We all know that link popularity is important to achieving better search engine rankings. Common methods to acquire these links are multi-faceted and vary greatly in approach.
Back in the "good ol’ days", link swapping/reciprocal linking was the standard method for growing a site's link popularity. Reciprocal linking has since become known as a possible ranking killer, due to link farms and the like. When dealing with inbound links from external sources, one way links are the only way to go. With the advent of social sites (Digg, etc.) there are a number of other wonderful avenues to pursue to help with these efforts.
Webmasters and site owners often overlook the fact that you can take advantage of your own site's popularity to better link your web pages internally.
In my last column , I addressed Section 508 compliance. Part of achieving Section 508 compliance is making sure that you are linking to your pages using keywords within the anchor text to describe the destination page. So, once again, we find that working towards making your Web site Section 508 compliant also goes a long way towards making your Web site more search engine friendly.
Incorporating Internal Links by Design
One of our clients is ConferenceCall.com. They have agreed to let me share this success story with you, so long as I include a link to their site within this article. To me, that sounded pretty fair -- and getting coverage by media or publications specific to the clients' industry is a common way to obtain reputable links, of course.
ConferenceCall.com has maintained a pretty consistent ranking for the most important bucket of keywords associated with what they do (“conference call”, “conferencing calling”, “conference calling services”). It wasn’t until fairly recently that they decided to focus more on the growing “web conferencing” industry. If you check out their site, you will see that they now have the words “web conferencing” in their main navigation, in the drop downs and in the left navigation area. You’ll also see mentions of the words “web conferencing” within the body copy. All of these mentions of web conferencing link to the content section for web conferencing on their Web site.
Prior to making these changes, ConferenceCall.com did not rank within the top 100 results on Google for either “web conferencing” or “web conferencing services”. You’ll now see them at #23 for “web conferencing” and #5 for “web conferencing services”.
The really nice part about this is that these links took very little effort to achieve and they’re extremely relevant. They assist both in achieving Section 508 compliance and in helping ConferenceCall.com grow their business.
Another example that I can share with you is work that we did for Cookies By Design. As many gift giving Web sites are set up, they allow visitors to “shop by occasion” or “shop by holiday”. Originally, they employed words such as “Admin Week”, “Mother’s Day”, and “Father’s Day” as links to these specific pages within their site in their navigation. Once again, with very little effort, we were able to include keywords into these links (now reading “Admin Week Gifts”) and help to create a better internal linking structure.
And, with that change, they now rank #1 for Admin Week Gifts on Google. All the while, this technique actually has helped us include vital keywords words such as “gifts” and “gift baskets” in many more places on their Web site. While much of their home page is image-based, we were able to find a way to help increase keyword density without impacting usability of the Web site.
While we continue to utilize all avenues of growing our clients' link popularity, we find that sometimes the easiest links to achieve can have better results than many of the other avenues that we might explore.
The Take Away on Internal Links
I am suggesting that you work with your copywriters on finding good ways to re-work the copy of your Web site to include keywords within each page. While you’re doing this, you should consider ways to cross-promote your products/services and link to these pages using the keywords that describe them.
Back in the day, link generation was one of the most time consuming components to a search engine optimization program. By taking a little time to consider what you can do with your own Web site, you might just get some significant results with very little effort. And, obviously, writing articles for a search engine optimization publication is another great way to grow your link popularity!
Sorry... but you know I had to do it.