The SEO power of in-content (or “Wikipedia-style”) links may be up for debate but from theory, practice, and experience webmasters know that a link in a context is much more powerful than an isolated (sitewide) link in a sidebar. It is logical to think that internal linking should also be done with the help of in-text link rather than navigation menu.
What’s the difference?
Consists of sitewide isolated links that carry less SEO weight.
Are links in context that allows search engines to learn more about the destination page.
Offers more control over website internal structure: you don’t need to think much of internal interlinking once you set up your navigation.
Are more spontaneous (more difficult to manage) but offer full control over internal anchor text.
Why to choose anyway? Can’t we just use both?
Well, that’s what most of webmasters have been doing until now: using both navigation menu and in-content links. The question itself is: would it be more effective if they choose one (for example excluding navigation menu from crawling with something like iframe and managing the whole internal linking with in-text linking)?
Besides, recent SEO experiments (I tend to believe though they were debated) show that you should always take care that your “best”, most targeted anchor text comes first on the page; so we should seriously think how to achieve that: your sitewide navigation links might leave no chance to any other anchor text you want your page to rank for.
So what’s the solution?
To my mind, in-content links are not going to replace navigation menu completely (after all, there is nothing better from usability point of view and it can be easily and thus effectively managed). The point of this post is to encourage webmasters to experiment moving some of your links from the navigation menu into the content area and also to try the following:
- “related categories” and “related articles” blocks;
- different navigation menu for different page types; etc.