A Guide to SEO Internal Linking

  ●   June 15, 2022 | SEO
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June 15, 2022 | SEO

The power of internal linking is often overlooked when, in fact, it could make or break your website success. We’ll run you through some of the key benefits of internal linking for SEO, as well as some actionable best practices for you to try on your website to improve user experience and boost rankings. 

An internal link is any link on a website that goes from one page to another, within the same domain. Internal links are useful for both users and search engines, providing easy navigation through a website, establishing a clear site architecture and spreading link equity or ‘link juice’.

Internal links are most commonly used in the main navigation or homepage, directing users to other pages on the same site. You will usually find them in the header and footer. 

The main difference between an internal link and an external link is that an internal link is a hyperlink directing users to another page on the same website, whereas an external link directs users to another website. External links can also be known as outbound links or backlinks, and are usually found in the body text of a web page. 

So, the real question is: does internal linking help SEO? In short, yes! Essentially, internal links help search engines, like Google, understand your webpages and improve your ranking potential. As such, internal links are extremely important for SEO and should be included as part of your overall marketing strategy. 

Let’s explore some of the benefits of internal links and how they can help improve your rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).

  1. Authority flows through internal links: A link from one page to another, transfers authority or credibility to that page and increases its potential to rank. Note that unlike external links, internal links do not pass domain authority. However, they do pass page authority, which can help improve your chances of ranking in the SERPs. 
  2. Internal linking improves usability: Internal links improve user experience by providing users with additional valuable content and helping them navigate through your website.
  3. Internal links boost PageRank: PageRank is a Google metric (a score from 0-10) to indicate the importance of web pages. Pages with more authority passed along from other pages will score higher.
  4. Internal links increase time on site and reduce bounce rate: Internal linking helps retain users on your website by linking to valuable content. A reduced bounce rate is an indication of good user experience and can positively influence your rankings. 
  5. Improves crawling and indexing: Building a sensical site architecture with efficient internal linking will be more easily crawled and indexed by bots. Proper indexing is important to ensure your pages are seen by search engines and have potential to rank. 

Best practices for setting up an internal linking strategy

Here are some of the best practices for getting the most value out of your internal linking strategy:

Use descriptive anchor text

Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in an HTML hyperlink. An anchor link will typically appear as underlined blue text on a webpage. It is recommended that you use descriptive text or keywords in your anchor links that give an indication of the page the hyperlink is directing to. This will improve user experience by providing context and help search engines understand your site architecture.

Link from your most authoritative pages

Links from high authority pages, pages with lots of external links (like a homepage), will pass the most link juice and authority. So, you need to make sure you link strategically from these key pages. You can find out which pages on your site have the most authority using online tools, like Moz’s Top Pages report or Google Search Console’s Top Linked Pages report. 

Optimise low hanging fruit and attain top positions

Audit your pages to see which may benefit from a slight boost. Any pages ranking on the bottom of page 1 or page 2 could benefit greatly from some internal links to amplify the authority. You can either manually check your rankings to see which pages to target by reviewing the SERPs or use a tool, like Google Search Console’s Queries report, to view your ranking positions.

Build a user-centric SEO linking strategy

When it comes to all things Google, the user should always come first. Yes, you are optimising for search engines but humans, too. That’s why it’s crucial not to force internal links but, instead, place them where it seems natural and, most importantly, useful. You want to avoid coming off as spammy, as this could have a detrimental effect on your rankings. 

There are no hard rules on how many internal links you should include on your site. Google can crawl 100s of links per page so it’s down to you to decide what provides the optimum user experience.

Leverage high traffic pages to increase conversions

Some pages may attract mass amounts of traffic, however, may not be high converting. Whereas, your conversion pages may not get enough traffic. This provides the ideal opportunity to redirect traffic to your conversion pages using internal links. In this way, you can turn site visitors into paying customers. 

Google Analytics is a fantastic tool for identifying your top performing pages for traffic and conversions, using the Landing Pages report. Note that conversion rates will only be visible if you have goals tracking set up in Google Analytics.

Achieve desired results with calls-to-action

It’s all well attracting lots of site traffic, but what are these visitors doing on your pages? They’ve read your blog, browsed your products, watched your demo video – what’s next? It’s time for them to act. Whether that’s signing up to your email newsletter, submitting a contact form or purchasing from your site, you need to tell users what you want them to do and guide them to take that next step with an appropriate call-to-action.

This could be an internal link from your blog to your product pages, your homepage to your contact or email sign-up page, for instance. Remember to use descriptive text as generic text, like ‘click here’ or ‘read more’, does not tell users what you want them to do. 

Implement contextual linking

Internal links are useful for connecting content about similar topics, which will provide more context to Google, while also offering users additional information. You can even add a related post section or use internal links to create content topic clusters. 

Link from all pages, old or new

When creating a new page, your authority starts fresh, so it’s best practice to include helpful links from older pages to transfer authority. However, it works both ways. We recommend looking back at older pages and adding in new links where appropriate.

Use dofollow links

If you want link equity to pass between pages, you need to ensure you are implementing dofollow links, as opposed to nofollow.

Regularly check for broken links

Broken links are bad for user experience and SEO. It’s important that you regularly look for and fix any broken links on your site. This usually happens if a page is moved or deleted without proper redirects in place. You can do this using online tools, such as Screaming Frog. Broken links will typically show up as a 404 error page. 

To Summarise

Internal linking could be the final boost your site needs to dominate the SERPs and outshine your competitors. The great thing about internal links is that they are completely under your control and can be a super quick win for your site. Follow our advice and you’ll be sure to see results in no time. 

If you’re looking to build a solid internal linking strategy, check out our SEO services for more information or get in touch with our SEO specialists to find out how we can help your website.

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