Link building goes hand in hand with search engine optimization (SEO). The more backlinks you earn from authoritative sites, the more credibility you build for your brand.
But many companies are missing the mark on an important aspect of their link building process – internal linking.
Internal linking is a simple concept that you need to learn and apply to your current SEO and link building efforts.
What Is Internal Linking?
Internal links are hyperlinks that are located on one page, and they link to a different page on the same domain. They can be used in main page navigation to allow visitors to navigate a website, or they can be used in editorial content.
These links are also often referred to as contextual links – they point readers or site visitors to related content that may be of interest to them.
Why Use Internal Linking?
There are three main reasons to use internal linking:
- It assists with website navigation.
- It administers ranking power and page authority throughout your website.
- It informs the architecture and hierarchy of a website.
Now that you understand the benefits to using internal linking on your site, let’s discuss how it impacts the bigger picture associated with your SEO strategy.
How Does Internal Linking Impact SEO?
Search engines follow links to find content on websites, and they rank the content they discover on the search engine results page (SERP). When a post or page has multiple links, it is a signal to search engines that your content is important and highly valuable.
Generally, posting the right internal links helps guide search engines and visitors to your most important pages.
Search engines crawl websites by using bots to follow links. The bot starts at the homepage of a website and begins to interpret the page and follows the first link it crawls.
Following links allows search engines to decipher the relationship between each page, post, and other content types. Then, they find out which webpages on your site discuss similar subject matter.
Each link on your website holds some sort of value to search engines. The homepage of your website usually has the greatest link value since it has the highest amount of backlinks.
For example, if you post your newest blog posts on your homepage, they will get more link value. Search engines often find new posts faster when they are linked to your main page.
The more valuable links you have, the greater your chances are for ranking high on a search engine results page.
9 Internal Linking Best Practices
Although internal linking is fairly simple and easy to execute, there are some best practices that may help you use internal links more effectively.
Apply Keyword-Rich Anchor Text.
Internal links should be applied to the anchor text in your content instead of the images. You may apply links to images as long as they are not the main link source in the content and are properly alt-tagged.
To properly use anchor text, make sure you are using words and phrases in your text that are unoptimized. Mix up your internal link anchor text for the best SEO results.
For example, don’t continuously link “mobile-friendly” in your content so as to not appear spammy. Instead, link “optimized for mobile devices” or some other related text without exact phrasing.
Link to Your Website's Important Pages.
Figure out which of your webpages have the most link authority by using a link building tool like Moz or Ahrefs. Link from those pages to other pages you’d like to boost the ranking potential for. Avoid linking to the homepage, contact us page, and pages on your site that already have links on the main navigation menu.
The most natural links are often deep within your site structure.
Differentiate Anchor Text For Each Page.
Using the same anchor text for two different pages confuses search engines. For instance, say you have two pages on your website. One page is about gluten free pie crust, and one page is about low-carb pie crust. You would want to avoid using "pie crust" as anchor text to link to.
When search engines crawl your site, they will think both pages are about the exact same thing. Instead, use descriptive and specific anchor text for internal linking.
Create Content Often.
In order to have a good amount of internal links, you need a good amount of content. Create content on a regular basis and develop a content marketing strategy to support your linking strategy. This way, you can create many internal links that take your users to many helpful places.
When you create high-quality content, remember to include targeted keywords that are relevant to your target audience and have a good amount of search volume. Internal linking should be natural, but you can help guide your content and linking opportunities by using specific long-tail keywords to drive conversions.
Conduct Audits of Internal Links.
Every six months to a year, audit your internal links to see how they are performing. This helps you to ensure your site has a consistent and optimized linking structure. It also helps you to eliminate orphan pages – pages that are not a part of your website structure because they don’t contain internal links that point to them.
A good tool to use for auditing your internal links is Google Search Console. This tool has a feature called "links" that provides you with reports that allow you to see where most of your internal links point.
This is the perfect starting point for identifying more opportunities for building internal links that boost the pages you want to rank higher for.
Use Links Intentionally.
Strive to link to relevant materials rather than linking for the sake of adding extra links to your text.
For example, if you have a page about backpacks and a page about kitchen appliances, then it’s best not to link the two pages because they aren’t related. But, if you have a page about kitchen appliances and an article about cleaning solutions to use on kitchen appliances, then it would make a great internal link.
Only link to content that overlaps and has similar context.
Add Internal Links Manually.
Automated internal linking tools don’t link optimally for your users. They only link for SEO purposes, and your anchor text may be spammed by an automatic linking plug-in. Plug-ins and tools also include internal links without considering which pages on your site have the most link power. That's a costly oversight.
If you want to conduct an internal linking strategy that is tactful, it is best to link manually so you can apply your linking strategies and reap the benefits from them.
Add Links to Refresh Old Pages.
When you conduct your SEO audits, consider refreshing old pages and articles with new links to boost your SEO rankings.
- Start by finding an old article on your site from about a year ago.
- Then, find recent pages you published related to the old article.
- Lastly, review your old page to see where you can add internal links to a new page.
After you complete this process, you’ll have new helpful internal links on your old pages in just a few minutes.
Include a Reasonable Number of Links.
Make sure you have a reasonable number of links, but don’t spam your content with a bunch of them. While there is not a set "reasonable number" of links to place on a page, you should probably stick to about three or four internal links in content that exceeds 1,500 words.
You may add more links to your content, but only if you believe they are helpful to your user. The best rule of thumb in marketing is that simple – do it if it delivers more value for your audience.
3 Internal Linking Examples
To help you further understand the best ways to use internal links, here are a few examples from awesome companies who are boosting their SEO results:
The Fitbit blog uses contextual internal links to link to their other blog pages to provide value for the site user. Many contextual links offer users clarification or in-depth looks at topics mentioned in the core article. It allows visitors to learn more about the things they are interested in.
Fitbit does a good job of using natural anchor text. For example, one of their internal links is "Cardio Fitness Score," which leads to the second page about getting a clear picture of your fitness with the cardio fitness level from 2016. Each link is shown in pink, which makes the links stand out for the reader.
These internal links are relevant and likely delivering good results for them. And by Fitbit linking a new post to an old post, they help to keep that page refreshed and relevant for new users.
Each homepage usually hosts many internal links to help users navigate the site in the easiest way possible. The goal is to make it easy for your users or clients to find exactly what they are looking for.
For example, our Bluleadz homepage has eight links on the menu bar at the top of our page, and five of those links have additional links attached to them to further help the user with site navigation.
The Services tab in the main nav bar has several other internal links attached to it to direct site users easily. The dropdown displays our team's most common offerings. This way, our readers can find exactly what services they're looking for in no time.
Wayfair Outdoor Rugs Category
Wayfair links products back to brand collection pages to help their shoppers find other items that appeal to their particular style and taste.
For instance, the rug below is a part of a collection called "Beachcrest Home" that is linked above the product picture and review. This is extremely useful for sites that have thousands of products with multiple brands names. The internal links provide a simple and easy way to navigate the site.
Leverage Internal Links for Big SEO Wins
There are many ways to apply internal linking practices to your site content. When you apply the nine best practices in this article, internal linking is less overwhelming, difficult, and complicated.
But remember that internal linking is just one small part of SEO best practices. Your ability to build quality links from both external and internal resources will impact how well you climb the SERPs.
As you build a stronger link profile for your site, you will see long-term SEO benefits.