Posts

internal linking for SEO

Follow These Rules to Get the Most SEO Benefit from Internal Links

Internal linking is the SEO practice of linking from one page on a domain to another page on that same domain. Internal links add connections between the content and various pages on your website. Creating these hyperlinks builds up organic search rankings and builds trust for your website. For instance, if you were writing a blog about your product, you could link to more information on that topic elsewhere on your site, for example, the product page itself. In its simplest form, internal linking could be a link to your contact page, a link to a previous blog post, a product page or anything else that’s relevant to that page’s content.

Benefits of Internal Linking

  • Builds credibility for your site and your site’s SEO by creating a hierarchy of information
  • Makes it easier for visitors to find the exact information they’re looking for
  • Makes it easier for search engine crawlers to navigate the site
  • Creates and spreads link equity (links passing value and authority from one to the next)
  • Creates an internal mapping structure by connecting to all pages, rather than just the Home or Contact

Breakdown of a Hyperlink

anchor text example hyperlink

The image above shows what a hyperlink looks like when looking at the source code of your site.  On the front end of the website, the user would only see the anchor text, which is the actual text that gets linked to the other page. In this case, the anchor text is “create content that matters”.  The blue portion is the URL the user would get directed to once they click on the link.

What Does Internal Linking Look Like?

In most blog posts, you’ll see an outro paragraph with an internal link to contact the company in question. It probably looks something like the outro below from our last post about Online Review Management… See what we did there?

Located in beautiful Victoria, BC, we help clients all over the world with powerful online marketing plans, web design and brandingContact our team and ask about our review management system and how to get more 5 star reviews.

You’ll notice the very first link leads to the info page about our digital marketing. The anchor texts (online marketing plans, web design and branding) fit easily into the sentence.

Each keyword in the anchor text leads to the corresponding page and this creates a network of links that eventually connects the entire website.

Next in the body of text is “Contact our team”. This is a straightforward bit of anchor text meant to lead site visitors directly to our contact page for the next step.

How to Get the Most from Internal Linksinternal linking for SEO

Create Lots of Content

The main goal for an effective SEO strategy is always to create plenty of good quality content including on product pages, category pages, blog posts, updates etc.  Whatever content you add to your site, make sure it provides a ton of value. The more content you have, the more content you have to link to and before you know it, your site will have layers of excellent content that will take your site and your brand to the next SEO level.

Use Anchor Text

As mentioned above, anchor text is more than just saying “click here to get to x,y,z”.

Just saying “click here” can get repetitive for readers and they might actively choose not to click the link.  Instead, you can mix it up a bit and just use “here” as the anchor text.

Ie: For more information about our team, click here.

Or change it up a bit with: For more information check out this post.

Other ways to use anchor text

Branding

Using your brand name as anchor text creates a more natural link profile throughout the site

Plain URLS

Plain or naked URLS (i.e. www.ideazone.ca) can be just as effective as a cleverly written anchor text because they’re honest. Branding comes into play here.

Titles

Using the title of the linked material as anchor text is an effective way to create a trustworthy link network.

In the end, anchor text should naturally follow the tone of the sentence and build onto the rest of the content.

Try these steps for creating anchor text

  • Write your sentence
  • Choose where you want the internal link to point to
  • Choose which part of the sentence makes the most sense for the anchor text
  • Link it and keep going to the next block of text

Make Sure you Deep Link

Deep linking is when you link to a “deeper” page on your site – a page other than the standard homepage and contact page (which is called “shallow linking”). The more internal pages you link to, the more robust your site’s link hierarchy becomes. This will make it easier for visitors to find the information they need and even the information they didn’t know they needed.

Let’s say you design and sell cell phone cases, and you’ve recently branched into cases for tablets. Your site visitor came looking for phone cases but while skimming your post, they saw anchor text with an internal link to the page showcasing your new line of tablet cases. They would be able to click the link and move directly to that page and potentially buy a new phone case and a new tablet case.

Use Natural and Relevant Links

Don’t link just because you need to, link because you want to direct your site visitors right to the information they’re after.

Keep your internal linking natural and your posts and pages will read naturally. If there doesn’t seem to be a natural page to link to, that’s okay. Pretend you’re building up a post about phone cases. You want to mention that you’re going to be introducing ultra-durable wallets made of the same materials, but the page on wallets doesn’t exist yet. In that case, you’re not really going to be able to create an internal link, and you don’t want to link to something else that you’re not even discussing. That could lead your customer down a rabbit hole they don’t want to be in and they might ultimately leave your site.

Don’t Overuse Internal Links

Building on the last point about using natural and relevant links:

Anchor text and links that completely take over a body of text become overwhelming, confusing and spammy. Added in the right spots and in the right circumstances, your internal links will help your customers to skim and scan your content with ease. You never want your site visitors or the search engine crawlers to view your content as spammy. It will devalue your site, hurt your SEO rankings, reduce click through rates (CTR) and decrease your website’s authority. Instead, use internal linking only when it makes sense and when it fits naturally.

Internal linking is one of those easy SEO wins….that not many people implement. Start taking advantage of the SEO benefit you get from internal linking by going back and adding them, where they make sense, to your existing pages.  With a little bit of practice, it will become second nature as you build up the content of your site. At IdeaZone, we know that your website is the face your company presents to the world, which is why it’s so important that it’s done right. We have decades of experience in branding and print design, web design and digital marketing. Contact us today to get started on a custom marketing solution.

on page seo for increased rankings

On Page Optimization Best Practices

Part of the powerful trifecta of SEO skills (technical, on page and off page,) on page SEO can easily be the one factor that gets your pages ranked in the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages). On page SEO is essentially the optimization of your web pages’ content – for both bots (spiders) and humans – in an effort to increase rankings. It’s called on-page because the majority of the optimization changes you make can be seen right on the page.

With on-page SEO, your goal is to create content around a set of related keywords and then apply the optimization tactics below so that the page has the best chance possible of ranking for said keywords. In comparison, technical and off-page SEO work behind the scenes and generally isn’t visible to readers.

With over 20 years of experience creating strategic SEO and digital marketing solutions, we have a few pieces of advice we’d like to share to help you on your way to creating or redesigning your site’s content.

Awesome Content Comes Firstwriting SEO optimized content

Create Valuable, Relevant Content

As with any SEO practice, it’s important to create content that matters. With on page SEO, you need to create content that answers specific questions. To know what questions your customers are asking, conduct keyword research using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Google’s People Also Ask section of the search results as well as a free tool called Answer the Public. Using these tools, you can suss out what keywords have the most search volume, how your competitors are ranking for these keywords as well as getting some insight as to how competitive the keywords might be to rank for. You can also uncover other keywords and phrases that you can incorporate into your content to help boost your site’s visibility.

Use the Right Keywords in the Right Places

Use your main keyword in the first 100 or so words of your page. It’s a classic SEO tactic for a reason. It works because Google’s crawlers still put value on keywords that are closer to the beginning of the content.

Well-written content will allow keywords to fall in naturally throughout the text. In contrast, cramming in as many keywords as you can will have search engines and visitors eyeing your site suspiciously. If your text is littered with keywords, they probably won’t click through from the search engines or read what’s on your site if they do.  Adding many keywords in an attempt to game the system and get ranked without doing the necessary work, is called “keyword stuffing”.

An example of keyword stuffing:

Here at Brewster’s Coffee Co, we have the best coffee available. If you like really good coffee, you’ll love our delicious coffee. Stop by and try our newest blends of premium coffee and pick up a one-pound bag of savoury coffee to take home and enjoy.

This kind of text reads suspiciously, irritates visitors and will get you penalized by the search engines. It’s obvious that you sell coffee, so it’s not necessary to repeat that one keyword so often. Instead, its best to play around with terms related to coffee like java, espresso, mug, mocha etc and other words that your customers associate with their cup of coffee.

Keep Content Updated

Once created, content needs to be kept fresh and relatable. Evergreen content is content that’s typically timeless, but even that might need a tweak now and then. On the flip side, a post from 2016 about top shoe trends will need a total overhaul, since so much will have changed in the footwear world in that time. Set aside a few hours every week to go through and refresh wherever it’s needed.

Organize Every Layer of Your Site

Site Structure

What you name your pages and how they’re organized is an important element of on-page SEO. Like a roadmap shows how to get to your destination, the mapping of your site should lay out where everything is located. Called site structure, this will not only make it easier for readers to find and access pages but it will also make your site more crawlable for the bots.

Add Keyword Optimized Page Titles & Descriptionsoptimize page title and description

Page titles and meta descriptions are the text that appears for each page listed in the search engine results. Not only are they a factor in whether your page will catch the eye of potential visitors and customers, but they also play a role in the optimization process. Meta descriptions should be between 160 and 220 (max) characters. Most smartphones and tablets cut meta descriptions to 120 characters. This makes 120 a good number to aim for, since a large majority of customers now browse online using mobile devices.

In the meta description, include your keyword phrase or single keyword in a complete sentence. Try to use text only, since alphanumeric characters ($, %, &, +) don’t always translate well.

Page titles should be a maximum of 60 characters and should also contain your page’s main keyword.

Add Keyword Optimized Headings

Headings act as signage, directing reader’s eyes down the page and making your content easy to navigate. The difference between headings and page titles is that page titles can’t be seen on the page (they are only seen in the search results) while headings can.

On each page, the headings should include target keywords. Your page’s main heading should be an H1 heading while the lesser headings should be H2, H3, H4 etc. Try to use these headings in order and not, for example, use an H1 heading three quarters the way down the page.

Your page’s main heading (H1) should closely resemble your page’s title. This helps with continuity when someone clicks your page in the search results. Headings are ranked in order of descending importance. H1 is the most important, then H2 and H3. Unless your content is very lengthy and detailed, you likely won’t need to go any further than H3 or H4.

Use Formatting

Formatting will go a long way in getting visitors to read your carefully created content. Try to add bullets and numbers where applicable, break up the content with headings, add bold and italics to help separate and emphasize key points and allow readers to skim and scan the page. Formatting is more for your human readers but it also plays a role for the spiders (bots).

Create Effective URLs

Use https in your domain name. Since July 2018, http sites show as “not secure” on most browsers which sends red flags to site visitors. To switch to https, you just need to add an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate which will encrypt the data on your site, keeping it private. To add SSL certification, contact your hosting provider. Generally, SSL certificates cost $0 to $99 per year. If this is something that you’re not comfortable installing yourself, you can always get in touch with us and we can help you out.

Other SEO Optimization Tips for URLs

  • If local, use geographic mentions to make it clear where you’re located
  • Avoid case sensitive characters for ease of use
  • Include the page subject in the URL
  • Avoid using dates in your URLs
  • Separate words using hyphens to make it even clearer
  • Keep the URL short and descriptive

Images and Multimedia

Use Quality Images and Video

SEO best practices often focus so heavily on text that it can be easy to forget about the visuals, which encourages readers to click around and stay on your site.

Visitors will be overwhelmed by a wall of text, so you’ll need to carefully consider where and when to place images and videos for the most impact.

The first thing to think of when optimizing your images for SEO is the filename. You’ll want to have a keyword optimized image filename before you upload the image to your site. Eg. woman-with-main-keyword.jpg

How to choose an image format

  • Use a GIF if your image is animated
  • Use JPEG for basic resolution images. Test out different settings to find the compression setting that works best for your chosen image
  • To preserve a high-resolution image, or if a transparent background is needed, use PNG

Image Sizeon page seo for increased rankings

You’ll want to remember to keep your images around the 100kb size so that they’re not bogging down the speed of your site.

Use Alternate (ALT) Text for Images

Known as image alt-text, this describes the images on your site to the search engines as well as visually impaired people (who use readers that read out the alt text). Not only is image optimization part of on-page SEO, it can also be a good alternate source of traffic. Often, when someone is searching for a specific product, they’ll click on the “image results” tab in Google or another search engine to see what images the search engine has turned up. Because images are so important for getting the attention of visitors, you should audit your site to ensure all the photos and product images are accurately described in the ALT text.

Example of a bad Alt-text:

<img src= “coffeecup.gif” alt= “coffee cup, cup of coffee, mug of coffee”>

Example of a good Alt-text:

<img src= “coffeecup.gif” alt= “Steaming hot Arabica coffee in red mug”>

Adding keyword optimized ALT text is a bit of a science as you want to describe the image as best you can while also including your page’s relevant keywords.

 

Internal Linking

Internal linking is simply linking from one page on your domain to another page. It’s useful for visitors so they can get additional information and it also gives the linked page a bit of an SEO bump as it tells the search engines that the page is important (hence why you’re linking to it). Internal links are an often overlooked on-page SEO strategy. For the best example of great internal linking practices, visit Wikipedia.

Include a Call to Action

Lastly, each page should also include a call to action of some sort (contact us, find out more, view the product, sign up for a newsletter etc) to help guide your site visitors to take the action you’d like them to.  This could be a phone call, sending an email, completing their purchase, or whatever your end goal is. In the following paragraph, you can see a call to action in the 2nd sentence.

 

Creating and maintaining an effective on page SEO strategy does take considerable time and effort. If you’d like assistance with improving the visibility and ranking of your website, IdeaZone can help. Located in Victoria, BC, we help website owners the world over create the highest ranking, most effective sites possible. Whether your goal is to boost sales, double your readership or do a complete overhaul of existing pages and content, our team of trusted SEO experts will create an effective and one of a kind campaign tailored specifically for your business.

Do I Really Need to Upgrade my Website from HTTP to HTTPS?

The short answer is a resounding YES!

HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure and its purpose is to secure communication on the internet. By securing communication, we’re referring to protecting the privacy and integrity of data that is exchanged while users are visiting a website.  If the data is not secured, then hackers are able to intercept data that is being transmitted through these insecure (i.e. HTTP not HTTPS) websites.

When HTTPS first came onto the scene, it was mostly ecommerce websites that needed to worry about securing their websites. This was because these websites were processing credit cards and collecting other important personal information about their visitors. It made sense to encrypt personal data over ecommerce sites but, as the internet progressed, it made more and more sense to make sure that every website was secure.  And that’s where Google stepped in.

Google has long been making recommendations that webmasters should make the switch to HTTPS. They were even going so far as to say that it was a ranking factor back in 2014 insomuch as they would give an HTTPS enabled website precedence in the search results.  Then, in July of 2018 Google made it mandatory that all websites should have HTTPS.  And by mandatory, they meant that they were going to start calling out and downgrading non HTTPS sites.

Now, Google doesn’t own the internet and so it’s really up to the website owner if they want to change over to HTTPS or not. What Google does own, however, is the largest search engine in the world (well, 2 of the largest search engines if you include YouTube) as well as one of the most popular web browsers, Google Chrome. That kind of means that if you want to get traffic to your site, you had better listen to what Google is telling you to do.

So how does HTTP/HTTPS affect search engine results?

We’ve already stated above that Google has said that they will favour HTTPS sites over HTTP sites in the search results.  This translates into less and less HTTP sites appearing in the top search result pages.  Google’s ultimate goal is to ensure that the websites they are showing in the search results are secure (and relevant). The only reason that you’ll still see insecure sites for any given search query is because, even though the site is insecure, Google still thinks that it will match the searcher’s query better than another secure site further down its index.

How does a non-HTTPS enabled site affect the user?

Most (if not all) web browsers these days have some type of warning that is meant to inform the user that the site they are visiting is insecure.  Different browsers show these warnings in different ways.  Apple’s Safari browser is one of the browsers that shows the least in the way of warnings for insecure sites, Mozilla Firefox is somewhere in the middle while Google’s Chrome browser does its best to put it front and center.

In the Firefox browser, the warning is not super prevalent as you can only see it by way of a shield, which, if you didn’t know what it was, you would probably just ignore. Clicking on that shield, however, tells the user a little more information about the insecure site they’re visiting. In this instance, the connection is not secure (not HTTPS enabled) and the browser is blocking some content on the site. This is usually things like Google Analytics as well as some social media platforms that use some type of tracking.

Firefox shows a bit more of a pronounced error when the site has HTTPS enabled but is still not secure because some of the content (oftentimes images) is being served from insecure sources. This lock with the exclamation mark is what warns users that the site they are visiting has insecure content.

Some web browsers – such as Google’s Chrome browser – warns the user that they are about to visit an insecure site. This can come by way of a large interstitial warning page such as:

If a user comes across this page, they are not likely going to click the Advanced button and then hit the option to proceed to your website.  Would you?  Even if the page above doesn’t show up, the user will still see an exclamation mark beside “Not Secure” to the left of the URL (i.e domain name) in the browser bar.  Below are a couple more warnings that Google Chrome users might see when they are visiting an insecure site.  Just more signs telling the user not to proceed to the site…

 

So What Does All This HTTP(B)S Mean to Business Owners?

In a nutshell, it means that your business is losing customers and your brand is losing trust. From a user’s perspective, if they can’t trust your website, why would they take the leap and trust your business?

Is Your Website Insecure?

If you currently own a business that has a website online, then visit your site online to see what it looks like in different browsers. Look at your website through the eyes of one of your customers. In browsers where you don’t automatically see the starting HTTP / HTTPS of the website URL, then double click on the website URL (as if you’re going to copy/paste the link) and it should show up at that point.

Upgrading and securing your website is not as hard as you might think (if that’s what you do for a living).  Once we know what your site is built with (ie. custom coded, WordPress, Wix etc), then we can give you a pretty good idea of how best to make the change.

Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help secure your website.

Writing High Quality SEO Optimized Content for the Web

The goal in writing high quality SEO optimized content for the web is to first satisfy your readers with valuable content and then make sure your content also satisfies the search engine bots. This means that the content must flow and progress naturally down the page while including strategically placed keywords and keyword synonyms. In order to rank in the search engines, your content must be of uber high quality – hopefully better than anything you see on your competitors’ sites.

Since we know we’re looking for really high quality, valuable content, let’s take a look at what high quality content consists of:

  1. Know Who You’re Writing For – High quality content is based on an understanding of your audience, as well as keyword and user intent research. When writing, speak your audience’s language and provide the information they’re actually looking for.
  2. Write More – Long content (1,000+ words) tends to rank better in organic results, in part because it is thorough. That said, stay on task and don’t let the content lose focus.
  3. Write to the Audience – Good content is written to its audience, not your peers. Make sure the language is neither too simple nor too full of industry jargon.
  4. Make it Shareable – Read your content out loud to yourself. First notice if it flows well and then ask yourself if its good enough that you’d share the content if you came across it.
  5. Uses Font Attributes – Use short paragraphs, callouts, bold text, bullet points, numbered lists, quotes and so on to make the text easy on the eyes and easy to digest quickly.
  6. Use Strong Titles and Headings (H1s, H2s, H3s etc) – Create enticing, actionable titles that use keywords strategically and naturally.
  7. Deal with Objections – Feature ideal results and answers to common objections – try to anticipate the audience’s hopes, fears and concerns.
  8. Spy Out the Competition – Review the pages that are currently ranking well for target keywords and ask yourself if your content is better. Make sure it’s better.
  9. Spelling / Grammar Mistakes – Proofread. And then have someone else proofread.
  10. Link Out – Good content has outbound links to authoritative and reputable industry related resources (Wikipedia is always a good, neutral authority site to link out to).
  11. Get Your Facts Straight – Make sure that the content your writing is factual. Just because you found it online somewhere doesn’t make it automatically true.
  12. Keyword Stuffing – Don’t do it! There’s no real math for this. A good way to visualize is to use the “Find” feature in your document and search the keyword. If it looks oversaturated, start plugging in some synonyms.
  13. Use Keywords and Variants Naturally in Content – Don’t overthink it. Use synonyms, abbreviations, plurals and so on like a normal human being.
  14. Keyword Optimized Intro and Outro sentence – Don’t be awkward with it, but as much as possible, use your main keyword as close to the beginning of the first sentence as possible. And then the last sentence on the page as well.

Good UX (user experience) is good SEO (search engine optimization). When users are engaged, they consume more content, interact with it and share it.

There are plenty of philosophies about which characteristics make for great content. The following are all worthy considerations, and every piece of content should cover at least a few of these:

  • Simple / Clear / Coherent
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible / Valid / Experienced
  • Emotional
  • Entertaining
  • Inspiring
  • Educational
  • Relevant
  • Deep / Thorough
  • Practical
  • Novel / Unique (in value, not just in content)
  • Trustworthy

And one final point is worth mentioning once more. As you continue to design content, keep your audience in mind: you are writing for people, so search engines can also understand — not vice versa.