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Correctly Hyperlinking Your Site
September 17, 2004
Professional SEOs know that using hyperlinks within a page is one solid tip to gaining ground in the search engines, especially those that reward both on-page and off-page factors. However, many go overboard and while their sites rank well, they have a high abandon rate due to the page looks as if it is one solid hyperlink. I will go through and explain how to properly balance between a high-conversion page and one that will rank well in the engines.
The one area that is most often overlooked is that your site is a single entity. Instead, look at it as a collection of small islands, not a continent. Use this image in your head as you link internally. Refer often to other pages in your site for more information, and your site will receive "double-duty". It will get a relevancy score for the text on the page, and for the anchor text of the link coming in and going out. As an example, my site has a page (surprisingly) on search engines. There are hyperlinks on the page, but they are carefully selected. One of them is "Google PageRank Uncovered". This links to my article on uncovering Google's PageRank system. The page it links to was ranked #32 in Google, but hit the #1 spot after this internal link was added. Internal linking inside of your site is vital, and remember, to use absolute links when you want PageRank to funnel through the link and relative links when you want the PageRank to remain on the page.
As a strong reminder, pick out the phrases you hyperlink carefully. It is not advised to hyperlink a long string of text. Keep it to three words or less. You want your page to still be readable to your potential client! If your page is littered with hyperlinks, your page will be abandoned.
Why does this work? In the example above, the keyword "Google PageRank Uncovered" was used as a hyperlink. Notice that the Title of the page it links to is "Uncovering Google PageRank", and not "Google PageRank Uncovered". This was done to show you the power of the internal incoming link, that the page could rank #1 from an internal link alone. By including hyperlinked or anchor text with a targeted keyword phrase, it shows the engine that this target page is relevant for this phrase. Now, with Google, who is very strong with off-page factors, it ranks #1. Conversely, Yahoo! who is strong with on-page factors ranks the page #3. Granted, in this test, the keyword phrase has very few competitors (43), but it was used to show how a simple change could take it from the bottom of the listings to the top.
By concentrating on your internal linking structure, you have full control of how your site is viewed by the search engines. Analyze your linking structure carefully. Ensure that it meets the needs of your visitors first, the search engines second and your site will rank higher and convert better. After all, you are after sales, not traffic.