Today we’re diving into advanced SEO land with internal contextual linking and links to how it can help online marketing efforts in Brisbane (given that we’re based here), but in a way that should readily translate to other cities and non-geo-specific terms. If you’re just getting started with SEO you should read our blog on what to consider before starting SEO
Right off the bat, we should explain that this is part of SEO, so hopefully you’re keeping a collection of our SEO related blogs. If you’re someone who’s trying to implement whatever they’re able as a business or internal staff member as it’s only one of many elements when it comes to this channel (organic search traffic). However, it is entirely possible if you have keywords that you almost rank for (say middle to top of page 2 in search results) that this activity alone could push you over the line as we’ve seen it happen more than a few times. So with that said, let’s dive in!
What is internal contextual linking?
Put simply, internal linking is when a link points from one page of your website to another page of your website. To show you what we mean, here is a site map that shows the relationship between pages on the Hydra Digital website. You can see how parts of the website are linked to others.
As a part of any good SEO or another digital marketing campaign, you should be thinking about the way the information on your website is structured. It needs (as with anything SEO related) to be done in a relevant and user-friendly manner. This is why we use the term “internal contextual linking” rather than just “internal linking”. So what do we mean by this?
To drill right down to the nitty-gritty, let’s say you have a page on your site about “IT Support in Brisbane”. That might be a great page for those in no rush or doing research, but what if the person who has landed on that page actually needs emergency support? For this reason, it would make sense to talk about “Emergency IT Support in Brisbane” as a natural matter of course within the body text and link to that page. This is a practice that should translate across the entire site and while we’re well aware that most businesses do implement this whenever they happen to think about it, they most often do not sit down while building their site and actively look for opportunities to create such contextual links between the information on their site, let alone how that might all connect in terms of keyword planning and the broader website structure. But let’s explain that a little further.
Why is it important to search engines & online marketing?
Unlike a lot of things to do with SEO, this part is refreshingly easy to explain. Basically, Google crawls your site/pages in a “top-down” manner (graphic here perhaps?). This is the reason that we always suggest main menus that allow for navigation to anywhere onsite from anywhere else onsite because it creates internal linking and ensures that as many pages as possible are immediately put front and centre to be crawled.
Internal contextual links also serve this purpose because a link to a page that doesn’t make it into the main menu on a page that does means that page is only one level of crawling deeper, so it’s less likely to be lost in the process. However internal contextual linking also serves to reinforce with search engines that your website is as helpful to users as possible because it references supporting information and/or redirects those who might have landed on the wrong page to the correct place. It also shows that you do have such information and are doing everything you can to provide everything the end user could need. This approach is rewarded for obvious reasons with better organic rankings.
It’s important to keep a record.
As we’ve already said, it will occur to most businesses when building their sites that there will be a need to flag supporting information or pages here and there, but you need to get much more methodical than that. Create a spreadsheet and paste in every URL on your website. We’d recommend using a pretty great free tool called Screaming Frog to find all of your URLs if you’re short on budget or not generally in an agency.
Once you’ve got them all in a spreadsheet, take a look at each page and look within the body text to see where it might make sense to link to somewhere else on site. Create the link, log on the sheet where that URL is linking to and the keywords this might be targeting (more on that in a second) and before you know it you’ll have every page on your site increasingly likely to be crawled and linked together in a way that looks good to Google.
It should be informed by your information architecture (website structure).
While implementing any element of SEO (such as the topic of this blog) will likely have some effect, it’s really all part of a complex web of interlocking factors. Without a doubt, the most important element is the way your information is structured in the first place, which we call “information architecture”. We cover this off in a previous blog so we’d recommend reading that for a better rundown. But long story short, that process will put you in a position to know exactly what keywords you’re targeting on a page by page basis.
This matters because when you’re considering adding internal contextual linking to your site, the research already done as part of that architecture will help you know which keywords to target. What we mean by this is that when you’re creating an internal contextual link, it needs anchor text. You can find a much better definition of that here, but to put it simply, the words within the body text that reference information on another page should be the link itself. When you know which keywords you’re targeting, it makes it easier to find those references as you can simply “CTRL+F” (find) those keywords within the text in most cases. Also if you’re tracking how well you rank for all the keywords the information architecture research produced, then you may also be able to find a few quick wins as we outlined earlier. If you’re top of page two for a particular keyword and can implement a bit of internal contextual linking around it, this might (there are too many factors not to stress that it’s a maybe) push you over the line. At the very least it will be more points toward the goal.
A side note: external linking.
If you’ve been wondering whether or not linking from your website to external sites matters, simply re-read the last few paragraphs. You’ll notice we’ve been linking to external sources. While it’s hardly a hard-hitting tool in the arsenal, we have had occasions where this activity alone has produced rankings for a few lower competition keywords. Meaning it should absolutely be a part of your plan. Just be sure when you do implement external links that you ignore everything we said about using the keywords as the anchor text because the opposite is the case in those situations. Search engines do not like exact keyword match anchor text when you’re linking out, only when you’re linking internally. But we have an entire blog coming on that in the near future so stay tuned!
That’s it from us for the week. But as always if you’d like to know more or explore your options with regards to online marketing in Brisbane or anywhere else in Australia then please feel free to get in touch!