Internal linking may not be the most glamorous part of SEO, but the value of internal linking is definitely something small business owners should be excited about. Building internal links is a key part of building strong SEO and understanding why will help you see that it needs special attention.
Internal Linking: What Is It?
Internal linking is simply hyperlinking text on a page or blog post of your site to another page or blog post on your site. Let me show you an example.
The words “Google rankings” and “user experience” are both hyperlinked to blog posts on our website that go into detail about how to boost your Google rankings and why user experience is important. We have internally linked them, so people who want more information on either Google rankings or user experience can click on those links. It makes getting information quick and easy – exactly what Internet users and Google want.
Now that you know what internal links are, we can move on to understanding the value of them.
How Valuable Internal Linking Is to Your Site
Internal linking can help you position your site for success in many ways.
Makes Navigation Easier
Google and Internet users rely on internal linking to navigate your website. Imagine visiting a site’s homepage and not finding what you need on it. You want to be able to click a link on the homepage to take you to the information you’re seeking, but there is no place to click. What do you do? Chances are, you’ll abandon the site.
If there were internal links on the homepage (most often in the navigation menu), you would be able to find the section of the site that interests you. From there, you can move on to other pages linked from the first one you visited.
Think of internal linking as the navigation you use in your car to get somewhere. Each link takes you in a direction you want to go to get to your destination.
Improves User Experience
Most users find it’s important for them to be able to explore related content when researching a certain topic. When a reader enjoys a website’s content, they usually like to explore other articles from that site or author.
When you take time to carefully add internal links to related pages or blog posts, you are increasing the value of your content to that particular reader. The website user can easily find additional content you’ve created. Which not only improves their experience but keeps them on your website longer and increases their trust in you as an authority on that topic. Remember, SEO is becoming more about user experience, not just sending signals to search engines.
Helps Pages Get Indexed
When a page has no links to it, that page does not exist because no one will ever be able to access it.
Google’s search engine spider (the bot that crawls websites) will most likely not find every single page published on its own. But, it can find website pages through other pages. If you have a page on your website that has no internal links to it, then that means that you’re relying on external links to your page from other websites to bring Google’s attention to your page, which you have very minimal control over. By engaging in internal linking, you increase the chances that your page will get indexed and rank in Google.
Helps Page Authority
In the SEO world, we have two types of markers for the integrity of a site – Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA). These values provide information about the integrity of the site depending on several factors (age of the site/page, quality of content, external links, etc.). Most often, sites with a high DA will rank highly for the main keywords across the entire site, and pages with a high PA will rank highly for the keywords for that specific page.
Many website owners find that while they have a DA, they may not have high PA for their pages. One solution to helping this is with internal linking. When you link your homepage to a page on your site, Google may view that page more favorably. This could lead to faster and higher ranking on the search engine’s results for individual pages from your site.
The following are some other things you should be mindful of when working on internal links.
Completely Controlled by You
Unlike backlinks, your website’s internal links are completely controlled by you. The keywords used in the anchor text, pages that are linked, and the content that includes links are all at your discretion. You also have the power to change your strategy as your site grows and your goals evolve. For example, if you decide to create a new service or product, you can edit current pages or posts to link internally to the new page. Also, if you decide to stop offering a service or product, you can delete internal links to that service or product page easily within your site. It’s not that simple when it comes to backlinks.
What to Be Careful of When Internal Linking
Internal linking is great for your site, but you do have to watch out for some common mistakes that can hurt your site.
- Don’t overuse anchor text. Overusing anchor text in your internal linking can be viewed as spam, which could lower your pages’ rankings.
- When using anchor text, be sure to link to a relevant page.
- Make sure that your internal linking structure takes people to your intended destination page within three clicks.
- Do not stuff internally linked keywords anywhere on your website.
- Don’t overuse internal links on your pages or posts. 1-2 internal links per 500 words is ideal when placing them within your content. The limit for the total number of internal links per page should be below 150 if counting menu items, internal links in the sidebar, footer, image links, etc.
Start Internal Linking for a Better Website
If you haven’t been paying attention to the internal links you’ve placed on your site, you should start now. Begin with the links on your homepage. Follow each one out to make sure your user gets to the destination in less than three clicks. You can then browse your site to see if there are any links that could confuse your users by taking them to non-relevant pages. As you work your way through the site, you will likely find some links that need to be deleted or changed. The good news is once you clean up the current link structure, you can move forward with a plan of how you want all of your pages linked. This will make adding new pages easy.