and website pages)
- Reference many different types of external sources
Building link strategies around these pillars will keep you in Google’s good books and help generate stronger user signals on your blog over time. Happy linking!