Internal Linking SEO

Internal Linking SEO Best Practices

Table of Contents

Internal linking is the process of linking one page to the next under the same website domain.

A website is filled with links. Links are used to navigate, to reference, and to assist users with additional information or help them pursue a specific call to action. They connect your content together and form a structure for your website.

Normally, when discussing links and SEO, it is external linking we are discussing. This is when another website is linking to yours. However, internal links also have a strong role to play in search engine optimization and best practices in web design as well.

Why internal links are important for SEO has all to do with the structure and hierachy it establishes. Links establish to Google and other search engines what the most important pages are, what pages have the most link value, and what pages have less value.

An in-depth internal linking optimization strategy can help you rank new pages fast and ensure older pages are still holding value.

How Does Internal Linking Work?

Internal links are how pages are found on a website. If there is no link to the page, unless a user or search engine crawler knows the exact URL to put in, they will never be able to find that specific page.

Internal linking is integral to website structure. There are many different types of internal linking. There are links on the home page, links in the navigation menu to help a user to specific main pages, and links in the footer.

You also have contextual links inside a website’s content. These point users to interesting, related content. It’s those contextual links that are most important to your SEO as they signify to search engines what’s important pages worth referencing.

The more links a page receives, the more important it seems to search engines – internal and external links both.

Therefore, a website has to decide which pages are essential or high-value and ensure their internal linking structure best represents that.

How To Use Internal Linking As Your Website Grows

Think of internal linking as a strategy to let Google crawlers know which pages on your site deserve the best ranking.

You may have multiple pages circulating around the same topic or a similar topic. A lot of websites create content clusters like this and they use internal linking to direct crawlers as to what the most authoritative page is on a given subject.

Another way to use internal linking beyond assigning authority is to elevate new pages you create by assigning links to them on other pages that are already ranking well. Boost new pages and old pages at the same time purely on internal linking.

Unlike external links, you control all of your internal links. At any time, internal links can be added, deleted, altered, or moved.

As your site grows, it’s not uncommon to see orphaned content, aka pages that have no internal links pointing to them. This creates a situation where these pages are seen as less important, are more difficult to find without any context clues, and may result in difficulty getting them indexed no matter the quality of the content.

Even with sitemaps that list URLs, internal links are the best way for orphaned content to get ranked.

Use Internal Linking As Your Website Grows
Use Internal Linking As Your Website Grows

How To Create An Internal Linking Strategy For SEO

Analyze your content pages based on their relevance, the relationship between pages, and the value of each page.

Determine Your Website Content Structure

You may already have a content structure, i.e. categories to divide up content by. While this is a solid start, go deeper and create subcategories or content clusters around which specific pages can be associated with a topic.

Identify Your Most Important Content With Cause

For each content cluster, you should have one piece of content that is far and away the most important. Let’s call these pages your cornerstone content.

A page with cornerstone content will form the core of the topic and is what you will want a user landing on when they search for a specific term, rather than one of the other pages in your content cluster which may hold less general value and be more specific.

Link to your cornerstone content in every piece of content in the cluster.

Reinforce New Pages With Internal Linking

When you add new pages to your content clusters, ensure that they are not made to be orphaned pages.

Reinforce newly published posts with internal links that demonstrate to search engines how important these new pages are. This is smart SEO so long as what’s linking to these new pages is relevant or of a similar topic. Don’t simply set up links from random posts or pages on your site.

If you regularly publish new content, this can be a time-consuming task but it’s worth it to improve your SEO.

Add Internal Links To Your Most Popular Posts

Have a look at your analytics. Some posts may be exceedingly popular. Add more internal links to those whenever possible.

As the page value rises so does the link value and you can pass that boost on to other pages potentially.

It does not hurt to do some historical SEO and revisit old pages and older blog posts, and look for internal link opportunities here.

Add ‘Related Posts’ For Automated Internal Linking

Not all internal linking needs to be done manually. Automate it with a plug-in, module, or widget for related posts.

As a user reads one page, they will be recommended similar posts. This can be done on the sidebar of an article or towards the bottom of the page.

Ensure None Of Your Internal Links Are Broken

You do not want broken links on your site. Ensure your internal links are correctly formatted and are linking correctly.

Furthermore, if you undergo widespread changes on your site where categories or URLs are modified, affecting the URLs of pages involved in internal linking, this could lead to a lot of broken links that require repair.

For this reason, you may occasionally want to audit your site’s links to confirm that broken links can be altered to URLs that work.

Broken Internal Links
Broken Internal Links

Be Careful Not To Over-Optimize Your Internal Linking SEO

As with any SEO strategy, it is possible to over-optimize internal linking and when you do, you can be penalized for it by search engines.

How many internal links to add per page varies on the word count. All important pages should have 3-4 internal links on average. That said, this varies depending on if it’s long-form or short-form content. There are no real rules so long as it doesn’t come across as unnecessary and forced.

In terms of how many internal links should point to a single page, you also don’t want to overdo this. For the average website, in terms of contextual linking, the optimal number of links directing users back to a page should be around 20.

As your site grows, this number may grow but as a starting point, aim for 20 contextual links per main content page.

When designing content, ensure the links you add are relevant and in line with your internal link building strategy. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t add the link.

Furthermore, ensure the anchor text is short, simple, and clickable. Don’t make keyword stuff your anchor text thinking that it’s an optimization strategy. A search engine will see that and disregard it. Anchor text should come across as natural and not overly keyword-heavy.

Be sure not to use the same keyword in every link’s anchor text as this is not best practice and won’t be of benefit.

All The Way Up Media Can Optimize Your Internal Linking & Boost Your SEO

We don’t waste time. When you hire our SEO experts, the first thing they will do is audit your website to identify opportunities they can jump on right away.

Internal links are included in what we look at from the beginning – they’re that important.

Search engines like Google and others have crawlers that scan every corner of the web on a regular basis. Internal linking notifies these crawlers how to read your site and helps to establish the hierachy on which search engines are going to rank your content. This is power you have over how search engines are to comprehend your site.

A website that is not engaging in thoughtful internal linking or not using very many contextual internal links is potentially giving away a lot in terms of potential leads, potential high search engine rank, and free advertising on search engines.

Internal links are one of several SEO best practices that are worth paying attention to and prioritizing.

If you notice your website has recently experienced a drop-off in traffic, has seen a rise in bounce rate on certain pages, or is no longer converting leads at the same rate, consider why. We at All The Way Up Media can help.

Strategically placed internal links work. They will help you achieve your SEO goals. They’re good for your users, too.

The team at All The Way Up Media will utilize various internal linking strategies to elevate your website’s SEO. If you’re in need of an advanced, results-driven SEO strategy, let us put together a campaign for you that improves the rank of your website. Reach out today.

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