You’ve probably heard that including internal links in your copy and web pages is the sensible thing to do. But understanding why that’s the case and how it affects search engine optimisation (SEO) will take your internal linking strategy to the next level. We’re going to run through the six key SEO benefits that internal linking brings.
What is an internal link?
In case you’re not familiar with internal links, they’re a hyperlink that connects one page on your site to another – like this link to our copywriting services page. A great example of internal linking is Wikipedia, as every article has dozens of internal links to other Wikipedia pages. Normally, internal links are the blue, clickable words in the content, but this can differ depending on the site’s theme/design. Regardless of the colour of the internal link, the principle remains the same.
Let’s jump straight into the six key ways internal linking helps your SEO.
1. It allows readers to explore your website
As the website owner, you have complete control over how you internally link, and your users’ navigation experience and reading path. Different readers land on your site with different intents, and so matching these intents to your content is crucial to your SEO strategy. Some people will want to explore your products or services, while others will want to get in contact with you – their reader paths will differ.
Ensuring you direct readers to content they want will positively impact SEO through strong engagement metrics – you want to have a low bounce rate and high page-view time – and good internal linking does this.
2. It helps define site architecture
Site architecture is all about establishing a strong website in terms of content to create a positive experience for visitors. You create a strong foundation of internal links for your site that match the intent of readers visiting your site. This helps define your readers’ journey to becoming a customer but also defines what your site looks like (don’t mistake this for site hierarchy, which is a different thing!).
3. It helps spread link equity
Every link carries something called link equity and this is the value a page has that can be shared or distributed to another page to help it rank. The elements that make up link equity are value, trustworthiness, topic relevance and page authority.
For example, if you have a high-ranking page on Google, it means that it will carry a large amount of link equity. You can distribute this equity to another page you want to rank through an internal link. Just make sure not to have too many internal links from a high-ranking page as it will dilute the value of equity it can pass on.
4. It helps content discovery
Internal links positively impact SEO as they help your content to be discovered by both readers and search engines. Internal links connect pieces of content together and help readers discover different content they may be interested in. This will help your SEO as it encourages readers to engage with your site for longer and lowers your bounce rate.
Internal links help Google find your content as they form the path that Google will crawl. If you have a solid internal linking structure, you will make it easy for Google spiders to crawl and index pages on your website to then display in search engines. For a more detailed explanation on how spiders work, read How Google Search Works.
5. It helps you rank for target keywords
Internal linking can help a page rank for a keyword you want to target. The first step is to use a keyword tool such as Google Keyword Planner to identify the keyword you want to target. Then, you will start to build internal links to the page you want to rank for this keyword, with the keyword as the anchor text.
This sends a clear signal to Google that that page is about that keyword, and increases the pages relevance to the keyword. For example, if we wanted our blogger outreach page to rank for the keyword blogger outreach service, we would build internal links from other pages on our site to the blogger outreach page with the anchor ‘blogger outreach services’.
6. It refreshes older posts
Internal linking has the ability to drive new traffic to older pages or blog posts on your website and help them rank again. Often, content that’s a little older can still be useful to readers, so using internal links from newer content can refresh them. These internal links also provide context for the reader, as an older blog post may be just what you want to link to from a newer one you’re writing.
Internal linking is an often overlooked activity which can seriously improve the SEO of your site, because you have complete control over it. Internal linking can improve engagement metrics, keyword rankings, site architecture and reader experience – just remember to internally link for your visitors, and the SEO benefits will follow.