When building your strategy for increasing ranking of your keywords, we often look at several ranking factors:
Link building - which is in my opinion the hardest SEO activity
on page optimisation
Don't get me wrong, I will not say these tactics don't work because they still do. However, the problem with them is that, especially for link building, they often involve a skillset that is hard to find on any SEO specialist:
PR and outreach skills
and lots of time
Link building involves lots of PR activity, you need to establish relationships with bloggers in your niche, you need to produce extremely awesome content and start PR campaigns. It's not only time consuming, but also really hard to accomplish.
As you have guessed from the title of this post, there is something else that you can do, internal linking. This is often an overlooked activity in SEO, I am not sure why, maybe because it seems too easy to complete and SEOs stay away from easy tasks? There is a common belief that SEO is very difficult (which it is), so every type of easy task is not very well seen. If it's too easy, there is something wrong with it.
But not in the case of internal linking, it really is easy and it works very well too.
Internal linking only involves linking your own content within pages of your own website. As long as you have access to the website CMS, anyone can do it.
Internal linking works really well as I have tested it recently and I was completely surprised by the positive results I have seen.
One keyword on position #4 jumped to position #2 within 2 days only.
In this post I will tell you what is internal linking and how you can exploit this technique to start climbing the rankings.
What is internal linking?
Internal links that connect two pages within the same domain to one another. The way these pages link is through an Anchor text, the text upon which the link is placed. As we know, anchor text can impact keyword ranking.
For example, if you want to rank for "red sport shoes" you might want to link red sport shoes related pages using the anchor text "red sport shoes". You don't want to link using the anchor text "white snow shoes", it doesn't make any sense and it's misleading for the user.
Google said last year:
If you’re updating anchor text internally to make it more easily understandable by users, then usually that also helps search engines to better understand the context of those pages.
How does internal linking help rankings?
A clear and understandable anchor text will help Google understand what the topic of your next page is, even before Google starts crawling it. If you repeat the same anchor text for a given keyword on multiple pages within your website, you give emphasis to the said keyword and Google will take note and understand what your keyword focus is. Then Google puts this into accounts with rankings.
Which keywords can you internal link?
There are keywords for which you want to rank for. It's important that said keywords match your core business, for example you can't be willing to rank for "red umbrellas" if you sell "white umbrellas". This is an obvious statement.
Let's answer this question with a case study I have recently worked on.
One of the keywords we were ranking on #4 on page 1 was "personal training courses". This website offers personal training courses, as the keyword suggests, so it's obvious that we wanted to rank better for personal training courses.
How to find keywords to improve ranking for?
You can use any SEO tool at your disposal to find out rankings for keywords that can be improved. I like to use SEMrush and Moz for this task. You can filter your keywords ranking to see only keywords on position 3 and below, but always on page 1, so you filter for keywords from 3 to 10.
The other thing you need to do is to filter by monthly search volumes, so your efforts will be boosted by much more traffic than if you, say, focus on keywords with 100 monthly search volumes.
This report will give you:
the list of keywords that you can potentially improve with internal linking.
Volumes of monthly searches that is worth spending your time
How do you know which pages to link from?
Now if you have a tool to identify internal links by keyword or anchor text, it's time to find those internal pages to link from. Once you have found them, the last step will be to login your CMS and start linking.
Grab a report by anchor text and make sure this anchor text includes at least one keyword for which you want to improve ranking for.
For example, if you want to improve "personal training courses", your anchor text filter would include "personal training" or related "personal trainer courses".
If you don't have such a tool, you can use one of the Google Search Operators.
Go to Google and type this:
site: your URL "your keyword"
Using the “Site” Search Operator we are able to pinpoint the instances of our target keyword across an entire site. Pretty cool, right?
As a result, we now have all of our present internal linking opportunities for said keywords right in front of us; this eliminates the need for guesswork and establishes what internal linking opportunities are immediately available to you.
How do you internal link?
Take all the results from your search operator and add the internal links to page your want to boost ranking for.
Now login to your CMS and link from those above pages to your page you need to boost.
Future Fit Training, the leading UK training company for personal training courses, was experiencing a stable ranking at #4 for "personal training courses", which is one of the most important keywords.
After implementing the internal links to more than 20 pages on the website with the same anchor text "personal training courses, you see the keyword starting to rank on position #3 more often than #4.
I guess it was internal linking.
Today, after only 2 weeks from implementing the changes, it's still too early to see a stable improvement, but at least the page starts to see the light on the top 3 positions on Google.