Internal linking is the way pages in your website link to each other, and how you connect new pages to the rest of your website. They’re an often overlooked search engine optimisation (SEO) technique but can yield great results if done well. Let’s cover why they’re a good thing and how you can plan your own internal link structure to get your site up to scratch.
Internal links are a great SEO tool as they are easy and quick to implement. You decide where to put them, and they’re far easier to implement than backlinks (otherwise known as inbound links or external links). Furthermore, they can generate positive results in a short period of time. Here’s some more reasons why they’re so useful:
Google bots crawl links to discover content and update its web index – a good internal linking structure aids this process. If you’re publishing content consistently (and you should be) and internally linking to it, Google can discover and index it more easily. This means your indexed pages increase alongside with the content you publish, meaning more content to rank for and further SEO opportunities.
If you have a strong, relevant internal link structure, you are boosting the link-equity opportunity for deep-content pages. If you have a clear click-through path, you are giving your deeper content pages a better chance of gaining some of that link equity. This happens because through your internal links, you’re managing crawl priority – check out this Moz post for more information.
Google’s algorithm is incredibly sophisticated and uses other metrics to determine the value of a backlink and how the value flows through your site, but on a basic level, backlinks bring equity. Having a good internal link structure can help distribute this equity brought from a backlink to the rest of your website.
When you internally link, you need to embed the link to a word or phrase called the anchor text. The value of the internal link (for SEO purposes) can increase if you use you a target keyword. Google now sees the URL you’re internally linking to and the anchor text in the HTML of a page – effectively two signals of relevance. It’s important to remember that keyword-stuffing your anchors isn’t advised, and anchors that flow well with the overall content are best.
Internal linking is an SEO tool but ultimately your website should put users first. This means your internal links should also provide users with some value. Whether that’s supporting or additional information, your internal links can direct your readers to content that will help them make a decision, research or simply enjoy reading your content. The key to remember is that users are the ones that will truly appreciate your content.
Now that we’ve gone over what internal links can do for your website, we’re going to cover some techniques that will help you plan your internal link structure. Let’s get straight into it.
You should include internal links between your deeper, longer-content pages as they can often be forgotten – you’ll already have internal links to main pages via your navigation bar, header and footer. Also, by linking two long-form pieces of content, you enable readers to go from one piece of comprehensive content to another, thereby directing them to high-value content.
You want to use anchor texts that relate to what the linked to content is about. For example, if you produce travel content and you want to link to a page about things to do in Spain, then using the anchor text ‘things to do in Spain’ is great. Always ensure your reader knows what they’ll find by clicking on an internal link.
New, fresh content is looked upon favourably by Google, so it’s important to include internal links to older content. By linking to older pieces of content from new pieces of content you’re increasing the chances it will rank by making it easily accessible to readers – that is, those who read your new content and follow the internal link to the old post.
Updating new content with new internal links is a great way to keep older content relevant and fresh. If you accompany these new internal links with updated high-quality copywriting, you can help boost the ranking of that piece of content. Give old piece of content a refresh, as well as your old internal links.
Make sure you include internal links in appropriate places in the content and are relevant to the point you’re trying to make. It can be tempting to cram internal links at the bottom of a piece of content but make sure you distribute them evenly throughout the copy.
Try to always make your internal links follow links. By this we mean try to avoid the no-follow attribute you can place on a link as they (most likely) pass on less value than a follow link. Don’t worry if you do have some no-follow internal links, as they don’t hurt your website – you can just make them do more for your site if they are follow links.
You can use both absolute and relative links in your internal link building strategy but absolute links are preferred. This means that you use the full URL of a page, including the protocol and host name, when linking to a page:
As opposed to:
If you know that some of your pages have a high conversion rate, make sure to link to these. It’s great if you have a page that converts readers and you want to try and direct as much traffic to these pages as possible. Just remember to make the internal links relevant, use natural anchor text and use the absolute URL of the page.
An internal linking structure is one of the SEO techniques that you can decide where to include them, the anchor text, where they point to and how many to include on a page. Furthermore, it doesn’t require incredibly deep dives into Google Analytics to understand what you need to do. Follow the above techniques and you’ll begin seeing positive results for both users and search engines.