We know that one of the most important aspects of SEO is backlinking. It is easier for Google to find your content when it is linked to from somewhere else on the web.
However, when we talk about backlinks, we are often talking about links on other high authority websites.
But what about linking to your new piece of content from elsewhere on your own website?
In this article, we examine the often underrated value of internal linking and the positive impact it can have on your rankings.
What are internal links?
Internal links refers to hyperlinks, which, for example, link from one page of a blog post on a website to another page on the same website. They are useful for both your users and search engines.
Internal links can help users to better navigate a website. They can also keep visitors on your site for longer, as they explore more of your content, improving their time on site.
Internal links also help to spread link equity around your website, sharing the equity from more successful pieces of content.
They do not increase your domain authority but they do pass page authority on, helping other pages to rank on the SERPs (search engine results pages).
What are the different types of internal links?
There are a number of different types of internal linking.
There are the obvious ones which you need to consider when building a website, such as your menu, blog post feed, etc.
The primary purpose of these links is to help users navigate your content and find what they are looking for easily.
Creating a great navigation bar will help send users to the parts of the website that are most important, like the booking page or a contact form.
As well as these obvious signposts, you can also add text links within pieces of content.
These are called contextual links. These links help to show users other pages on your site which might be useful and relevant to them.
Internal links for SEO: why they matter
Good internal linking is crucial to your SEO, as the more links a page receives, the more importance it gains in the eyes of search engines, becoming a high value article. This is true of both external and internal links.
Of course, internal linking is easier for you to control than external links. You may lose external links from time to time and there might not be anything you can about it.
A site may be removed or the site owner may just decide that they do not want to link to your site anymore.
Whereas with internal linking, you can control where you link to, as well as ensuring that you keep the links live.
Internal linking also helps Google to understand the kind of topics your site covers and which pieces of content are similar or related to each other.
In addition to this, Google divides the link value between all of the links on a website. Your homepage will usually be the page that has the greatest link value on your website, as it will have the most domains linking back to it.
This link value is then shared between all of the links on the homepage. And then the link value passed on to the next pages will be divided between all the pages that that page links to and so on and so on.
Therefore, the more links you have to a page or post, the more value it will have and this will increase the chance of that page ranking and driving more traffic to your site.
This case study from Ninja Outreach shows how they boosted organic traffic by a whopping 40% with internal linking!
The best internal linking strategy: pick your most important pages
Your internal linking strategy should always start with your cornerstone content.
Cornerstone content refers to those pages that are absolutely essential for your users. These could be product pages or blog posts, such as in-depth guides, depending on your site.
The pages that are top of this list should be prioritised, receiving the most internal links on your site.
4 top tips for internal linking
You should review your internal linking strategy on a regular basis, to ensure that it stays on track.
Here are some tips to get your started:
1. Add contextual links between posts
When you have posts and pages about the same topic, you should be sure to add links to them from the other relevant pages.
This will help to tell both your users and search engines that these posts are related.
You might like to choose whether you want to add links within the body copy of your posts or add some suggested links at the end of the post, to related content, so that your user can head there once they have finished reading everything on that page.
2. Use descriptive anchor text
Use descriptive text for your anchor text for contextual links, rather than generic signposting such as “click here”, including your new page’s target search terms, where possible.
However, be careful not to over-optimise and do not use the same anchor text for every link.
This will help Google to identify what your page is about. For example, a pet shop might use anchor text such as “reasons to get a dog”.
3. Add a related posts section
To save you time with internal linking, you could add a “related posts” section at the end of all of your blog posts, which will automatically suggest similar posts for the user.
There are lots of plugins available which can do this for you but be careful to check that it is suggesting posts that actually are related first – otherwise it might be better to manually link them each time.
4. Check your site structure
It is important to be clear on your site structure right from when you first build your website.
Your homepage will need to link to your most important pages. And then each of these should link to any child pages. The child pages should also link back to the parent pages too.
5. Do not overdo internal linking
As with anything in SEO, do not overdo it. It is better to be frugal with your contextual internal links and to do it when it is needed and relevant, rather than just for the sake of SEO.
Keep in mind what will work best for your reader. And restrict internal links to three or four per article.