Take your blog to the next level with a formal structure and an internal linking strategy
Most blogger’s content strategy consists of brainstorming a few post ideas maybe a week or two in advance. While writing the posts, they might remember back to a related post and link it in the content.
It keeps the blog updated with new posts and gives readers something to click through while reading but that kind of strategy misses out on a lot of opportunities.
It’s an amateur content strategy in a professional blogger’s world.
There’s another way you should be planning your content and structuring your blog, a way that will open up a world of higher search rankings and traffic. It will keep visitors on your site longer and use every ounce of search juice to rank your blog.
It needs to be a priority on your to-do list…the one that actually gets done, not the to-do list that always gets pushed back.
Creating a formal structure for your blog and using it for a linking strategy will take your site to the next level to a professional blogger.
What is an Internal Linking Strategy?
While most bloggers think of internal links as simply a way to show readers around the site, they serve a much bigger purpose.
Google uses your internal links to find its way around the site. It uses a spider program to crawl around your site through links, looking at each page as it does. By putting all this information together, Google is able to understand what posts are most important and how everything is structured.
It uses this to rank your site for those important categories, especially for the most important posts within the categories.
Google is going to do all this whether you have a formal linking structure or not. The world’s largest search engine is smart…but not perfect. Do you want it guessing at your most important posts?
If you looked at most blogs through their internal links, they’d look like a tangled bush with no real structure. A formal internal linking strategy sets up your links to clearly show which posts are most important.
A blog structure is set up like a pyramid with the homepage on top, followed by your categories and most important pages. These then link to topics and related ideas within each category.
Each level links down into the posts or pages in the level below it and up into the posts or pages above it. This helps Google understand exactly which posts and pages relate to each other and it helps readers easily find their way to related content.
How Does a Formal Linking Strategy Help Your Blog?
Internal links are much more than just a way to get readers to click around your blog. They’re a critical piece of your SEO process.
- Having related content linked within your posts keeps visitors on your site longer, clicking around to other posts. That’s an important signal to Google that searchers are finding the info for which they are looking.
- More internal links help Google find its way around your blog faster. Google gives every site a ‘crawl budget’ which is the number of pages it will crawl each day. Even the world’s largest search engine can’t be everywhere all the time. Helping it find your articles through links optimizes this crawl budget to index and rank your posts.
- It helps Google understand your site and tells it which pages are really important and should rank.
- Internal links also help to pass around search authority, helping to rank new pages and the ones that are most important.
How to Create the Perfect Blog Linking Strategy
Planning out your blog structure takes time but is simple to do. You can use mind map software to visualize the structure or just draw it out on a piece of paper.
If you’re using the pyramid format, you homepage will be on top. You’ll then have five to ten lines down from the homepage to major categories. From each of these categories, you’ll have three to five lines down to topics within each. From these topics, you’ll have lines down to questions and ideas within each. You then assign a page or post to each of these lines.
If you’re using a mind map, the layout is the same but you’ll have lines flowing out in all directions.
You also need to assign a keyword to each post and page.
This is your formal linking structure. The homepage will link out to category posts and your most important pages. That next level of category pages or posts will link down to posts in the next level. The idea here is that the higher-level post is focused on a more general keyword or topic but then directs readers to the next level of posts that provide information about more specific keywords and ideas within the topic.
Lower-level posts should reference and link back up to the more important posts and pages that cover the broader topic.
An important measure of your linking strategy is that no post should be more than three or four links from the homepage. Since your homepage and most important category pages carry the most search authority, you don’t want any post to be too far from these if you want to spread around your search power.
A content audit will help you see how far your posts are from the homepage in a measure called ‘crawl depth’. Knowing your crawl depth for each post is critical in making sure it gets enough link juice to rank.
You can still link your posts to other relevant posts that aren’t in the same path. These additional links help readers find their way around and it won’t confuse Google if the rest of your internal structure is laid out.
Some of this may sound technical and overly complicated but it’s an important part of creating a professional website. Done right, you’ll notice and immediate increase in search traffic and pages per session. People will be spending more time on your blog and you’ll be passing around your search power more deliberately. Don’t pass up the chance to take your blog to the next level!