Sunday, October 4, 2009

A survey of thought on internal linking

I just ran across this statement in FriendFeed:

Swear to god, I am getting so ticked off with TC. They keep interlinking or whatever you call it and I just can't get to the damn thing they are talking about.

Holden then linked to a TechCrunch post that begin with several bits of linked text. The first, "Facebook Desktop Notification," went to a TechCrunch post. So did the second, "Facebook Prototypes," and the third, "Gmail Labs." The fourth one, however, did not go to a TechCrunch post - instead, it went to the TechCrunch 50 website. Not until the fifth link (the word "here") were you sent to a non-TechCrunch related page.

Now I like to think that I'm a better-behaved citizen, and that when I'm linking to internal material (as I often do, since I have nearly six years' worth of posts that I can draw upon), I at least let the reader know that I'm linking to my own stuff. For example, I wrote a post on Friday that began with the words

If you read this Empoprise-BI business blog, you may have seen my Tuesday afternoon post entitled...

which were then followed by the title of the post in question and a link to it.

And, needless to say, I also link to external sources. For example, a September 30 post began

Peter Kim recently wrote on the plague of plagiarism.

Now the fact that the beginning of the September 30 post was completely ripped off from someone else - a fact that I acknoweldged in the fifth paragraph, when I linked to Adam Singer's Steal This Blog Post, in no way dampens the fact that I was linking to external sources.

However, I don't always highlight the fact that I'm linking to something that I previously wrote. My recent parody post included a link attached to the phrase "...were all doing this," and I didn't acknoweledge that I was linking to my own material. However, I will say in my defense that the linked material was certainly germane to the discussion of airline pricing.

But enough about me - what do others say about the practice of internal linking? In a discussion about internal linking, a webmaster asked the following:

I'm wondering if I make all references to "blue widgets", sitewide, be links back to the "blue widgets" product group page, the one I want Google to show, would that be ok? Would Google look at it as spam? We have about 800 pages indexed by Google, I would imagine 50 relate to "blue widgets", each having probably have 5-10 "blue widgets" references in their body that we could make links.

Here's one of the responses:

Sounds like too much to me. Yes, your internal link structure and anchor text will tell Google which pages you consider to be important for a given topic, but take it easy and make it natural. linking every occurence of the phrase will most likely cause troubles.

But discussions of linking inevitably lead to a discussion of "nofollow". Let's set the stage:

For those of you who don't know what rel="nofollow" is. Its a tag attribute that stops Google from passing Link Juice to a target page. This is most commonly used on the comment sections of blogs to stop spammers from leaching some Trust/Page Rank from adding links to their own websites from related blog posts. It's also the reason why Wikipedia is #1 for almost everything.

So what does Mark Rushworth suggest? Several things, beginning with this:

The first thing you are probably going to do is add rel="nofollow" to any links to your Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions or other pages who’s content really doesn’t contribute to your site SEO relevancy to your target terms.

Rushworth's other "nofollow" suggestions are here, as is his proposed goal:

The end result you’re looking for is a site where only keyword anchor text is followed. Oh and one final thing to remember, try and keep the anchor text the same on all links into a page and don’t repeat the anchor to 2 different pages on the same linked page (hope that makes sense).

I'm still digesting these tips, but I'd like to hear what you have to say.

Postscript - Holden's original discussion continues. See it here.

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