Another element of organic SEO thatâ€™s just as important as your web-site content is the links on your pages. Links can be incoming, outgoing, or internal. And where those links lead or come from is as important as the context in which the links are provided.
When links first became a criteria by which crawlers ranked web sites, many black-hat SEO users rushed to create link farms. These were pages full of nothing but web links, some of which led to relevant information and some of which led to sites in no way related to the topic of the web site. It didnâ€™t take long for search engine designers and programmers to catch on to these shady practices and change the way that crawlers use links to rank sites.
Today, links must usually be related to the content of the page, and they must link to something relevant to that content. In other words, if your links donâ€™t go to or lead in from pages that match the keywords that youâ€™re using, they will be of little value to you.
The balance of links that are included on your page is also relevant. Too many links and your site could be labeled as a link farm. Too few and youâ€™ll lose out to sites that have more and better-targeted links.
Your best option when including links on your web site is to link to the pages you know for sure are relevant to your site content. Donâ€™t include a link unless youâ€™re sure it will have value to your users, and then take the time to pursue links into your site from them as well.
One other type of link, the internal link, is also important. This is a navigational link that leads users from one page to another on your site. The navigation of your site (which is what these links are, essentially) should be intuitive, and natural in progression. And you should also include a site map.
Your site map not only makes it easier for crawlers to index every page of your site, but it also makes it easier for users to find their way around in it. Ideally, users will never have to rely on the site map; however, itâ€™s nice for it to be there in the event that they either need it or simply want to click directly to the page theyâ€™re seeking.
How you design your site map is a matter of preference. Some organizations create site maps that only include the top two levels of pages. Others include ones that go three levels down or deeper. Whatever level of depth you think will be required by the majority of users is how deep your site map should go. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that site maps can become just as overwhelming as any other navigational structure if there are hundreds of pages in your site.
Design your site map so itâ€™s easy to decipher and will take users to the pages they are seeking without difficulty and confusion.