Most business owners who have even an elementary understanding of content online know that linking is important. However, what many do not realize is that there are many different kinds of linking, all of which have different benefits and different pitfalls. The two most basic (but important) types of linking to understand is internal and external linking. This then begs the inevitable question: Do they differences really matter when it comes to SEO?
Internal Linking 101
When someone says “internal linking” they simply mean a link that navigates between different webpages of your website. This is a great way to keep people on your site as long as possible and gives you the opportunity to help them learn more about a given topic by looking through your site as opposed to heading somewhere else. It’s hard to get all the information you need in one article, so linking internally is a huge help. Consider some of the other benefits:
- PageRank – Linking internally can help your page rank. This will help you move up to the top of search engine pages, so it can make a big difference when it comes to trying to improve the visibility of your brand. Although this doesn’t hold as much weight in terms of PageRank as someone else linking to your webpages, it doesn’t hurt.
- Navigation – As discussed above, having internal links can help your customers navigate your webpage. Most experts recommend having the page open on the existing page so that people will stay on your site longer, but as a reader I always prefer when an internal link opens a new webpage. You could also consider installing breadcrumbs on your website for even easier navigation.
- Index – Lots of internal links will help search engines classify your site quicker and more accurately. This could help readers find your site easier on search engines because it will help ensure that your site is indexed in the proper places.
The Know-Hows of External Linking
External links take readers from your website to another website. Although this may seem like a terrible idea, it can potentially have many benefits for both your company and your readers:
- Credibility – Chances are your website does not gather its own data and facts. For this reason, you will want to link to websites in order to give them credit for the information you are using. This will help readers see where you get your facts; thus improving your credibility.
- PageRank – Although linking to another site within your article will not help your PageRank, external linking will help if it is done to you. In other words, if another site is linking to your website, your PageRank will improve. Many websites utilize guest posting on other blogs—they offer free articles in exchange for what would be an external link back to their site.
- Traffic – Your traffic will certainly increase if you have reputable sites linking back to your site. Not only will you show up more on a Google search page because of your PageRank, but you will have new sets of eyes looking at your website.
The most important thing to remember about linking is that the links should be relevant. Linking just for the sake of linking will not fools readers, and it will most certainly not fool Google. As long as you can link, both internally and externally, in a natural way, you will find that linking is a small way to make a huge difference.
Photo Credit: thinkgeek.com
This is a guest post from Kristi Hines . It is part of The “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest.
There are many SEO tips that are not only good for search engines but they are very helpful for people looking for and perusing through your website. Here are nine SEO tips you can do to help search engines and visitors love your site.
1. Keywords and Research
If you choose the right keywords for your homepage and your internal pages, blog posts, etc., you will be helping visitors find what they are searching for easier. The best way to do this is to think of a keyword that fits your page, then a 2 – 3 word phrase that fits including that keyword. It’s really as simple as that.
- Google Adwords Keywords Tool
- Google Insights (plus ideas on how to use Insights)
- Microsoft Advertising Intelligence plugin for Excel (plus how to use it)
- Popular Searches
- Anchor text
The title tag is important because it is the heading for search engine listings and it is usually the anchor text when people bookmark your homepage, blog post, or single page on your website. The easiest way to create a title for your page is to include the keyword phrase you thought of during keyword research and include it in the up to 70 character description of your page.
3. Meta Descriptions
The meta description is essentially your sales pitch for your page when it comes up in search engines. It is also usually the description that is picked up when people bookmark your site socially. To create a good meta description, create a short sentence or two under 155 characters that includes the main keyword phrase for your page.
Meta Descriptions Resources
4. Header Tags
Header tags break up your page into easily digestible sections to help readability. Think of your page’s content in outline form – the header tags break up each main section of your text. Header tags should include keyword phrases you would like your page to rank for.
Also, note that the text right after your header tag can play a significant role. For example, I had an H3 header in one of my recent posts that said Most Valuable Guides (not the best keywords, but bear with me). In search results, without any other optimization, link building, etc., search engines pick up that phrase as follows:
So needless to say, header tags are valuable and need to be optimized as well as careful consideration given to the first sentence after the header tag as well.
<img src="seo-optimized-image.jpg" alt="A SEO Optimized Image" title="A SEO Optimized Image" />
To get the most out of your keywords and help break up text for visitors with something eye catching, be sure to include an image in your post with keywords in the filename, alt text, and title.
Where does the alt tag come into play outside of SEO? If you were visually impaired and using a screen reader, the alt text would be read to you by your program.
- SEO optimizing images.
- Creative Commons and Flickr image search
- Image copyright laws
- SEO friendly images WordPress plugin
6. Internal Linking
Once people get on your site, you want them to stick around and find more relevant content. Using internal linking will help them learn more about what your site has to offer, especially if you are using the right anchor text as a guide.
Internal Linking Resources
7. Link Building
So what benefit does link building have to offer potential visitors without mentioning any SEO benefits? When I am seeking out link building opportunities, I find that pages already offering their visitors resources for a particular topic. Link building is simply offering another site’s visitors more resources to choose from for more options.
Link Building Resources
8. Social Media
Social networking allows you to really connect with your website’s audience, which helps you learn more about their needs and create content, product, and services that will really appeal to them.
In link building, even though Twitter, for example, only gives you nofollow links, someone who sees your link through Twitter may like it so much that they link to it in their blog or elsewhere on their website, which essentially means that nofollow social media link turned into a dofollow one.
Also, it’s not just the social networking you do – it’s the social sharing you make possible. Installing buttons or widgets to make your site more socially sharable makes it easier for your visitors to tell the world about you!
Social Media Resources
- Top social media blogs
- Social media snapshot series: your hub, content, network, and impact, plus creating a dashboard on a spreadsheet.
- Add This, Add to Any, and WordPress plugins
9. Guest Blogging
Last but not least is the ever popular guest blogging. If you have expertise that others would benefit from, then guest blogging will help you share that knowledge with an even wider audience. If your visitors are also bloggers, you can even help them by guest blogging on their site, sending some of your visitors in their direction. The benefits to doing both of these (the right way) are really exponential in helping establish yourself as an authority in your industry.
Guest Blogging Resources
- My Blog Guest
- How guest blogging gets subscribers, links, and even a better Google ranking
- A comprehensive guest blogging guide
Your Thoughts on Search Optimization for Visitors
What ways do you optimize for SEO with your visitors in mind, and what tools and resources would you suggest to help other website and blog owners to do the same?