Module 8 - Linking your Site's Pages Together (Text)

Module Text

Linking your Site's Pages Together Explainer Video

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Check List

Let's recap!

In Module 1 we looked at SEO Scams and Cons so you can avoid the companies that could cause your website considerable harm.

Module 2 covered personalized search so you don't make the very common mistake made by many website owners and think you have good rankings when you don't!

In Module 3 we saw how Search Engines go about deciding who should be in their Search Results Pages and in what order they should rank.

Module 4 was all about deciding what you want to rank for in the SERPs so you don't waste your time trying to compete with much larger players or ranking for phrases no one searches!

Module 5 outlined how we can help search engines understand the basic structure of our website.

In Module 6 we went through how to check if the key elements of a web page are optimized.

In Module 7 we got to grips with how to audit and optimize our code to ensure it is correctly marked up for search engine bots to read and understand clearly.

Now we need to consider how we can show search engines the overall structure of our content for the website as a whole.

If your website has a lot of pages then it probably also has, or should have categories. For example:

If search engines can understand these categories and can see each one is comprehensive they reinforce the strength of each individual page.

This is common sense. A search engine would prefer to rank a web page with a 'healthy recipe' higher if it is on a web site with many healthy recipes because that website is most likely to meet the needs of the internet user.

The term silo structuring comes from agricultural silos

Sorting out your website this way is known as silo structuring. The term comes from agricultural farms where each type of grain is stored in a separate silo. On a website we can say each category is a silo.

Search engines cannot rely on your menu to spot the categories - after all pages like 'Home' and 'Contact' aren't categories. Instead they look for link patterns. They ask:

Which sets of pages link together the most often? These are probably related in some way but in what way (what theme/topic)?

To Search Engine Optimize we need to make sure these signals are in place.

Lets consider the structure of our sample website 'How to be a Carpenter'

Website structure

Its clear we have two main category areas - Carpentry Tools and Types of Wood.

But search engines can't see our pretty diagram. They crawl pages one by one. So how can we explain it to them?

Step One: Add Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are those small links you see near the top of many web pages that tell you where you are. Here's an example:

Breadcrumbs on a web page

If your site doesn't have these you may need the help of a programmer to generate them. For platforms such as WordPress you will often find plugins. Just Google the question.

But we need to make sure the search engines understand that these are our breadcrumbs so the code has to be marked up correctly.

To test yours:

  1. Open the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.
  2. Insert the url of the page you want to test and click Run test.
  3. In the right hand window Google will tell you if it found breadcrumbs and if there are any errors with them.

To see a working example use the url The Structured Data Testing Tool will find 2 breadcrumbs.

You might see other results there as well. Structured data is a wide field which we will look at in more advanced courses. For now we're just verifying breadcrumbs.

Step Two: Add Submenus

Submenus which show on certain pages of the site are a great way to increase the number of links within a silo.

Follow the cards below to see how we could implement this on Woodlife.

1. Start

1. Start

Here's our page on the sample website about Types of Wood with the breadcrumbs already in place.

Close this card and click on the next one to see a possible submenu location.

2. Submenus in the menu

2. Submenus in the menu

We could add links to the sub pages in the left hand menu when we are in that section of the website

Close this card and click on the next one to see an alternative submenu location

3. Submenus above the content

3. Submenus above the content

Or we could add them above the content.

Close this card and click on the next one to see an even stronger method.

4. Two submenus

4. Two submenus

Or we could do both! Just ask yourself:

Is this helpful to my human visitors as well?.

You don't want to make your page difficult to navigate and read just to please search engines so consider your design carefully!

cardclone front
cardclone back

With your breadcrumbs and submenus in place you have radically increased the number of links between each page in each silo.

In the image below these links are represented in blue while other links that you may have between the silos are shown in gray. You get the picture!

Silo structured website
Links should use text, not images

Internal links

Menus, submenus and breadcrumbs are all internal links, they are links that go to somewhere else on the same website.

Search engines find it helpful if these links are text, not images, and that this text is a good description of the page it is linking to. The text of the link is known as anchor text.

In our 'How to be a Carpenter' website you can see this in action with all internal links.

If you're concerned that text links look boring you need the help of a programmer well versed in 'css styling'. They will be able to make any link look just as good as an image!

The blog mistake

If your website has content and a blog (say an online store with a blog) then read on.

The great mistake many webmasters make here is to put information that should be in a particular silo in their blog. This weakens the silos in the eyes of search engines and can weaken your rankings.

Follow the slide below to see this mistake in action and how it can be resolved.

  • <p>In this example we've got a website with 9 pages of content. 3 about food, 3 about cars and 3 about cats.</p>
  • <p>Using breadcrumbs and submenus we've helped search engines understand the three silos (categories) - food, cars and cats.</p>
  • <p>Over time a blog has been built up but it also contains content about food, cars and cats which is weakening the silo structure.</p>
  • <p>We should move these bits of content to the proper categories. We don't delete them completely from the blog but use the blog to <b>announce</b> the new content and where it can be found.</p>
  • <p>Quite a few blog posts about dogs have also been added. That's a sign to create a new category (silo) for dogs. Again we won't delete the posts completely from the blog but we'll use that area to <b>announce</b> the content and link to where it can be found.</p>
  • <p>Our silos are now strong and clear while our blog does what it should - <b>announce</b> new content and provide other ways to build a relationship with our target audience.</p>

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