Links-Part 3. Strategic Placement

Last Update: May 11, 2016

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Summary: This is Part 3 of a series of articles I'm writing on Linking Strategy for your site. In this article, we launch full bore into strategic link types for each section of your page.

Type and placement not only in the masthead and body copy, but also navigation, sidebars, footer, cart, and product pages is fully covered. Strategic file naming, category naming, and image naming are also discussed.
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In Part I, the introduction: internal linking strategy, I briefly reviewed hyperlinks for beginners, and laid out "Rules of Thumb for internal links" (gleaned from SEO masters). In Part 2, we look at the great role "Section Links" can play, adding context for visitors, and creating a higher likelihood that authority sites will link to your content.

In a future posts, I will explore variations on link text, and finally encourage a vivid discussion of tactical link building.


Link Type and Placement :

A Strategy for each Section of your Pages and Posts

Let's go section by section.

  1. Body copy. TEXT links in the body copy are considered the #1 best link type
    • considered natural, contextual text links are given the most weight;
    • links in the main page content count more than those in the sidebar;
    • the closer to the homepage, the link is, the better;
    • avoid repeating the same keyword in anchor text multiple times on the same page;
    • your link can be to specific sections of an internal page (see "Section Links");
    the section's link fragment can distinguish it from other links to the same page;
    • if using image links, use the "alt" attribute of the image for your
    description or keyword, since there is no anchor text;
    • alternatively, if you use no alt text, the link becomes a "noText" link (more on this interesting link variation in the next post, Part 4).
  2. Navigation. Make navigation as flat as possible (avoid subcategories)
    • use html lists styled with css; not javascript dynamic menus;
    • use text links in navigation (not images);
    • use text links in breadcrumbs (a path followed by the user);
    • use text links in menus.
  3. Masthead. Only top keyword here
  4. Home page. Consistently link the home page to the domain name
    • do not link to index.php, for example;
    • this can be a small image icon, to save space in your navigation headers;
    • if using an icon, give it an alt and title (these can be different).
  5. Sidebars. Links here do not get as much weight as those in the main content
    • perfect for ad placement
  6. Footer. Do NOT stuff the footer with keywords
    • good place for privacy, terms of agreement, sitemap, and contact links
  7. Product pages. Eliminate all extraneous links here—keep the visitor focused
    • link to products themselves, and
    • possibly reviews, only.
  8. Cart. Make all cart links nofollow.
  9. Category names. Use keywords for categories
  10. File names. Keywords for page filenames, except for "home" page
  11. "more...", "next", and "previous" links.
• make title attribute same as (or a related!) keyword of target page; e.g.:
<a href="//example.com/example-page.html" title="the target keyword of that next page">next</a> 

12. Downloadable Files.

• links to external (say downloadable) documents, like PDF files should be marked after the link; e.g.:

<a href="http://example.com/downloads/example.pdf">my XYZ Report</a> (PDF, 22.3MB)

• optionally add a "download" attribute to effect a "save as" filename; e.g.:

<a href="http://example.com/downloads/example.pdf" download="Jane-Does-free-xyz-report.pdf">my XYZ Report</a> (PDF, 22.3MB)


There is nothing cast in stone. This series is meant as a guide, when you are analyzing your site for ways to improve both your visitors' experience, and your ability to attract more targeted visitors through one of the most simple, basic building blocks—the anchor element and its link text.

--Fran

© Copyright 2016, Fran Corpier


More resources

Si, Sean (2011) Link Placements. SEO Hacker. - placement of links

Gray, Michael (Sep 2, 2010) How to Silo Your Website: The Sidebar. Graywolf's SEO Blog. - sidebar strategies

Gray, Michael (Aug 17, 2010) How to Silo Your Website: The Breadcrumb Trail. Graywolf's SEO Blog. - breadcrumb navigation strategies

Gray, Michael (Aug 10, 2010) How to Silo Your Website: The Masthead. Graywolf's SEO Blog. - masthead strategies

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Recent Comments

23

Bookmarked this one too! Thanks again Fran.

Great to hear from you Debby. I love bookmarking, too. Thanks! :)

Thank you Fran, you're a big asset in my future.
Tagged and ready....

I'm happy to be here for you, Therese. Keep up the good work!
--Fran

And thanks for your kind answer!☺

Fran, I did some coding in 2000 and 2001 using html, active server pages Dreamweaver and some other applications. But in late 2001 the dotcom bust hit and I moved to other pursuits. One of the reasons for the bust is that so many people were developing websites that it undercut the gurus in charge. Now WordPress and other largely front end sites have come to the fore. Thank you for your series. We all need to be refreshed in back end coding applications.

I recall exactly what I was doing in those years, as well, Michael. I'm starting to gain an appreciation for WordPress, even though it seems burdened with complexity—so many files, and database-storage of every little thing.

Michael, your point is insightful from another perspective; because the inspiration behind these blogs of mine—are that a little control of the process can go a long way. By that, I mean the totality of operations within the WordPress Content Management System which ultimately control the underlying structure of the page.

In other words, I would not like for a theme designer to control aspects of my business, just because I love his or her design moxy. Aesthetic design and optimal page structure for visitor engagement and navigation and SEO optimization are two different animals.

I'm still learning WordPress (the system), despite the fact that I'm an expert in the various markup, scripting, and programming languages it employs. Thus, I have as much to learn here at WA as I have to share.

Thanks again, Michael, for participating and for your support,
--Fran

You're welcome Fran. Themes are involved with Cascading Style Sheets. If you search Jay's webinar archives (I think it was in 2013) He has a good presentation on them and I believe goes into the coding secrets there.

Thanks, Michael. I'm very familiar with CSS ("cascading style sheets"), JavaScript, XHTML, HTML5, MySQL, and PHP—the code upon which WordPress is built (besides other server-side languages). It's the WordPress API with which I have no familiarity.

The language of the API ( PHP )—yes; but not the interface itself. I haven't yet studied it. I'm at least starting to learn my way around the dashboard, and what can't be done without breaking into the code. That's a start. :)) (Although I have had to change some of the code, too, to fix stuff; transferring it to a child theme of course.)

I have printed out some of the WordPress codex, and will certainly search through Jay's videos to see what he has to say about the codex, too. Thanks for that. Every day, I learn something new, either from our compatriots, here, or from experimenting on my WP sites.
:)
--Fran

Thanks You Fran,
This is an awesome resource to have! I know this will come in very handy! It's been more years than I care to remember since comp sci101- lol. I may have some questions before the (I got it!) moment!
Enjoy you week!
Chas

Chas, Jovo just asked some very good question, to clarify some fuzzy areas. Please come back and read my responses, as they may help clear up some things for you, as well.

I love questions, Chas. So don't hesitate to ask right here. If you wonder about the meaning or application of something, others may be curious about the same exact thing. Bring them on. ;)

And thank you so much for letting me know you came by to read.

--Fran

Thanks Fran, but I do have to agree with jvranjes below...some of it is a tad technical!

Yes, it is Jude. I'm sorry; but it has to be. It's the only way for each of us to learn and advance. We have to be exposed to things beyond our reach in order to ask the questions, in order to learn. The web is purely technical.

That said, I realize that some of this may go over the head of beginners; and yet it is important for non-beginners, too. So I would rather expound in answers to questions.

This way, I can gear the answer to the individual. If I know it is an experienced individual asking; then I can get "deep in the weeds" with them. If it is a beginner or novice asking, then I can unwind the mysteries which are encased in the language of the web.

It's my preferred way of training. Because it seems to work.

Please do feel free to ask questions about anything that is confusing.
Also please see my answers to Jovo's specific questions.

I so appreciate you, Jude.

:D
--Fran

Fran, I wish to thank you, but must say I do not understand half of it.

Some examples:
- In item 2: 'use html lists styled with css; not javascript dynamic menus'. This is Old Greek to me.
-'Masthead. only top keyword here'. What is masthead, what is top keyword?
- Similar in item 4. What is 'link home page to the domain name'? Have no idea what you mean. Same with 'do not link to index php'. What is this?

There are more. Write for ignorant please.

Hi, Jovo!
I did take some shortcuts in order to make bullet points.

Thanks for asking these questions!
Answers:
- item 2 - those who fashion their own HTML, used JavaScript (for many years) to make menus responsive, opening to subcategories when clicked, and all sorts of fancy things. These days we use stylesheets with CSS. Our WordPress themes have a styles.css file, which might govern the styles of menus. It depends on the theme. Thankfully, if you don't understand this section, it doesn't apply to you. :) Additionally, I believe most WordPress theme developers, today, use CSS for their menus; so in all likelihood, we're good on this point.

- "masthead" refers to the very top of the page, in general. Some things which traditionally appear in the masthead of a page are: logo, name of the company, domain name, or banner ads. Essentially the rule here is to keep it clear of links (this includes any banner ad), unless the link relates to the primary keyword for the entire site.

I realize that we focus on keywords, here, page by page, and post by post. But we should also be able to identify the keyword for our site, overall. And if there are any links in the masthead, the link text ( i.e., "link label" or "anchor text" ) should be this one.

- The point of item 4 is: whenever linking to your site, no matter what the home page URL is, just link to the domain itself. Don't use the literal file name.

So even if the complete URL to your home page is:
http://example.com/index.php
or
http://example.com/home/

The link should always be to:
http://example.com

The reason why is because this is what others will link to, from the outside. And you want the links to your site to be consistent in this regard.

Just a note: every page you see on the web has a "filename" and/or directory name associated with it on the server or, in a configuration file. So this item is about cutting off the cruft from the URL and linking directly to your domain name, whenever the end goal is to point to your home page.

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Does this help? Ask more questions if you need to. I'm more than happy to respond to them all, Jovo. I love answering questions.

And thank you! It means a lot that you asked, because it means you want to understand and know more.

--Fran

Thank you Fran, you are clearly more than capable of answering professionally. Much appreciated.

You're much appreciated, Jovo.
And so are your questions. :D
--Fran

Thanks for this valuable information, I am really enjoying your blogs! Cheers, Lisa

Great to hear, Lisa! Thanks!
--Fran

Fran, I just love your stuff!! Outstanding as usual !!!

Big Fan of Fran!

You're just awesome, PJ. I'm stoked that you like my articles. Thanks!
--Fran

Superb post Fran, and so valuable. Thanks for taking the time.
Have a great rest of the week
Joseph

Really appreciate your note here and in my profile, Joseph. You have a great week, too!
--Fran

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