Boost Your Education Website’s SEO by Levelling Up Your Internal Linking Game
SEO isn’t just about content and keywords. How the pages reference–or link to– one another plays a big factor and internal links are an element that often gets overlooked. If you were to look beyond your website copy and design, would your internal links follow a set structure or would they look like a giant tangle?
A visualisation of Training.com.au’s link structure
Avoid this Common Mistake
From an SEO perspective, overdoing internal linking results in watering down the value of each link.
Many websites fall into the trap of linking too many pages to one another, in an effort to share SEO juice between pages or to be user-friendly.
From a usability angle, too many internal links only serve to overwhelm visitors. Choice overload is real, and it’s deadly! If it’s not easy for them to quickly find the details of the course they’re interested in enrolling in, they’re probably going to exit your website and abandon their mission.
Imagine a page with 50 internal links. Each link only has the capacity to pass on 1/50th of the page’s link authority. And once you hit a certain point, Google will actually stop following links on a page if there are too many – talk about backfire!
Not sure which links are working hardest for you and which links prospective students are ignoring? A tool like Hotjar can show you what links people are NOT clicking on. If the majority of users scroll right past a link, what’s the point in having it there? Every link should earn its place on the page.
The most used links off the Homepage on Training.com.au
Smarter Internal Linking For SEO
Step one in organising a new website is to select your content topics. After that you can sort these into categories. Here is an example of a classic SEO website architecture:
You can see that the higher the page level – closer to the home page – the broader the topic. Pages become more specific as you get deeper into the site navigation.
It’s all about maintaining relevance.
An SEO Boost for New Content
To encourage search engines to index new content on your website more quickly, ensure you’re linking to it from valuable pages like the home page or top-level category pages.
Blog posts, for instance, usually appear on the home page, as well as on category and tag pages. They might also appear in the sidebar as a recent post or a recently commented-on post. However, as fresh posts are published, they will supercede older content – pushing it further down and eventually off these pages altogether.
As those older posts eventually come to stand well on their own, you might remove those high-value cross-links and apply them instead to newer material that hasn’t yet earned any links of its own.
The Role of ‘Hub’ Pages
Your website’s homepage and category pages are Hubpages and are linked to (usually) by every other page. But there are times when it might also make sense to create further content hubs – a page that acts as a jumping off point by bringing together links focused around a particular user need or interest.
In order to decide whether a hub page is warranted, think carefully about the subject matter and how much demand there is for it. Bear in mind that each time you link outside of your architecture you’re taking some authority away from other pages, and breaking the top-down flow of authority flow. If you feel that this new page deserves links from every other page on your website, then it might be a good addition at the category level instead.
If you decide to forge ahead with a new hub, start by linking to it from the body content of pages on similar or related topics. Those internal links should use anchor text relating to the hub page’s most important keyword. Further links from other pages can be gradually introduced where there is a natural opportunity to do so.
Cross-Linking for SEO
Once your website’s internal linking structure is in place it’s time to begin cross-linking. Cross-links can increase the SEO value of a page by sharing the page authority from outside of its position in the internal hierarchy of your website. This should only be done when it’s relevant to cross-link.
Passing Page Authority Down the Chain
Quality websites have pages with a solid number of external backlinks, which boost its overall authority and support all its pages to rank higher. If your website boasts key pages that have earned lots of third-party links organically, why not pass some of that authority onto other pages that don’t enjoy any external links yet? Linking internally in this fashion is a great way to capitalise on those hero pages.
But remember, only target a small number of priority pages. Going overboard might cannibalise your internal link equity and have the opposite effect from what you intended.
Get these techniques right and you’ll enjoy the benefits of a well-optimised website that helps to drive business and attract new students.