Link architecture is one of those SEO techniques that falls under a number of different umbrellas. It has elements of technical optimization, thanks to its navigation functionality and ability to direct traffic flow through the site. It’s also part of content creation, since any good, optimized piece of content on a site undergoing search engine optimization work will naturally link through to other pages within the site. Or you could say that it sits under the link building tree, as it involves the creation of links from one point to another. With all of this potentially confusing pigeonholing going on, is your link architecture suffering?
In an ideal world, a search engine spider would start at the homepage of your site and crawl through each subsequent page in turn until it had processed every part of your domain. In practice, search engines can struggle to find each page. If your sitemap isn’t up-to-date, for example, and no inbound links have been built from external sites, a search bot may not know that a new page even exists.
Text-based linking within your site should be intuitive. To ensure you’re building the best possible site for both search engine rankings and the user experience, you must make it easy to find information and travel deeper within the site. If the visitor doesn’t use your sophisticated navigation system or click through to the sitemap, is there still a route through the site? If not, you may see a high bounce rate on certain pages. Similarly, a user clicking through an organic ranking, other external link, or selecting a paid advert will rarely land on the home page. If they miss this front door to the site, link architecture steps in to help them find their way from page to page.
Text links are not just for the human visitor. Keeping link architecture in mind when creating new content will also encourage the search engines to rank you a little more favorably. Using optimized anchor text, much like that used for inbound linking, is a great signal to the search engines what the next page is about. Using keywords in the text link helps them identify what they should be considering ranking the page for.