What is an Internal Link Hub

I use the term internal link hub and link nexus here with some frequency, but I haven’t actually done a post to explain them, to show how/why I feel they are important, and to show how to use them to your advantage. This post should solve that problem.

Simply put, a link hub or link nexus is a concentration of external links to a deep page in your website. It could be one level off the home page or several levels from the home page. IMHO the more link hubs you have, the more natural your website is going to look. Think about it: if you are a search engine, does it make sense that all of the links to a website are going to go to the homepage or does it look more natural if the majority of the links go to the home page but a percentage of links go to other pages? At the far end of the scale are websites like wikipedia, which probably has more links to deep pages than to the homepage.

A secondary benefit of having these deep link hubs is going to be a wider distribution of inbound anchor text. For example, people will link to your homepage with your name, name of the site, name of your company, or primary service. However, people will also link to the internal pages with anchor text that relates more closely to the content of the page. if you were a search engine, which do you think looks more natural: a deep page with 100% focused anchor text like “cheap hotels in las vegas” or anchor text spread amongst “cheap hotels in Las Vegas”, “las vegas hotels”, and “Las Vegas Strip Hotels”.

So what are your link hubs, how do you identify them and how do you use them to your advantage? Hopefully you could pick out your top 10 most linked to pages on your website. But, if you can’t or aren’t sure, here’s a quick and easy way. Go to Google Webmaster Central, go to “your site on the web”, then “links to your website”. You’ll get a page that list the pages on your sites, number of links, and links from source domains. You’re really concerned with the source domain column.

Source Domain Links

Now, a word of caution: just because Google shows a link from a domain doesn’t mean it counts but, unless you have some questionable history, the relationship will be pretty close. The pages that have the most links will generally be your strongest link hubs. However if you have a page that has only a few links, but has them from trusted/well crawled sources, it can be more powerful than a page with more links. Personally I would always prefer fewer links from trusted sources than more links from untrusted sources. Just my two drachmas.

Now that you have identified your linking hubs, you want to make sure you use that incoming link equity to your advantage. Look at those pages and make sure they are linking to other key parts of your website with optimal anchor text from the main body(not the sidebar!) (see how to silo your website, the content and how to silo your website, the sidebar). If the page is an informational page, it’s ok to interlink high level keywords wikipedia style, bit if it’s a commerce page, interlink with caution: usability and conversions are the yin and yang of websites.

If you have looked at your website and have decided you don’t have enough linking hubs and want to build more, what’s your best strategy? Linkbait and social media is the way to go. Create pages with compelling content that people want to link to and promote the content on Twitter, Stumbleupon, reddit, or wherever else makes sense. I have found that pieces with a lot of internal links don’t do as well with social media off the bat, so I wait till the piece has run its course, then I go back and add internal links in. In some cases I have left the URL intact and changed the content entirely, but that’s up to you. I would really caution you against 301 redirecting the URL after the fact because it just throws some funky mojo into mix, and you can never be sure it will always work the way you want.

Lastly, there are some people who are wondering how many link hubs they should have and what’s the magic percentage range they need to shoot for. I’d caution you against playing that game: it just never works in the long term, and it is way to sensitive to algo fluctuations. However, if you are so inclined, read a post from the glory days of Threadwatch (a moment of silence) about the Golden Ratio, including some of the comments.

So what are the takeaways here:

  • Look at your website’s link profile and identify any link hubs
  • Make sure you are using your link hubs wisely with internal links
  • Look for ways to create more link hubs with compelling content or social media content
  • If successful, add internal links after the social media content has run its course

photo credit: Cowboy Dave

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