Internal links are often overlooked in favour of high quality backlink opportunities. However, the links within your website are some of the most important aspects of a site’s architecture, how it is viewed by Google and therefore ultimately has an effect on its search positions. Internal links not only give your website structure, but they show how content and pages are related and transfer equity between important pages similar to that of incoming links. Internal link structure also plays a big part in user experience, by giving visitors a logical way to navigate your website and find information related to their intent. Having a good link building strategy that takes internal hierarchy and page depth into consideration will increase conversions and other good metrics including time-on-page and time-on-site. First things first – lets take a look at the basics of internal link building and the mechanics behind it:
- The more internal links pointing to a page, the more value it has in Google’s eyes. Similar to how backlinks indicate a high value source of information, internal links give Google a good idea of how important a page is in regard to the other content on your website.
- The importance of internal links are so obvious that Google now considers that 1,000 links per page is perfectly reasonable. This does, of course, include all links in the header, footer, sidebar and menus.
- You can help new pages get crawled by linking to and from fresh content
This brings us onto the next step – page depth. Lets take a look at how you can optimise your internal linking structure whilst also improving the overall organic SEO of your website by way of optimising crawl depth.
Reducing Click Depth to Boost Rankings
Click depth – the amount of clicks it takes to get to a required page when starting from the homepage – matters in SEO. Pages that are ‘closer’ to the homepage are seen as more prominent and therefore receive more positive attention from Google. That’s great news for websites that have pages buried deep that aren’t getting anywhere on the search results, as it’s a relatively quick and easy gain:
- Increase the number of ‘similar pages’, ‘if you like this you may be interested in…’ and ‘recommended pages / products’ on a given page. This not only boosts internal link structure, but may also help bring some of those deeper pages to a much more shallow level.
- Increase the number of high-level categories listed on the homepage, bringing items within those categories closer to the homepage.
- Cut down on pagination by increasing the number of items per page but also by the above point. Increasing the number of categories will decrease the number of items per category.
By putting the above points into place, not only are many pages reduced in terms of click depth, but generally the website will be crawled far quicker by Google and therefore indexed much more efficiently. This strategy is often very effective for eCommerce websites, where masses of products and categories can make your website bloated and difficult to crawl. By segmenting products and categories into logical, digestible ‘chunks’, pages will be crawled more efficiently, user experience is improved and you can reap the rewards of a better internal link hierarchy. To put it simply, internal linking and click depth should be taken into consideration in any good organic Search Engine Optimisation campaign.