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Add Links to an Existing Web Site to Improve Its Search Engine Ranking

If you have to optimize an existing Web site to improve its search engine ranking, you can use links to organize the site instead of physically moving the directories and files around. It’s important to use effective anchor text, as well as backlinks, external links, and internal links.

You can make the theme of your Web pages clear to the search engines even if you do not follow your directory structure so long as you connect your pages on the same theme through internal linking. This is called virtual siloing.

The difference between physical siloing and virtual siloing is that in physical siloing, it’s about how you set up your directory structure and links. Virtual siloing is about setting up your links regardless of your directory structure. It’s achieved through the anchor text, the text that is hyperlinked that describes the actual link; the backlinks, the links going to your site from external sites; the external links, the links going out of your site; and internal links, which are the links within your site.

Add anchor text to your links

The anchor text for a link tells the search engine what the page that’s being linked to is about. For example, clicking a link that says “tires” should take you to a page about tires. It sometimes helps to think of anchor text as your ability to vote for what keyword phrase the target page should rank for.

Add backlinks from external Web sites

Inbound linking (also called backlinks) is perhaps the most well known and often discussed of the link structure elements in search engine optimization. These backlinks are the links that point into your site from an outside Web site.

You might be saying to yourself, “Hold up, I can’t control what people say about me.” That is true, to an extent. However, having a page on your Web site instructing visitors how you prefer to be linked to or even offering an appropriate code snippet helps both you and the people you want to link to you. Supporters and people interested in spreading the word about you are likely to mention your site on their personal or even company Web site. Your Web site can suggest to these people what the most appropriate way to link back to your site might be.

Many videos or links provide several different ways of linking back to themselves, or embedding themselves on a Web site. You can similarly offer links back to items on your site: All you have to do is provide the appropriate code.

Add external links to other Web sites

Links from your Web site to other Web sites are called external links. Often, the drive to build backlinks dominates site owners’ link structure projects, whereas external linking remains ignored and misunderstood. Some companies are mistakenly concerned that they could lose traffic and customer sales if they link their site to other relevant sites’ information, products, or services. After all, why should you link to your competition? Well, failing to link out harms your search engine rankings.

The effort devoted to attracting backlinks is only effective when balanced with appropriate external linking to relevant expert sites. External links count towards your search engine rank because it’s natural that an expert site would be connected with other related sites in its industry (or subject “community,” as the search engines call it). Being a competent reference source is important for search engine optimization (SEO).

Organize your Web site with internal linking

The last part of virtual siloing is building subject relevance using the navigation and on-page elements of your Web site. This means arranging the main subjects in the most straightforward way possible in order to build subject relevance and organizing your navigation menus to categorize the content of your site. The below figure shows a pyramid structure, where the broader terms are supported by the lesser terms, and the lesser terms are supported by the even lesser terms, and so forth.

A typical silo: Note how the categories are arranged.
A typical silo: Note how the categories are arranged.

Every silo needs to be assigned a main landing page focused on that silo’s primary subject theme. The landing page should have at least five pages of support for it, and so on. Linking should stay within the silos or point to other important landing pages. The above example shows a graph of a silo with one big broad page and five smaller subcategory pages, each with their own attached supporting pages.

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