If you’re on the lookout for an approach to SEO that can effectively improve your website’s position in search engine results, you should look into your internal linking process. You must see to it that your content team is implementing it because internal linking is an integral component of an essential SEO strategy called link building.
What are Internal Links?
Internal links are hyperlinks that connect a page of a website to another page on the same website. They are basically intended to redirect website visitors from one page to another. It serves as a prompt that directs them where to go should they want to get enlightened about a topic related to the one in the page they’re reading.
A typical internal link in html code looks like this:
Why are links important to Google?
Both internal and external links allow Google to perform its primary responsibility as a search engine: Calculate the relevance of each website according to the number of links and pages that point back to it.
Google is constantly searching for new content to add to its list of crawled pages, but not all pages are discovered in this manner. Google discovers some pages when it follows a link from a recognized page to a new one.
Internal links play an influential role in Google’s determination of PageRank. The more internal links your page gets, the higher its PageRank goes. Additionally, Google uses internal links to determine the value of your content.
Pages that are not linked to by other pages of the same website lose the chance of being found and indexed by Google and other search engines. They are called orphan pages. They are a perfect representation of your missed opportunities to engage with customers and prospects.
Role of Internal Link to SEO
Internal linking can become more complex over time, but it becomes more important as your website grows. It helps to define your website’s architecture which works to boost ranking and makes navigation easier.
In SEO terms, internal links are designed to accomplish three main purposes:
- Facilitate ease of navigation for users
- Establish information hierarchy
- Distribute ranking points to pages of the same website
How to Set Up Internal Linking
To make sure that Google will see that your linked pages are relevant, related and adding value to one another, you need to devise an internal linking strategy.
To set it up, you should consider a few guidelines.
Determine a structure for your website
An effective approach to this would be to imagine that your website is a pyramid. With your homepage at the top followed by the categories, it would be easier for you to attach individual subsections or pages further down. This will result in a neat website structure that can be clearly reflected in your website’s menu.
Identify your most valuable content
With your website’s structure in place, you should identify which of your site’s content gives the best and most complete picture of your business. It’s the story you want people to see when they search for information about your niche or area of specialization. Your next move would be to let Google know that it’s the most important or cornerstone content on your website. Do it by linking various articles to that same content.
Add contextual links
Once you have written a lot of articles about a particular topic, you need to link them with each other to show Google as well as users that those stories are related topically. Point Google to your cornerstone content by linking all of your related articles to it. You may also link back from your cornerstone content to the individual articles that link to it.
Add navigational links
In addition to linking from topically-related pages, you can enhance the authority of your cornerstone content by linking your homepage or top navigation menu to it. This will make Google understand the value of your cornerstone.
Add links to your taxonomies
Taxonomy refers to the way you categorize or classify topics in your website. It helps you organize your website and help Google and people understand your content.
Considering that your website has a blog page, you should add internal links to the categories where particular posts belong. Doing this will help Google understand the structure of your blog. It also helps your site visitors to navigate to related posts more easily.
Add links to recent and popular posts
Another way to implement internal linking effectively is to create internal links to your newest and most popular posts. You can place these elements in the sidebar to make them appear consistently in the blog.
Adding links from different pages to the newest or most popular posts can give the latter a boost. It also makes recent/popular posts easier for visitors to access. This increases traffic which could help to add credibility points to your website.
Implement an Effective Internal Linking Strategy
The use of internal links is a great way to connect your content from one page to another. It makes Google establish hierarchy on your website. By implementing effective internal linking strategies, you will be able to give your most valuable posts and pages more link value than. It is a clear indication that using the appropriate link building strategy can contribute greatly to a successful SEO.
Here are steps you need to take to develop a working internal linking strategy:
Create Lots of Content
Internal links will thrive only when your website has lots of internal pages. Therefore, to be able to develop an effective internal linking strategy, you should have an excellent content marketing strategy at the same time.
Creating lots of content means having lots of linkable pages, that’s for sure.
Use Anchor Text
Many SEO professionals don’t recommend the use of exact match anchor text in external link building due to its possible manipulative effect. But when it comes to internal linking, you will see a different scenario. It embraces exact match anchor text because it allows you to be clear and specific with the page you want to link to.
Internal links allow search crawlers to understand your site better. So it would be beneficial to your site if you use anchor text that relates to the page you’re linking to.
By linking deep, you are adding hyperlinks within your content with the intent of directing traffic beyond your home page.
To implement deep linking, you should avoid linking to the places:
- The homepage is the most common direction of internal links. While it is a part of the internal linking process, it is not the most effective approach because it does not contribute to the strength of the overall SEO of your website. Try pointing more links to internal pages instead.
- Contact Us. Linking to your contact page is a common mistake especially for newbies in content marketing. There’s really no need to link to your contact page unless it’s absolutely necessary. Why don’t you just write your business phone number as part of your call to action instead?
Generally, you should avoid linking to top level pages of your website because they already contain links to the main navigation menu. You can find the best links in an internal linking strategy within the structure of a website.
Use Links that are Natural for the Reader
The use of natural links is the fastest and safest way to promote a website. While internal linking can add more information to enrich a readers’ knowledge, it is second only to a more important key point which is providing value. Offering your audience with informative content is already a benefit. But adding value to that information is always a better move.
One of the benefits of internal linking is it boosts the user engagement of your website. It happens when a user sees and clicks a link that matches the context of the information they’d like to know. If that link happens to be directed within your website, it can make your visitor stay longer and be more engaged with your content.
Use relevant Links
Internal linking is not a very meticulous process. But you need to be intentional to achieve its real goal which is to offer your reader with more sources of information about your subject matter. Adding links that are not relevant to your source context doesn’t add value to your readers and run the risk of losing them instead. Establish your website’s credibility to users and search engines by linking only to pages that can reinforce your content.
Use Follow Links
Follow links are blocks you can use to build the internal link architecture of your content marketing campaign. Use them to strengthen your internal linking strategy. Your website’s pages are interrelated to one another. Use follow links to allow the link value to flow freely between internal pages.
While it is widely accepted that using nofollow links works to avoid problems with search engines, it’s doesn’t actually help when used as part of internal linking strategy.
Use a Considerable Amount of Internal Links
Adding dozens of internal links to pages of your website doesn’t help to make it popular; it can even lead to negative consequences instead. To know the number of acceptable internal links, just refer to this answer from Google: “Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number.” There’s no definite quantity, but a reasonable number should be three or four, but you can add more depending on the length of your content. Keeping internal links to a reasonable number maximizes the ability of search engine’s to crawl the other pages of your website.
Internal linking isn’t only an easy thing; it also gives your website a strong link profile and the capability to offer great user experience. Make internal linking a normal routine on your website and SEO will follow naturally.