The Ultimate All-In-One Guide to Internal Linking for SEO


by Aleksandra Stefanovic | Jun 21, 2022

It’s no secret that content is king when it comes to website optimization. However, relying on content alone is not enough. Most SEO practitioners also tend to overinvest in backlinks instead of developing a clear internal linking strategy. However, using internal links is necessary to support your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), drive traffic to your pages, and climb the rankings, but studies show over 95% of websites fail at internal linking.

When used strategically, internal linking can significantly boost your website’s performance. It can help you bring traffic in, keep your readers engaged, and drive them to dig deeper. It’s all a matter of learning how to master the art of internal linking. Unfortunately, internal links are largely neglected techniques, even though they’re crucial to SEO success.

There’s no doubt that internal linking is an SEO expert’s most valuable weapon. But are you making the most out of your SEO arsenal? After all, you’re only as strong as your weakest link.

Ready to dive into the fascinating world of internal linking for SEO and learn how to use it to skyrocket your online presence? Let’s launch!

What Are Internal Links?

First things first, what are internal links? Internal links provide users with a clear path to find the information they need on your site. Internal links are links that point from one page on your domain to another or, in other words, hyperlinks with the same source and target domains. In contrast, external links point toward a page outside of a domain.

Believe it or not, internal links are kind of like your best friend. Your sidekick. The Robin to your Batman. And after reading our complete guide to internal linking and SEO best practices, you’ll see why.

Different Types of Internal Links

Internal links come in different shapes and sizes. Still, the two most common types of internal links used are navigational and contextual links.

Navigation links are the most popular internal links that help structure your website and guide the readers through the content. Every page of your website has navigation links. Compared to navigational links, contextual links are links within the main body content of a page that direct users to other relevant pages.

Other types of internal links include:

  • Text links (hyperlinked words or phrases within your content)
  • Image links (images can also be used as internal links)
  • Taxonomy and categorical links (links that connect relevant subjects to make it easier for readers to find content)
  • Site-wide or footer links (placed at the bottom of the page and used to improve the usability of the website)

Sounds pretty simple, right? Go through your site, hyperlink a few keywords, and you’re done. We would wish! There’s actually much more to internal linking, and it all begins with understanding the importance of internal links and what they do for your SEO.

 

 

Why Is Internal Linking Important for SEO?

Savvy business owners and content marketers understand the importance of external links. They’re a crucial ranking factor and a strong trust signal. Where a lot of people stumble is using internal links to direct link equity to where it will have the most significant impact. Internal links don’t earn you the link equity external links do, but they’re essential for directing traffic to pages that attract fewer links or need a much-needed boost in SERPs.

SEO has come a long way since the early days of simple keyword stuffing. Google now uses natural language processing (NLP) to understand a search query better, but its algorithms are far from perfect. They still need context to understand what a page is about, its relationship to other pages, and its importance on your website. And that’s where the actual value of internal links lies.

In-links power your site architecture, convey meaning, funnel authority, boost your rankings and so much more.

Benefits of Internal Linking for SEO

Internal linking has a fundamental role in a website’s performance, both for search engines and for users. Why? The use of internal links strengthens the SEO value of your site. Inner linking provides clear paths for spiders (Google uses internal links to help discover new and relevant content), keeps the users’ attention longer, and puts together a tight network of pages and posts. All of this results in adding credibility to your website and climbing the rankings when it comes to search algorithms.

Generating qualified traffic is a significant part of any digital marketing strategy. In addition to attracting the right people, you need to do this on a large scale to gain authority, generate leads, and close sales. And it’s precisely why the importance of internal links cannot be overstated, even though they receive little to no credit for their role in SEO success.

To sum it up, internal links:

  • Allow search engines to understand a website’s structure, crawl and index it
  • Guide users through navigation between relevant pages
  • Establish content hierarchy
  • Largely contribute to website authority
  • Help spread link equity (ranking power).

Why You Need A Strong Internal Linking Strategy to Boost Your SEO

Simply put, internal linking is the practice of linking to other URLs within the same site, as you already know by now. By giving Google links to follow along with descriptive anchor text, you can indicate which pages of your site are important, as well as what they are about, and rank them better. Internal linking is also good for user experience and can improve user engagement.

So, before your content can rank, it needs internal links. Ready to get into the nitty-gritty and master the fine art of internal linking now that you know how crucial it is for your SEO success?

Let’s get to it!

Internal Linking for SEO: Best Practices

If you had no clue that you need to pay attention to internal links to leverage your digital presence – you’re not alone. Internal linking is an area in SEO that is often overlooked and where many mistakes are made.

Many website owners prioritize the development of natural links to external sources and place less importance on internal links. Nonetheless, internal linking is vital for any site that wants to rank higher on Google. Internal links are a mighty lever — if you use them strategically.

That is why it’s essential to look at how you can focus more on internal linking, avoid the common pitfalls, and develop a solid internal linking strategy for your website. Dwell not, because we’re here to guide you through it every step of the way with some insider tips and tricks!

1. Create Lots of Quality Content

The first step to successful internal linking is to accumulate quality content. You cannot link to internal pages if you have no internal pages. Or if they are poor and scarce. To build many internal links throughout your site, you’ll need to create many internal pages with high-quality content. With lots of fresh content on your website, you’ll have ample internal linking opportunities to utilize.

When developing your content strategy, you should create content that’s good for internal linking. Think about your users’ pain points, interests, problems, and journeys. Create and publish content that aligns with your audience’s needs, answers their questions, and solves their problems as they progress through the funnel. Then, add internal links strategically to capture their interest at the precise moment they might be thinking of the next question.

2. Find Internal Linking Opportunities

When you link to another page on your site, you send link authority to that page, which can, naturally, help that page rank better. You probably have tons of linking opportunities sleeping in your content. That’s why you need to get strategic when looking for internal linking opportunities and links to important pages.

By using internal links, you can transfer link equity from a high-authority page to a low-authority page. Use SEO tools to find pages on your site that rank for related topics and make sure they link with descriptive anchor text. Strategically link from your “power pages” to those that need some link juice.

3. Use Anchor Text Wisely

Links with descriptive anchor text work best. But not any anchor text will do. Internal link anchor text influences your rankings, so why not use it to your advantage? Since you have complete control of the anchor text used on each internal link on your website, make sure you use it in a way that indicates the topics of your target page. Remember contextual links?

Include phrases that describe what the target link is about to give it relevance. Do not link more than one sentence (use sentence fragments) and avoid forcing exact-match anchor text within the content as it can look unnatural and spammy. Look for natural ways to place it instead to ensure that the readers understand what they’re getting when they click on the link.

While internal linking opportunities should occur naturally, you can nudge things in the right direction by using lower volume or long-tail keywords in your content. And last but not least, never use the same anchor text – mix things up and keep it diverse.

4. Be Intentional and Use Relevant Links

You need to think like your readers to do the best internal linking. What does the reader want when they visit your site? The primary purpose of an internal linking strategy is to offer a better user experience. When you’re adding internal links to a piece of content, you’re telling the user that the linked web pages will match the context of that particular content. So, it’s imperative that you make sure the links relate to one another.

The practice of internal linking needs to be intentional. You are not linking for the sole purpose of linking. You are directing your reader to content that they might find helpful. That content or topic needs to relate to the one they are currently reading and the target keyword. So, always ensure the content between two internal links is relevant and connected.

5. Link Deep

The deeper your internal links go – the better. This means you need to have links that take your users to different internal pages within your domain and not the same handful over and over again. It also means avoiding internal links directing your site visitor to the homepage or contact page. There is no need to take them back to where they began or to a dead end. Instead, link to pages that are present deep within the structure of your site to get users to read more substantive content.

6. Pay Attention to Link Location

Link placement matters. It might be tempting to get lazy and throw them at the bottom of a blog post. However, internal links placed high up on a webpage increase the time spent on the web page and reduce bounce rate.

When you add an internal link at the beginning of an article, people will have something to check out right away and are more likely to click on the link. Of course, you need to distribute your internal links throughout the content, but placing a few at the top never hurts.

7. Fix Broken Links

To properly optimize an internal link structure, you need to fix any potential issues. Broken links waste and dilute link equity and result in poor user experience. They’re a waste of link power and could hurt your SEO. Google is a link-based search engine and websites “lacking care and maintenance” are rated as “low quality.” If your links are broken, you miss out on all the benefits internal linking can provide.

8. Use Dofollow Links

Ever heard of PageRank Sculpting? Back in the day, webmasters would nofollow internal links to stop PageRank from flowing to unwanted URLs. That’s no longer the case. Nofollow links do not have any impact on the search engine rankings of the destination site. On top of that, Google bots won’t even crawl them. So, ditch the nofollow attributes and add only dofollow internal links unless you don’t want Google to discover your pages.

9. Consider Site Navigation and Architecture

Internal links define site architecture and hierarchy by creating funnels that direct users through your website. They can help you create a site architecture that makes it easy for both Google and your users to find what they came for. If you have a strong internal linking structure, your website will be successfully crawled, indexed, and ranked by search engines and easily navigated by users.

10. Don’t Go Overboard

Generally speaking, the more internal links a page has, the higher its PageRank. However, it’s not all about quantity – the quality of the internal links plays a vital role.

Like all things in SEO, you need to approach your internal linking strategy logically and organically. Don’t create internal links just for the sake of it. Too many internal links can confuse search engines, undermine authority, dilute the PageRank and create a less than ideal user experience, so don’t go crazy with internal links on your site.

While there is no definite answer as to how many internal links on a page are too many, limiting the number of internal links per page to a reasonable number can provide additional SEO benefits. So, rather than fixating on the number of internal links pointing to a given page, focus on ensuring they make sense from a contextual and user experience perspective. Less is more, so be selective.

Mastering The Art of Internal Linking: An SEO Strategy That Works Wonders

Formulating a strong internal link strategy doesn’t have to be complicated, though it does involve approaching things from the right perspective. The best internal linking practices come down to simply using common sense. As search engines get smarter by the day, long gone are the days of stuffing your content and links with keywords.

Link smart and naturally. Help both users and search engines navigate your website with internal links, and above all, make sure every internal link contributes to a positive experience for anyone visiting your site. Google, a user experience-centered search engine, will also appreciate it.

Now that you have the strategies you can use to boost the effectiveness of your internal link-building efforts and fulfill your SEO-related goals, it’s time to put them in motion!

 

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