It is the foundation for building SEO champions.
An impressive internal linking content hierarchy weaves everything together.
Without a good linking structure, how will people (or bot crawlers) know what the most important and valuable pages are on your website?
Let’s find out together.
Understanding Content Hierarchy
What is Content Hierarchy?
Content hierarchy is the structure and organisation of the content on your website.
It’s about arranging your webpages and their content in logical order.
Think of it as creating a map that guided both users and search engines through your site, effortlessly:
Imagine you’re building a house.
You wouldn’t start with the roof; you’d begin with the foundation, then the walls, then the roof.
This is the style that your website should follow: foundational content first, and more specific content branching out from it.
For example, let’s use a blog on digital marketing:
- Homepage: Where your blog begins, offering an overview of your content.
- Categories: Under the homepage, you might have categories like “SEO”, “Social Media Marketing”, “Content Marketing”, etc. These represent the walls of your hierarchy, each dedicated to specific content.
- Individual Posts: Within each category, you have individual blog posts. These are like the bricks that make up the walls; they provide detailed information on niche topics within the category.
Why is Content Hierarchy Crucial for SEO?
The importance of this in SEO cannot be underestimated.
Here are a couple reasons why:
1. User Experience
When users visit your website, they expect to find information that’s easy to navigate and understand.
Content hierarchy makes sure that visitors can quickly find what they’re looking for, reducing bounce rates and increasing engagement.
2. Search Engine Rankings:
Search engines like Google use algorithms to rank websites.
A well-structured website makes it easier for search engines to crawlers to index your site and understand its relevance to various search queries.
This, in turn, can positively impact your position in search results.
Now onto Internal Links
What are they?
Internal links are hyperlinks that connect pages on your website.
They shape the user’s journey through your website.
These links are different from external links, which point to pages and sources on other sites.
Internal links can be textual (embedded within anchor text), or navigational (found in menus or sidebars).
The presence of an internal link helps distribute link juice (the SEO value passed from one page to another through links).
Types of Internal Links
Before we get into how internal links support content hierarchy, let’s look at the different types that you’ll encounter:
1. Contextual Links:
These are links found within the content of a page.
They often link to related articles, products, or services, giving even more valuable information to the reader.
ie. If you’re writing a blog post about “On-Page SEO Techniques”, you might include links to articles like “Keyword Research Guide” or “Optimising Meta Tags”.
2. Navigational Links:
Found in menus, sidebars, or footers.
They serve as a roadmap for users, helping them explore different sections of your website.
In iur previous example of a digital marketing blog, navigational links coils include items like “SEO”, “Social Media” and “Content Marketing”.
They take you to new pages.
3. Footer and Sidebar Links:
While these links are often considered less important, they still play their part in internal linking.
It makes sure essential information can be found regardless of where someone is on the site.
How Internal Links Support Content Hierarchy
Internal links are the glue that hold your content hierarchy together.
They provide a user roadmap, distribute link juice strategically, enhance site crawlability, boot keywords and reduce bounce.
Let’s look at each of these in detail:
Internal links serve as signposts for your site visitors, guiding them from one piece of content to another.
When a user lands on a webpage, strategically placed internal links can direct them to related articles, products or services.
It can keep them engaged and prolong their visit to your site.
Distributing link juice strategically:
Link juice is the SEO value passed from one page to another through internal links.
When you link from a high-authority page to a lower-authority page, you’re basically sharing some of the SEO value and boosting the latter’s visibility in search rankings.
This distribution can help your most important pages rank higher.
For example, if your homepage has a high-authority do to its backlinks and traffic, you can link to category or blog pages to pass on some authority.
Enhancing site crawlability:
Search engine crawlers rely on links to navigate the web.
When you include internal links that connect all your pages, you ensure that bots can easily find and index everything.
This is crucial for making sure all your content gets ranked and displayed.
Think about a scenario where you run an e-commerce website selling tech.
If you have a category page for “Phones” and individual pages for the models, internal links to each product page guarantee they get indexed.
Boosting keyword relevance:
Internal links give you an opportunity to reinforce content for specific keywords.
When you link to a page wit keyword-rich anchor text, you’re telling search engines that the linked page is relevant for those exact keywords and synonyms.
This can improve your chances of ranking for those keywords.
Continuing with the digital marketing example, say you want to improve the ranking of a blog post about “Email Marketing Best Practices”.
You can include internal links from other relevant blogs using anchor text like “Email Marketing Strategies” or “Email Marketing Tips”.
Make sure you don’t have any duplicate anchor texts linking to the same post, this can appear as link stuffing.
Reduce Bounce Rates:
Bounce rate measure the percentage of visitors who leave your site after only viewing one page.
High bounce rates negatively affect your SEO efforts.
Internal links encourage users to explore your site more, reducing bounce.
Best Practices for Using Internal Links
Now that we know the significance of internal links in supporting content hierarchy, let’s explore some of the best practices for doing it well:
- Before you start adding internal links, audit your content.
- Evaluate your existing content and identify areas for user experience journeys.
Anchor Text Optimisation:
- When creating your links, pay attention to the anchor text.
- Use descriptive and relevant text that gives users and crawlers a clear idea of what to expect on the other side.
- Think about where you place your internal links.
- While contextual links within your content are valuable, don’t neglect navigational links and sidebars.
- Strike a balance with your linking for UX and SEO optimisation.
Consistency and Relevancy:
- Make sure your links make sense with the content they point to.
- Avoid adding irrelevant links that could confuse people and bots alike.
Mobile Friendly Internal Links:
- Links should be easy to click and navigate on mobile screens.
- Mobile-friendly design is not only crucial for UX, but also for SEO.
- Search engines like Google consider mobile-friendliness in its rankings.
Measuring Internal Link Effectiveness
Being able to measure and analysing data is incredibly useful when you want to decide on where to go next.
Key Performance Indicators:
1. Organic Traffic Increase:
One of the primary objectives of internal linking is to improve your site’s visibility in search results.
Monitor the organic traffic to the pages you’ve linked to.
A significant increase in organic traffic to those pages can indicate your internal links are guiding crawlers to valuable content.
2. Bounce Rate Reduction:
A high bounce means people ain’t liking what they’re seeing.
Effective internal linking should encourage users to explore more of your site.
Keep and eye on the bounce rate for pages with internal links to see if it decreases over time.
3. Average Session Duration Improvement:
This measures how long users are spending on your site.
A good internal linking structure should lead to to longer sessions as users go to new related content.
Analyse if pages with internal links have longer average sessions compared to those without.
This lets you easily add internal links to and from posts.
You can see the links going to a page, if there are any duplicate anchor texts, have an overview of your internal linking structure and more.
2. Google Analytics:
It gives you valuable insights into user behaviour on your site.
To track the effectiveness of your links, go to the “Behaviour” section and use the “Site Content” reports.
Specifically, look at the “Navigation Summary” to see how users move from one page to the other.
3. Analytical Tools:
They can help you monitor how your pages are ranking in search results, for specific keywords, and the traffic surrounding the page.
Results can be directly impacted by internal linking.
This, also known as split testing, is a technique to assess the impact of different link placements and variations on user behaviour.
By comparing two versions of a page with different internal linking strategies, you can decide which fits better for your goals.
Steps for A/B testing Internal Link Placements:
- Choose the pages: One version with the current link placement and one with a proposed change.
- Set clear goals: Define the specific test goals, like increasing page views, bounce rates or time on page.
- Change it: Make the changes needed to the links on one of the versions.
- Split traffic: Use A/B testing tools or platforms to split your site traffic between two versions equally.
- Monitor results: Compare the performance results to decide which strategy is better.
- Change it again: Change the page to the winning placement style.
A good content hierarchy starts with linking.
Internal linking creates a journey through your website.
In understanding what it is, what it does and how to look after the SEO, you can build a strong internal linking strategy that boosts your rankings.
Try using WILO to streamline your linking ventures, and it’s always worth reaching out to SEO professionals if you want to give your site a complete SEO makeover.