The Basics of Internal Linking for SEO

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You’ve probably heard of external links but have you heard about internal links? Internal links are a huge component of SEO and are simple to implement but are often overlooked.

There are internal linking strategies that we will talk about later on, but for now, we’ll start by explaining what an internal link actually is and how it’s used for SEO.

What is an Internal Link?

An internal link is a link on your website that leads to another page on your site. 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.

Google uses the internal links on your website to effectively crawl or index other pages on your site. 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 strategic you’ve set up your internal links and anchor texts).

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 who 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.

internal linking seo

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.

internal linking seo

In this example, we link from 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 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.

Page Importance

Put simply, when you internally link to a page on your website, you are telling Google that that page is important to your site. If it’s important to your site, and you make that clear to Google by internally linking to it, then Google will pay attention to it.

Google will give the page more visibility and more attempts to rank higher in search results. This is also because an internal link from one page passes link value (also known as “link juice” or “link equity”) to the other page.

Link Value (“Link Juice”)

Every page on your site has a different level of link value based on the number and quality of the internal links and external links the page has secured. For instance, according to Yoast SEO, a site’s homepage generally has the most amount of link value.

So if you link from your homepage to another page on your site, Google will a) think that page is important and pay attention to it, and b) that page will get more link value from the homepage than if it were linked to from a different page.

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.

what is an internal link

Using descriptive anchor text related to your target keyword is a better option, especially for internal links.

internal linking seo

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.

Use Breadcrumbs

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:

Hierarchy-Based

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.

internal linking seo

Attribute-Based

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.

internal linking seo

History-Based

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

What Pages Should You Interlink

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.

internal link structure

(source: Ahrefs)

Fix Broken Internal Links

Broken links are bad news.

An internal broken link to a page takes users to a page on your site that doesn’t exist. It’s a negative experience for users that you want to avoid (remember, focusing on the user is very important for Google).

We use Broken Link Check to run an audit to see if there are any broken links on our website. Once we know what links are broken, we fix the broken links or remove them completely.

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 up your internal linking game 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.

Conclusion

Now, you can use these internal link strategies to improve your website’s SEO and user experience. Since you know 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 internal link strategy sounds too complicated or you need more help with Technical SEO, learn more about Markitors Technical SEO Services today!

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