Link Structure

The link structure of a website plays a role with regard to external incoming links (backlinks) and internal linking. Both cases are weighted differently by search engines. While the external link structure is a ranking factor in addition to trust, the internal link structure is useful for user navigation and at the same time important for passing on link juice.

External link structure / backlink structure

The external link structure consists of external incoming links, called backlinks. These links have evolved from the structure of the World Wide Web and are originally a kind of “recommendation” from one webpage to visit another. To date, search engines rate incoming external links as signals for trust and relevance of a website. At the same time backlinks can also supply traffic. This gives search engines in turn important data on the relevance of a particular search term or topic area in relation to the target page.

Search engine providers such as Google recommend gaining backlinks through interesting content. They assume that high-quality content will also be voluntarily linked by other users.

Optimizing of the external link structure / link building

Link building has become an elaborate undertaking for search engine optimizers, especially since the Penguin and Panda updates because today, not just the quantity of incoming external links plays a role in the evaluation of a web page, but rather the quality of incoming links.

When link building, you should especially make sure that backlinks are established as naturally as possible. Massive link buying and an associated rapid and uncontrolled growth of links are detrimental to the long-term strengthening of a webpage.

Content marketing strategies can be applied for backlink building. Thus, great content can be distributed on your blog systems, attractive content can be sent in the form of press releases to press distributors or social media channels can be used for the activation of users.

In contrast to previous SEO approaches, the optimization of the content and all the technical aspects of a website, such as loading time or the internal linking structure should have a higher priority than the actual building of relevant backlinks.

Internal linking structure

The internal link structure has a dual function. For one, it helps visitors to quickly navigate to the desired content. Secondly, they are indications for the search engine bots about the role of a page in the overall structure of the website. The optimization of the internal link structure is thus part of usability and search engine optimization.

Optimizing of the internal link structure

If you optimize your internal link structure for search engines, you will create a sort of “sitemap” in the sense of an overview of all the subpages of a website. The following factors important for improving the internal linking:

  • Anchor text: The linked text provides information on the content of the target page to the search engine. Similarly, human users will know better what to expect when clicking internal links.
  • Links from the home page to the subpage: Since the homepage of a domain usually has the most link power, internal links from the homepage are very strong and can greatly affect the relevance of a subpage.
  • Position of internal links: The higher the link is placed in the source code, the more relevant it will be for the search engine bots.
  • Number of internal links: The more links are used on a website, the lower will be the link juice that a single link can pass on.

When optimizing the internal link structure, it is therefore advisable to limit the number of internal links on each page. A commonly used number is a maximum of 100 internal links, which the Googlebot can actually follow.

Generally, the website should be planned with as much of a flat hierarchy as possible. That way it is easier for users and search engines to find the content they want as quickly as possible. To increase the relevance of traffic- or revenue-generating keywords or keyword combinations, the landing pages in question should be located as far as possible towards the top of the page hierarchy.

Internal linking of the content should not interfere with the flow of reading. Usually one or two relevant internal links which direct through anchor text to matching other content on the website suffice.

Keyword mapping is a great tool to plan the hierarchy of a website better. Generally, each URL of a website is associated with a main keyword. In the case of less competitive terms or long-tail keywords, several keywords may be utilized for a page. Additionally, if you want to strengthen some specific areas of your website, you can provide them with direct internal links from the homepage.

In optimizing the internal link structure, it is also important not to use anchor text for several landing pages. That way you avoid having two subpages of a website compete within the SERPs because the search engine cannot decide which of the two URLs is more relevant. In contrast to external linking, it is advantageous to “hard-link” the main keyword as anchor text.