Last week Panda 4.0 rolled out and along with it a lot of new analysis as to what can trigger it. I started to write up my own analysis today, but decided to table that until next week when I can collect more data. However, in the meantime I think we should still talk about Panda. But instead of hashing out how to escape this filter, I would rather talk about ways to build a site that is never a target.
Part of any site development is planning how users will navigate the content. When SEO is considered this typically means internal link strategies. Here at IMN we love talking about internal linking for two reasons: It is largely ignored as a method to increase search engine traffic, and because if implemented correctly, it can be the easiest way to increase link equity across the domain.
However, if implemented incorrectly it can get you in hot water when it comes to Panda. Therefore here are 5 internal linking strategies that will increase internal link equity and avoid Panda.
Increase Main Navigation
Many, “main navigation”s will include the main sections of a site and completely ignore sub sections. In some ways this is smart because it keeps the navigation clean. However, if you are able to develop a well-organized main navigation with each sub section appropriately placed, then you will be able to increase site wide internal linking in a safe manner. But the trick to avoiding Panda with this strategy is to be extremely well organized and to avoid using manipulative anchor text.
Secondary navigation is meant to showcase links to areas of the site that aren’t a normal part of the main sections but could be useful to all visitors. This might be a “discounts page” or a page for various brands. This type of navigation may even change depending on the page the user is on. For example if a user is looking at the “bathing suit” category, the secondary navigation may list popular bathing suit brands or styles.
Decrease Site Wide Links
A typical internal link strategy is to create site wide links that point to a domain’s most popular pages. The problem with this strategy is that often times these pages are to specific to fit into main or secondary navigation’s. As a result the link is typically found in the side bar or footer and is completely irrelevant to the topic of most of the pages that the link falls on. These types of links need to be minimized. While it may seem that you are ignoring these pages, what you are actually doing is making the links to these pages that you keep, count even more.
You might already know that I love talking about related content. This is because when linking to related content you are increasing the user’s experience and creating links in a very organic way. And if you are really good at linking to related content you can increase conversions as well. Related products, blog post, and forum threads are all areas that you can explore when implementing this strategy. And, if your site uses categories or tags, you can even automate this process. The reason I love the strategy so much is because it avoids patterns that would normally trigger an algorithm while at the same time funneling link equity to pages that normally wouldn’t get links.
Breadcrumbs are an awesome way to increase internal linking. These types of links not only place relevance on each page, but they also help users navigate the site. Typically breadcrumbs are structured in the same format that the information architecture is designed. However you can utilize these links to draw traffic and link equity to areas of a site that are related to a page, but might not normally get attention. Plus when you combine these links with schema you are opening up the possibility to attain rich snippets and hopefully a higher click through rate in the SERPs.
BONUS PROTIP: No matter what internal linking strategies you eventually implement, you should always ask yourself if each link “makes sense”. It is extremely important to make sure that every link brings value outside the scope of SEO. Does it bring value to your users? If not then it might be over optimization and is likely a trigger for Panda.