Search engines use various methods for creating titles and descriptions (or snippits), and determining if your page is relevant to each search. They crawl for content contained within a web page’s meta tags including the “title” and “description” tags, but also page content that seems most relevant or useful. This means that various page elements are evaluated, including links from other pages on your website, known as internal links.
Internal links, in fact, can play a large role in how your pages are perceived by search engines.
A Google search for Kobayashi Online yields result pages with different, descriptive titles.
The meta title has long been known to be a heavy weight when it comes to search engine snippits and page relevancy, but if Google sees fit to add words discovered through internal site links to the title, then it’s very possible that these links are evaluated at a similar level of importance. This is especially true if there’s a common element (or root term) among all internal links pointing to one particular page.
Suppose a website has the following navigation links: Home | About | Contact Us. And these three pages all have the exact same meta title, “Welcome to our Site!” The page results, shown in a Google search, could show: “Home – Welcome to our Site!”, “About – Welcome to our Site!” and “Contact Us – Welcome to our Site!”
In the realm of SEO, this kind of duplication, of course, should be avoided.
Having unique meta title tags for all site pages is one way to help reduce the chance of this happening. But the example above also illustrates a very interesting connection between internal links and the pages they point to. In our opinion, this shows that internal linkage is evaluated differently, and that there’s an important association between the text of a link and how it’s relevant to the page it points to, even internally.
It’s also important to link pages in a relevant way. Main navigation is usually fine, but links like “read more”, and “click here” are hardly descriptive. When creating a link, take advantage of the opportunity to describe the destination page without being too verbose. The focus should be on the root concepts (keywords) of the destination page. For this article, for instance, it would be wise to use keywords like “SEO” and “internal links” when linking to it from other pages.
Finally, if you’re using images for your links, use the “alt” property of the “img” tag and you’re set. But, again, be sure to make it concise and relevant.
The importance of having relevant internal (and external links) has helped many websites over the years. And in a game where every single point makes a difference, updating your internal links to be as relevant as possible might just give you the edge you need.
Are your internal links effective? Take a look at your site and see if you pass these simple steps:
- Navigation images have ALT text.If your site’s navigation links are images, they may say words like “About” or “Contact Us”, but search engines can easily overlook them. In order to make your image-based navigation comprehensible to search engines, the ALT text property for these images should be used.Example:
<img src=”http://www.yoursite.com/getquote.gif” alt=”Get a free quote”>
- Links have titles when appropriate. The text of a link, Search Engine Journal explains, is supposed to provide information on where the link will send the user. The title attribute of an link, however, is meant to “expand on the meaning of the link” through additional or advisory information.Example:
<a href=”url” title=”Blog posts on website marketing”>Read more blog posts about website marketing</a>
There is little evidence to suggest that link titles affect the way search engines perceive your site, but they have the potential to make it easier for site visitors to decide if that particular link has the content they’re looking for.
- Internal links don’t just say “read more”; they use keywords that describe the linked page.Whenever creating a link, always think about ways to incorporate descriptive text with specific keywords. These keywords help search engines determine what the linked page is about, and this helps the page’s chance of being stumbled upon during a search.
- Bonus: Do you have unique page titles?We talked earlier in this post about how page titles should be unique to each page on your site.Checking title tags is simple in most browsers. An easy way to check is to go to the page in question and check the title bar in the browser. If you use a tab-based browser like Internet Explorer 9, the title of each page is displayed on the corresponding tab, which can sometimes make it hard to see.In IE9, an easy way to check a page title is to click on the “add to favorites” tab. To do this, access the “Favorites” menu by clicking the star icon at the top right, and select the “Add to Favorites” option. The default test appearing in the “Name” field is the title of the page. Make note of the name, and then click “Cancel” or else you’ll add the page to your favorites.We’ll write about other ways to view and manage page titles such as using Google Webmaster Tools for meta tags in an upcoming Online Friendly post.
Do you need help with your website’s SEO? The SEO experts at Kobayashi Online are here to help!