The SEO Guide to Internal Linking
Internal Linking is an important and an integral aspect of the SEO process and understanding internal linking is very important as it can either make or break your SEO.
One of my favorite songs by Bob Dylan is, “ The times they are a changin”. The reason why I love this song is because of its evergreen relevance. At any given time, it seems to be truer than ever. When I joined the digital marketing industry almost a decade ago, SEO was really like considered to be a mysterious form of art that deals with the unknown, experts fixing things unseen, like wizards behind the curtain. And it really seems fictitious and unreal that how SEO has come a long way and online marketing today is not what it once really was. Time has brought around with it many changes and today; SEO is about understanding your website, your branding as well as knowing your audience expectations. Rankings are now a collective coefficient of everything that you are doing, from your blog posts to your link building to your social media outreach.
Nevertheless; the reason why SEO is still called the “Mystic Art” is because it requires your ability to tap the hidden opportunities and take subtle things to your advantage as in SEO, small things can make a big difference. For instance, let's talk about internal linking. If you are one of those trying to rank a blog or an ecommerce website, I am quite certain that internal linking might be on the bottom of your list whereas; some people are even completely ignorant to it.
Like I said, SEO is a sum of everything. Internal Linking is an important and an integral aspect of the SEO process and understanding internal linking is very important as it can either make or break your SEO. This means that you cannot afford to overlook internal linking and learn how to incorporate it.
What is Internal Linking?
Internal linking is the practice of including links on your website that point form one URL to another. An internal link works as a liaison that connects one piece of content to the other on the same domain. The apparent purpose of internal links is to direct users towards relevant content placed on any other page on the website that may even lead them towards a conversion. In addition; internal links are attributed to a kind of “link juice” as they tell search engines that certain pieces of content are more important to you.
Here are some of the SEO benefits of internal linking;
- Internal linking can considerably improve a website’s usability through anchor texts. Using proper and user-friendly links in your articles can ease your user’s navigation.
- Internal linking can also boost page views. If the content you are providing through internal linking is relevant to your audience interest, they are very likely to read further articles. This can help to increase your sites conversion rate.
- Internal linking improves PageRank. Google has developed a set of metrics to gauge the importance of web pages based on how many backlinks a webpage receives.
- Internal linking helps in improving time on site thus reducing bounce rates. You can make visitors stay longer on your site longer if the content you are internally linking to offer something of significant value.
Now that we have discussed the benefits of internal linking let’s move to optimizing them. Internal linking goals cannot be achieved without following guidelines.
1. Create a Logical Structure
In order to create an effective and in-depth internal linking network, you need to create a relevant internal linking structure. Start by Organizing your website into categories and subcategories. Make sure you are following a logical structure based on how a person would progress through each page. Link relevant pages that make your site easily navigable. This will not only make search engine understand that in what order pages are linked to rank them for specific keywords but will also make your site more easily navigable. It is search engine and user friendly as visitors can find the information they need quickly and effectively.
Also, make sure that you have enough pages on the website. If you have limited pages, you won't be able to do internal linking effectively as you won't be able to create many links. Which is why, content marketing strategy is considered to be one of the core foundations of a healthy internal link structure.
2. Find and Fix Orphan Pages
Orphan pages are referred to the pages on your website that are not linked by any other pages at all. As the name suggests, orphan pages get ignored by the search engines as the URL’s will more than likely not be found by web crawlers such as Googlebot, or at least massively de-prioritized.
Orphan pages might not harm your search engine rankings but you would obviously want to gain something from the content. Use internal linking to pass juice to such pages. This will ensure a better distribution of link equity across the website as well as a better user experience. Thankfully there are number of tools such as Screaming Frog SEO Spider to find an orphan page and link it from the relevant pages. Also, make sure that the new page is added to your HTML sitemap and XML sitemap.
3. Link Form the Home Page
The homepage on any website is usually of the highest authority and is the most linked page on a website, therefore it must be the prime target for tapping equity. Anything you link internally from the home page gives the vote of confidence and an authority signal to the search engines that your organization places high value on those pages.
As we have discussed earlier, SEO is now more about user-friendliness. Linking deep pages from the home page is also beneficial from the user experience standpoint as it directs users to other pages with relevant and useful information on your site.
4. Use Resourceful Anchor Text
Anchor text placed within content has a substantial SEO value which is why you must use long and descriptive keywords in the anchor text that give the sense of topic or keywords the source page is trying to target. Moreover, they also help to establish information hierarchy for the website. You need to use a good keyword research tool to find the relevant keywords.
Here are some of the best practices.
- Must contain resourceful words that accurately describe what the target page is about.
- It must look natural within the content of the page.
- You can use a variety of keywords in anchor text, though it must be succinct and relevant to the target page such as brand name, title tags from the target page, naked URLs, long-tail keyphrases, and LSI keywords or synonyms.
- Don't use a single phrase in anchor text over and over; search engines might penalize you for this.
5. Use the Power of Your Blog
There is no better resource to spread link equity across your website then your blog, particularly if your blog has high authority. Almost all major blog platforms offer internal linking plugins to help you identify pages with relevant content that you can link to your blog and leverage it to internally link to the product, category or service pages on your main website.
It is also a good practice to periodically update your blog and keep adding fresh content to it. Moreover, search engines love fresh content, so it's wise to link from new pages to old ones and insert new internal links to recently created content. This will not only possibly improve the ranking of your old content, but will also pass a ranking value to the new content.
6. Keep Creating New Content
Like I mentioned above, search engines love fresh content. In order to utilize the full potential of internal linking, you must keep creating new internal pages on your website as well as regularly update the content on all pages to ensure a stable and efficient internal linking structure.
Producing fresh and useful content regularly creates an opportunity for inserting natural internal links. Moreover, it helps to improve the authority of your site and eventually the authority of your pages will also improve over time.
It may sound odd to you, but without improving your internal linking structure you won't be able to achieve desired rankings in an optimal timeframe. There is no room for ignorance. I hope this post has helped you better understand the importance of internal linking and you will follow the stated actionable tips to get started. Internal linking may seem pretty hard to implement and might bring up a headache if you have thousands of pages, but it can also be a quick win and is definitely worth the struggle. It’s better to have a complete website SEO audit in order to optimize your website according to Google guidelines.