The Writing Phase: Everything you've ever wanted to know about LINKS!
Internal, external and everything in-between! In this lesson, we'll demystify the world of links, and how they relate to a complete and effective SEO strategy.
The Writing Phase Links.mp3
Oh hello friends. Welcome back! Danni here, from Surfer. This lesson is a really fun one. We're talking all about links. I don't know about you, but at least in my case, links used to be really challenging. I never really knew what they did, when to include them, and when not to include them. I made tons of silly mistakes like linking to brand new sites or not-so-trustworthy pages because frankly, I had no idea what I was doing! Luckily, my superpower is failing fast, and I've learned tons and I can't wait to share with you what I've learned.
Ready? Let's get to it!
There are two main types of “links”: internal and external.
External links are the ones that link to other domains. Internal linking means adding hyperlinks that lead to other pages on the same domain. If for example you’re writing a post about one topic, and you mention an aspect that you’ve already elaborated on in a different post, you’d link to that article even though it’s on your website.
Now I want to go into a bit more detail regarding no follow links. Have you heard of them? Once upon a time, spammy spammers used the comment section on blogs to build links, and try to rank specific keywords. Did I say once upon a time? That still happens sometimes, but the good thing is that since 2005, Google has allowed the no follow link as a way for the site host or owner to basically say: hey, I don’t know her… and I do not endorse this message.
Where does one place a no follow link? In the source code! Although it’s true that many Content Management systems make it easy for you to tag a link as no follow so you don’t always need to write it manually.
The no follow link has evolved throughout time, and since 2015, Google has allowed us to get even more specific. You have the “sponsored” option to denote advertisements, sponsorships, or links that are paid for in any way. And you’ve also got UGC which stands for user generated content. You know, for forums or comments that you want to flag as high-quality or trustworthy.
According to our pal Google: “Use the nofollow value when other values don't apply, and you'd rather Google not associate your site with, or crawl the linked page from, your site.”
All that to say: no follow used to be the default– you used it for any links that you couldn’t vouch for. Now, it’s a bit more nuanced. Before adding no follow to your links, ask yourself if it can fall into the UGC or Sponsored content area first!
One other note I’d like to include–because it can be confusing.
No follow vs no index:
If you’re using no follow to tell Google to overlook a particular page on your website, what you’re actually saying is: don’t crawl this page via this specific link. Google can find another way. If you want Google to avoid crawling a specific page you’ll need to add a No Index meta tag.
We also recognize incoming and outgoing links: incoming are all those links that lead TO our site, and outgoing are those that lead FROM our site.
For example, when you place different links on your landing page leading to some of the articles on the same domain, we would call them outgoing internal links.
But if someone else puts a link to your article on their website, we would call it an incoming external link.
Not only do these links help bring traffic to your site, they help establish you as an authority which we know is important to Google.
When you link to another site make sure it ticks these three boxes: It’s relevant. It’s trustworthy It’s high-quality
Every time you add an external link you’re sending traffic to their website and citing them as a trusted source.
So...Here’s how to create an effective internal link strategy!
Keep it relevant! Your website should be organized into clusters centered around one, main theme. Link to other related posts on your website.
If, for example, you’re working on a site you’re unfamiliar with, or which has hundreds of posts, here’s a hack: Type site:clientdomain.com “keyword, or keywords.” The search engine will show you all pages within your client’s domain that mention the topic you’re writing about. Anchors! You should differentiate your keywords when creating anchors! No piece of content in the web only ranks for one single keyword.
That’s not the best use of your time and energy! Gather the most relevant keywords and use them interchangeably. And lastly, no orphan pages! An orphan page is a page that’s not linked from any other place in the domain. As you add new content to your site, make sure you continuously update older posts.
In case it wasn’t super clear earlier, I want to circle back to the idea of linking to other pages on your site, or internal linking. One problem area that many content writers run into is how to make the connection between one page and the next.
This is where the concept of content clusters comes into play. Topic clusters are multiple pieces of content that are grouped based on their similar topic and subtopics.
A topic cluster is made up of the following components:
The main topic or keyword that defines the purpose of the cluster The pillar page that is usually the “money page,” or the main page of the cluster The supporting pages which cover subtopics Internal links which structure the cluster
I know this probably seems like a lot of information, but there’s a tool that Surfer has developed which makes defining content clusters very straightforward.
Each cluster contains a small number of relevant target keywords, along with the predicted monthly search volume and projected total traffic. This is essential information that you can use to shape your content strategy.
If you head to the Content Planner, and enter your main keyword--you know, the one from your pillar page--, the software will then give you clusters of words that often rank together.
Using this as your base, you can incorporate this tool, and supercharge your content strategy. That way, when it comes time to link internally, you’ve got plenty of options!
I really hope this information is helpful to you. If you haven't already, make sure to join Surfer's Facebook group. There are tons of people with lots big brains, with lots of knowledge and lots of answers. Happy Surfing!