Who can refuse free links? Especially when you can instantly boost the authority of your most important pages instantly.
I’ve seen firsthand when we’ve used internal link building and have seen great improvements in our rankings.
Our team has tested different ideas. I am going to share what has worked in our case. Every case is different so please consider the project before you copy what I am proposing in this post. I guess this is my “disclaimer”.
Using the homepage as leverage
If you’ve read my category optimization article, you’ll know that I split up my content to rank for top-of-the-funnel keywords. You can thank Kristina for reminding us all to take our categories more seriously if we want to rank for higher traffic keywords.
Your homepage is the most powerful page to link out from. You have to be clever about this. Here are some questions that pop into my head:
- Is the page important enough to show on the homepage?
- Is it relevant to show products on the homepage? This can be done if a visitor visits your website, puts something in the cart and doesn’t buy it. You can showcase these products on the homepage.
- Have you asked your customers/clients what they value most? You might be surprised with your results if you focus on pain pint SEO.
In our case, we displayed the top brands on the homepage. The brand plus the keyword we’re targeting gets tens of thousands of search volume each month. Clearly, the intent is there. We just have to present the information people are asking for.
Let me share the results of our work for some of these keywords.
We’re not on the first page yet but we’re well on our way (keep in mind that this website is less than a year old). I haven’t even started a link building campaign or optimized these pages to their fullest potential.
We have eight more brands with similar numbers. In one case, a few keywords are getting 90,000+ searches a month.
Should you use this strategy? I am not sure but if you’ve got an eCommerce website, I would definitely test this idea. If your website is well established, I am sure you’ll have great results.
Categories on your homepage
Depending on the nature of your website, you can showcase the primary categories or your top categories right on the homepage. Remember, it has to make sense. Otherwise, you’re just guessing.
In our case, we have dozens of categories for one of our eCommerce websites. What did we do? We took the most popular categories and displayed them all on the homepage:
We’re testing new ideas where we will remove these categories and see if it affects our rankings. I have a feeling it won’t have an effect but we’ll see.
Using breadcrumbs for internal links
Breadcrumbs are self-explanatory. Google loves them, I love them and your visitors will love them. Especially, if you have a large website.
Let’s take it a step further. I am going to recommend you add structured data to your breadcrumbs. Google is begging us to help them crawl our website. Why not give them a hand. After all, they own the search market.
In their own words:
Google Search uses breadcrumb markup in the body of a web page to categorize the information from the page in search results. Often, as illustrated in the following use cases, users can arrive at a page from very different types of search queries. While each search may return the same web page, the breadcrumb categorizes the content within the context of the Google Search query.
You can learn more about Google’s advanced SEO tactics for breadcrumbs here.
Using compatible products on individual product pages is not for all websites but it works for us. Most of our products need other parts to work properly.
With this strategy, we not only ensure internal links but semantically show Google the relationship with a part and other components which are required for the part to work.
Home Depot showcases “customers who viewed this item bought” on the product page. They also show “Accessories” and “More from this collection. Take a look below:
I just noticed a UX issue on their product pages when writing this post with their breadcrumbs.
Having the product number versus the name of the product (Milwaukee Tool M12 FUEL 12V Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Stubby 1/2-inch Impact Wrench) would be a lot more user friendly. It’s a small issue but I bet it would help their customers a lot more.
Finally, you can interlink the other related categories on each product page. Again, this tactic works for us because one product can be compatible with multiple parent products. It helps us index our main categories and a great way to create an eco-system for each product.
Our blog gets most of our traffic so it’s essential for us to link back to category and product pages.
In each post, we highlight the related categories right at the top of the blog page. We also display related parts in each post.
This ensures our readers get a chance to see the products available on our website. It also helps us pass authority and relevance to other pages directly related to each post.
Bonus internal link building tactics/guidelines
The full guide to internal link building by Kevin Indig is absolutely fantastic. It’s a long read and assuming y’all are pretty advanced, I’ll highlight the main points in the advanced section of his post.
- Try not to link out too much – Large websites might have a few hundred but a few thousand is a bit much.
- Try to link out to authoritative sources.
- Use the internal anchor text of the keyword you’re targeting.
- Links in the footer have become worthless.
- Google can now crawl JS links.
- There is no reason to nofollow an internal link.
- Try to keep the click-depth to 3.
- Your internal links help with the crawl budget.
- Link to a single page only once on a page. No need to do it twice.
- Avoid linking to pages that are not important.
These were the most important advanced internal link building strategies on Kevin’s post in my opinion.
Internal link building is an SEO tactic our company takes seriously. We’re always testing ideas to see what works for users and search engines alike.
There are no silver bullets like I’ve mentioned in many of my posts. You just have to sit down, map your website and find the best possible way to build internal links.
I always revisit this topic once every quarter and come up with ways to help improve our rankings through our own website. If internal links help us improve our rankings by holding Google’s hand when they come to our website, then so be it.
Let me know if you have any questions. Until next time, catch you all on my next post.