Yesterday’s post talked about how external links matter in your SEO efforts, and how they can be set up through a variety of online media. Internal links are also very useful to you when you’re trying to get your pages ranked for various key phrases.

An internal link is one in which you have a link on one Web page of your site, and you point that link to another page internally on your own Web site. There are many reasons why you want to link internally:

  • It helps the search engines crawl your site by following links
  • It helps your readers and customers who may want to read related material
  • It associates related pages together
  • You can associate key words with specific pages
  • A high Page Rank page can be linked to a lower Page Rank page to help it along (more on that tomorrow!)

Absolute Links versus Relative Links

Most of us who build Web sites want to do it quickly with a minimum of effort. A shortcut that many tools like Adobe’s Dreamweaver and others do is to build links that are relative to each other. In other words, HTML allows us to give a link without fully qualifying the domain name – just give a directory and a page name, or even just a page name if it’s in the same place on the server as the current page.

As an example, our link code might look something like:

<p><a href="../aboutus.html" target="_self">Read more</a> about us.</p>

What that’s saying is that the link “Read more” points to a directory above where we are now (the “../” means go up one level). So it’s “relative” to where the current page is.

The advantage to this is that it’s easy to have a test site up, and when the testing is done, just move it over to production without having to recode anything. However, there are two problems with that link:

  1. The link text says “Read more” which is completely useless to us in an SEO perspective
  2. The link doesn’t associate itself with the domain name

Absolute links on the other hand, include the fully-qualified domain name. By using our full domain name in the link text with the keyword phrase, Google and the other search engines will associate that key phrase with that specific page on your Web site. This is a critical difference than using relative linking. Google will also look at the surrounding text in the paragraph to see what it’s talking about, and that helps influence the score you’ll receive. An sample link might look like this:

<p>Read more about our <a href="" target="_self">pet supply store</a>.</p>

Now the keyword phrase “pet supply store” is associated with the specific page in your own domain. This is much more powerful and Google will see it as a better link in their index that means something.

Quality Links

When we spoke about quality links in yesterday’s post, your internal links can actually be counted as a quality link in Google’s eyes as well. Once it gets indexed, go to Google and type in:

You may actually start to see some of these internal links be counted as quality links in Google’s eyes. This will be useful to you in helping to get higher positions for your specific key phrases. Just make sure the link text matches or closely matches the <title>, “description”, <h1>, etc. on the target page. This will only help to reinforce the fact that that page is indeed about your specific key phrase.