Internal links are an important component of SEO that is often overlooked. While external links are commonly discussed, internal links play a crucial role in optimizing your website’s structure and improving its visibility to search engines.
So, what exactly is an internal link, and how does it impact SEO? Let’s have a look at some tried-and-tested internal linking best practices.
What is an Internal Link?
An internal link is a hyperlink that connects one page of a website to another page on the same site. These links are used to navigate your website and guide visitors to relevant content. Internal links can be found in various forms, such as menu navigation, contextual links within the content, or even footer or sidebar links.
Think about when you’ve read a blog post on a site, and the writer threw in a link to another related article on the site.
That’s internal linking.
Using link strategies helps Googlebot understand your website better and often increases your chances of ranking in search results for your target keywords (depending on how strategically you’ve set up your link plan and anchor texts).
Why Do Internal Links Matter to SEO?
Internal links are valuable for SEO because they serve multiple purposes:
- Enhanced Crawling and Indexing: Search engine crawlers discover new content by following links from one page to another. By strategically placing internal links, you guide search engines to important pages and ensure they are crawled and indexed.
- Improved Website Structure: Internal links help establish a logical structure for your website. When you interlink pages with relevant anchor text, it signals the relationship and hierarchy between different pages. This aids in better user navigation and allows search engines to understand the context and importance of each page.
- Distributing Link Equity: Internal links contribute to the distribution of link equity (also known as “link juice” — more on these later) throughout your website. When a page receives backlinks, some of that authority is passed to other pages through internal links. This helps strengthen the visibility and ranking potential of interconnected pages.
- User Experience and Engagement: Internal links provide a seamless browsing experience for visitors by guiding them to related or complementary content. When users can easily find and access relevant information, they are more likely to stay on your site longer, reducing bounce rates and increasing engagement metrics.
Examples of Internal Links
This landing page on our site listing our Digital PR Services links to an internal blog post called What Makes a Quality Backlink. A quality backlink is an important aspect of an agency that offers digital pr services. Thus, both of these pages relate to one another and both provide value to the reader in different yet similar ways.
As you can see, we used an anchor text of “what makes a quality link” to link to our blog post about that topic. This is an example of how to use a target keyword in an anchor text in a way that makes contextual sense and fits an SEO strategy.
Here is a second example of how to use anchor text.
In this example, we link from the Markitors landing page on Technical SEO Services to our free SEO audit tool with the anchor text “SEO audit tool.” This is a relevant anchor text because it tells Google and the user what page is linked and demonstrates why.
How Internal Links Are Used
Here are a few examples of how internal links can be used:
Contextual Internal Link
In a blog post about “Internal Linking Best Practices,” you can include an internal link to another blog post on your website titled “5 Dos and Don’ts of Internal Linking.” The anchor text for this link could be “internal linking best practices” or “internal linking rules.”
Navigational Internal Link
On your website’s homepage, you can have a navigation menu that includes links to different sections or categories of your website, such as “About Us,” “Services,” “Blog,” and “Contact.” These navigation links allow users to navigate to different pages within your site.
Related Article Internal Link
Within a product page, you can include an internal link to a related article or guide that provides more information about the product or its usage. For example, if you’re selling hiking boots, you could link to a blog post titled “The Ultimate Hiking Gear Checklist.”
Supporting Internal Link
In a service page discussing “Link Building Services,” you can internally link to a page explaining “Link Building Process” or “Benefits of Linking.” These supporting internal links provide additional information and help users explore related topics.
Category Internal Link
Within a product categories page listing various products or articles, you can include internal links from the product titles or article titles to their respective individual pages. This allows users to easily access detailed information about each item.
Remember, when creating internal links, it’s important to use relevant anchor text that accurately describes the linked content. This helps search engines understand the context and relevance of the linked pages and improves the overall user experience on your website.
How Do Internal Links Affect SEO?
Google is able to see relationships between various content on your website when you use internal links. Googlebot starts crawling your homepage and then follows link by link to connect related relevant content so it gets a clear sense of your site’s hierarchical structure.
When you internally link to a page on your website, you are indicating its importance to Google. By creating internal links, you are signaling that the linked page holds value and relevance within your site’s content structure. Google recognizes this signal and assigns a level of importance to the linked page.
When a page is deemed important by Google, it has a greater chance of receiving visibility and ranking higher in search results. This is because Google’s algorithms consider the internal links as indicators of the page’s significance and usefulness to users. As a result, the page may attract more organic traffic and generate increased engagement.
Link Value (“Link Juice”)
Each page on your website possesses a certain amount of link value, also known as “link juice” or “link equity.” This value is determined by the quantity and quality of both internal and external links pointing to the page. Generally, a page’s link value is distributed among the links it receives.
For example, the homepage of a website often accumulates a significant amount of link value due to its prominence and visibility. When you create an internal link from the homepage to another page on your site, the linked page receives a share of the link value associated with the homepage.
By strategically distributing link value through internal linking, you can direct search engines’ attention toward specific pages and enhance their chances of ranking higher in search results. However, it’s important to note that link value distribution also depends on the number and quality of other internal and external links pointing to a particular page.
By understanding the impact of internal links on page importance and link value, you can develop effective internal linking best practices and strategies to optimize your website’s SEO and improve the visibility of important pages.
Internal Linking Strategies for SEO
There are lots of internal link strategies out there, but here are some of the ones we suggest you utilize.
Have a Page Depth of 3 or 4
Internal linking structure and page depth are important factors when it comes to Google crawling your website. Page depth is the number of clicks it takes to get from the homepage to the destination URL.
The deeper the page is from the homepage, the harder it is for Googlebot and users to find it. Users may become frustrated if a site is hard to navigate and Google won’t be able to crawl as easily.
We recommend having a page depth of 3 or 4 for the primary pages you want to be indexed. It starts with the homepage having a page depth of 1. Then, pages linked on the homepage have a page depth of 2, and so it continues.
Use Clear Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable text within a piece of content that’s usually blue and underlined. It informs readers about why a link appears and what the readers will land on if they click the link text.
Here is what anchor text looks like in HTML. This is the generic anchor text of “click here,” which is not particularly effective for SEO purposes because it doesn’t tell the user or Google what the hyperlinked page is about.
Using descriptive anchor text or long-tail keywords is a better option, especially for internal links.
An anchor text such as “SEO audit” gives Google and readers context about the destination page of the link.
For internal links, anchor text should be straightforward and guide your readers through the different pages of your website.
Breadcrumbs? What kind of internal link strategy is that?
Breadcrumbs, or a breadcrumb trail, use structured data to inform readers where they are on your site and tell Google where a page falls in the site’s hierarchy.
There are three different types of breadcrumbs:
This type of breadcrumb shows the site structure or hierarchy. Here is an example of a hierarchy-based breadcrumb that embodies a clear internal link structure.
Attribute-based breadcrumbs are commonly used for e-commerce sites to show the attributes a user selected. Here is an example of an attribute-based breadcrumb.
A history-based breadcrumb trail outlines how a user got to a specific page by using the steps they took to get there. It’s a common-sense approach for navigational links.
Google’s resource highlights key steps to take to add a breadcrumb trail to your site. Another simple way to add breadcrumbs to your site is by using the Yoast plugin to insert breadcrumb blocks on WordPress.
Internal Linking Opportunities
Internal linking best practices work best if you have a solid strategy before they are applied. These involve creating content topics that work together and building a strong link structure for search engine crawlers to crawl. It also helps provide a better reader experience as they move throughout the page.
What Pages Should You Interlink When Linking for SEO?
Linking to relevant pages is always a good opportunity to take advantage of when writing content. If you have written other content that may be valuable to readers and is related to the topic, use internal links. Ideally, you should link to both relevant and important pages to increase the chances of converting.
When you interlink one piece of content to another, you are creating a content silo for Google. Content silos help users navigate your website, inform crawlers about your site structure, and also transfer authority to the most important pages on your site.
Fix Broken Internal Links
An internal broken link to a page takes users to a page on your site that doesn’t exist. It’s a poor user experience that you want to avoid (remember, focusing on the user is very important for Google).
Taking this precaution is essential to your site’s health.
Tools for SEO Internal Linking Strategies
There are plenty of tools for internal link building out there, but we are going to share a few of our favorites with you. Check these out to solidify your internal linking best practices and boost your SEO. Depending on your site’s needs, you may find that one of these is better than the others.
Ahrefs Link Opportunities Feature
If you use Ahrefs already but don’t know about the link opportunities feature, you are missing out! This feature is actually super neat and can save you so much time trying to find linking opportunities.
To use this tool, first, run a Site Audit so your site can be freshly crawled. Then, click on the Link Opportunities tool on the sidebar. A table will appear with different rows and columns filled with information from your website.
The source page column shows the page Ahrefs recommends you link from to the target page column containing the page to link to. It also shows the keyword mentioned on the source page that you should consider using as the anchor text when linking to the target page.
Ahrefs makes it simple and does all the work for you to find internal linking opportunities. We highly suggest trying out Ahrefs for its abundance of tools and features.
Yoast SEO Internal Linking Tool
If you are using a WordPress site, Yoast SEO offers its own internal linking tool. The Yoast SEO internal linking tool sets you up for success by giving you a structured site of connected content. A structured site helps with user experience as well as ranking on search engines.
With this internal linking tool, you can save time by using the suggestions Yoast SEO for relevant links makes while you are typing and use the drag and drop feature without leaving the editor. While you are writing new content, the tool will suggest related content that is already on your site. This makes internal linking effortless.
Steve Toth’s Reverse Silo Internal Linking Spreadsheet
Steve Toth, creator of SEO Notebook, offers a free Reverse Silo Internal Linking Spreadsheet for webmasters to use for their internal link strategy. Toth takes an approach with a “virtual silo” that links pages together through contextual links to create a topical silo as we talked about earlier.
This method has been shown to be effective for internal linking, particularly when conducting an internal link analysis. Learn how to use the spreadsheet on SEO Notebook’s blog post. This method may look complex at first glance, but once you get the hang of it, it gets easier!
Try out one of these tools (or all of them!) to make internal linking a seamless part of the writing process.
Should You Use Internal Link Automation?
The use of internal link automation can be beneficial for certain scenarios, but it should be approached with caution. Internal link automation refers to the practice of using tools or plugins to automatically generate internal links throughout your website.
While automation can save time and effort in creating internal links, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks. Here are a few factors to consider when deciding whether to use internal link automation:
- Context and Relevance: Automated internal linking may not always take into account the context and relevance of the linked content. Manual linking allows you to carefully choose anchor text and select appropriate pages that provide relevant information. Automated linking might not have the same level of precision and may result in less contextually relevant links.
- User Experience: User experience is a crucial aspect of SEO. Automated internal linking can sometimes create excessive or irrelevant links that may confuse or frustrate users. Manual linking allows for a more thoughtful approach, ensuring that the links are genuinely helpful for users navigating your website.
- Control and Customization: Automated tools may not provide the level of control and customization that manual linking offers. With manual linking, you have full control over the anchor text, placement, and linking strategy. This allows you to optimize your internal links based on your specific SEO goals and content structure.
- Site Structure and Organization: A well-structured and organized website is important for both users and search engines. Manual linking enables you to establish a logical hierarchy and structure within your site, guiding users and search engines through your content more effectively. Automated linking may not always align with your desired site structure and may result in a less coherent user experience.
In summary, while internal link automation can offer convenience, it’s crucial to carefully consider the potential trade-offs. Manual linking allows for more control, context, and customization, ultimately leading to a better user experience and a more optimized website structure.
We recommend including manual linking to your internal linking best practices list. Automated linking is not bad per se, but, again, should be used judiciously and in conjunction with a thoughtful manual linking strategy to ensure the best results for your SEO efforts.
Now, you can use these internal linking SEO best practices and strategies to improve your website’s SEO and user experience. As you understand more deeply how important internal linking is and why it matters for SEO, you will be ready to tackle your strategy and improve your website. Internal linking is a necessary step to take for any successful website, especially when focused on link authority.
If an internal link strategy sounds too complicated or you need more help with Technical SEO, learn more about Markitors Technical SEO Services today! We have helped businesses of all sizes tackle this rather tricky world of internal linking and are eager to see you succeed in this area.