You know the importance of great content when it comes to both increasing your ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) and for engaging your customers. But are you aware of the importance of a solid linking structure as well? The combination of both content and links (both internal and external) is crucial to improving your SEO and increasing your ranking when it comes to organic search rankings.
If you are unsure how to go about developing a solid linking structure for your website, as well as why this concept is so important, keep reading for tips and background knowledge on this issue.
Understanding natural search rankings
Before we get into the actual linking structure, it is important to understand why this is even important in the first place. As you likely know, there are two separate sets of search results that come up on Google (or any other search engine). First are paid results, which are completely different from what we are discussing here. The other results are organic results, which is what is impacted by the quality of your content and your linking structure.
Google takes numerous factors into consideration when deciding which results display at the top of results pages. While we don’t have a concrete list of factors, we do know a lot about what Google finds important when deciding how to rank pages. Content is one of those factors, which is why producing quality content is crucial for the success of your brand (well, just one of many reasons it is important!) Another factor is, of course, links. In short, links help determine relevancy of pages, and without being relevant, your page isn’t going to show up anywhere near the top of results pages.
While you should devote plenty of time to developing your content, without also taking the time to develop both external and internal links, you won’t get a whole lot of recognition for the content you spend so much time creating. Both factors certainly go hand and hand, so don’t fall into the trap of just focusing on one and ignoring the other.
Creating internal links
This first type of link, as you will see, will be much easier to develop on your own. As the name suggests, these links situate themselves within your own website, linking various pages to each other. For example, if you are a fashion brand writing a blog post on the versatility of a black shoe, you might link to a page on your website where you have black shoes available to purchase. Or, on your homepage you may discuss various topics related to your overall brand, and include links to blog posts that discuss those topics in further detail.
The above example is taken from fashion brand H&M’s online fashion magazine. They regularly produce content that incorporates items of clothing that they sell. The bottom of each article features links to the specific pieces mentioned so that readers can easily navigate to the individual product pages and make a purchase if they want to.
Again, Google views links as signals of relevance, therefore the more links that point to a specific page, the more relevant Google will view that page. However, this does not mean that you should insert links all over the place on your website. The links should all make sense and only show up where it is logical and where customers will find them useful and click on them.
Blogs are one of the greatest ways to set up internal linking opportunities. With the blog, you can create content that incorporates products that you have for sale on your website (like with the shoe or H&M examples we discussed earlier). This gives you a natural opportunity to insert a link to point to your specific product pages.
Developing external linking opportunities
External links are also incredibly valuable, in fact many would argue are more valuable than internal links. These links occur on websites outside of your own that point back to your piece of content. These links are a great signal of relevance to Google, as they prove your content is authoritative and valuable enough that other sites wish to include it on their own. As you can imagine, these links are harder to acquire. They involve working with other brands and getting them to link to your work. This may happen naturally (say someone is researching a blog post, finds your content, and links to it on their blog). However, especially for newer brands, these links aren’t going to come about quite as easily.
We recently discussed ways for newer brands to build external links in another article which you can read here. There are plenty of ways to get external links, also called backlinks, such as by writing a testimonial, as is seen in the above example. Countless other ways exist to accumulate backlinks, so don’t get discouraged or overwhelmed by their importance. With time and patience you can develop a network of backlinks that will help your pages rank higher on SERPs.
We spend a lot of time on the importance of good content, and there is good reason for it. However, don’t neglect other aspects of your SEO. Without internal and external links, you will find your best pieces of content nowhere near the top of results pages. Create opportunities for internal links, reach out to influencers and other brands for external linking opportunities, and you will be well on your way to increasing your rankings in no time.