Do I have to explain what internal linking is to you ? Guess not. Am pretty sure that you know already much about it, however here are my two cents.
Internal Linking is the process when you place links within your site, between pages and thus control the Google Link juice (to a level) via text/image links.
Internal linking is crucial because -
1 – It affects your site structure a lot.
2 – It decides how the Google Link juice you’ve received from other sites (via backlinks) is distributed to your pages within the site.
3 – It decides to some extent, the important of a page/pages.
4 – It also give you some command over what keywords your lesser important pages on your site should rank for.
How do you control Internal Linking / Links ?
Most webmasters (on various old CMS’s ) basically set a foundation, and a structure and leave things at that. We don’t take any extra effort to link to internal pages, neither do we care about anchor texts linking to them.
So mostly, its the CMS that takes care of the internal links, so it happens through the main navigation pages, footer links, tag pages, homepage categories and the like.
What’s wrong with the default CMS system ?
Nothing is wrong as to say terribly wrong. But the fact is that nothing is too good either. Okay, let me put it this way. If you don’t take the extra effort to “try and control” the internal links then you’re letting a good opportunity go. Had you properly planned your internal linking strategy apart from the default one on your CMS, you could’ve saved some Google juice and could’ve ranked for a few more keywords on Google.
What SEO factors go in to planning an internal linking strategy ?
1. Anchor texts
Internal Links can play a huge role in deciding what keywords you rank for that particular page on the search engines. For example – If you has an article lets say – http://yourdomain.com/how-to-get-a-black-belt-in-karate and linked it from as many “vital” pages as possible with the anchor text “Karate Black Belt”, provided you have enough traction already on the page, you could get some extra mileage for the page corresponding to “Karate Back Belt”
Does that mean linking from every other page on the website to that page with the term “Karate Black Belt” ? Of course, not. For you to understand what pages to place the link on, read further.
2. Source page weightage
Selecting the right page/pages within your website is very crucial. Blindly placing links on all pages is like walking in the dark. Instead find out which are the most important pages from your site. They could be pages which have backlinks from other sources, pages which have higher page rank and pages that might appear on the sitelinks etc. These are indicators that the pages have already got enough traction so as to pass the google link juice to few other pages.
Example – If Page 2 on your site got popular, collected lot of backlinks from other sites, and has the next higher page rank compared to the homepage, then you can select it for leveraging on internal links. Having said that, don’t go over the top with it. Don’t go plug all your links on one page. Read further…
3. Context of the links
The context of the internal linking page also plays a big role in passing the right value to the linked pages. Make sure that the links are in context. Lets say you have a page called “Types of Belts in Karate”, which have gathered some backlinks and authority from sites elsewhere. Now if you have to link to the “Black Belt” page, this page would be the best, because it would be more in context than any other page.
Like the above factors, there are possibly other numerous factors like number of links, amount of text etc that decides the value of internal links. Make your own judgement while selecting the pages to link and selecting the pages to link.
Summary: Basically the idea of planning an internal linking strategy is either to balance and spread out link juice to all your pages, and ensure better crawling of the pages, or to leverage authority to certain crucial pages of your site and possibly rank them high on the search engines. Internal Linking strategy isn’t easy, a lot of the time goes in to doing your homework, finding out what your authority pages are, finding out pages that needs help with link juice etc. Blatant linking with automated scripts is something that I’d stay away from completely.