What is an Internal Link?
Internal links are links between pages on the same site. For example, a link from your site home page to service page or links from your site product page to similar product pages.
In short, internal links are links within the site and not pointing outside of the domain.
An internal link is a type of hyperlink on a webpage to another page or resource, such as an image or document, on the same website or domain. Hyperlinks are considered either “external” or “internal” depending on their target or destination. Generally, a link to a page outside the same domain or website is considered external, whereas one that points at another section of the same webpage or to another page of the same website or domain is considered internal.
Unlike other SEO factors, internal link has double effect on a website. Firstly, it influences user engagement metrics, including time spent on website, page views per session, and conversion rate. And secondly, internal link has significant ranking importance that can boost any site organic position in the SERPs.
Importance of Internal Linking
In SEO and Technical Side, Internal linking has four main purposes:
In website navigation, internal link help user find more pages in the site.
Internal Link Help Defines the Website Architecture and Hierarchy.
Internal Link Pass Page Authority and Ranking Power Throughout the Site.
Internal Link help search engine spider discover more pages on a site.
13 Ways to use internal links to improve your site rankings
1. Create Lots of Content.
In order to create internal links, you have to have lots of pages and posts. The first step is maintain a internal linking strategy is to have a killer content marketing strategy. You can’t have one without the other.
When you create lots of content, you’ll have lots of content for Internal Linking. The more links to Pages and Posts, the better your internal linking strategy will be.
Some internal linking strategies propose extremely complex layers of pages, silos of content, and a mathematically-balanced formula for number of links to levels of pages. I say it doesn’t really matter. Internal linking doesn’t require organizational spreadsheets and trigonometric derivative charts.
An internal linking strategy with lots of content looks less like an org chart, and more like this:
There are no “cycles.” There are no “silos.” There are no “tiers.” There are no structured flow diagrams. There’s just plenty of happy links going to helpful places.
2. Use Relevant keywords in the anchor text.
In keeping with the your website content theme, your internal links should only use anchor text – not images or any other media files. Image links are fine, provided that images are not the main source of links, and assuming the image is properly alt-tagged.
The use of anchor text for internal linking might not look natural. So, don’t use optimized anchors. Just use natural, un-optimized sentence fragments as anchor text, and you’ll do just fine. No cute tricks. No overthinking it. Just highlight the text, link it, and done.
3. Link deep.
The deeper your links go, the better. There are two types of internal links you should avoid:
Homepage. Most sites have too many links to the homepage as it is. You would rather strengthen internal pages to boost the overall SEO of your site, rather than simply point more links at the homepage.
Contact us. This is a common mistake of many who are starting out in content marketing. As part of their obligatory call to action at the end of a post, they may write something like, “Give us a call to find out more about our awesome services!” Then, they link to the “contact us” page using the anchor “give us a call.” Don’t link to the contact us page unless absolutely necessary.
In Essence, you should avoid links to the top level pages on a site — pages to which the main navigation menu already has links.
The Best links and the most natural links in a content marketing strategy are deep within the structure of a site.
4. Use links that are natural for the reader.
Internal linking requires a user-focused approach to adding value and information. The link value that gets distributed throughout the site is secondary to this key point providing value to the site visitor.
One of the corollary benefits of internal linking is that it improves user engagement on your site. When a user sees an informative link that truly matches the context of the content, they are likely to click on that link. It can be an external link, as long as it’s something that the reader will be interested in. If that link is an internal one, the site visitor stays longer and becomes more involved in your website experience.
When you link in your content you’re telling the search engine that the target of your link is so relevant and important that you want your visitor to simply be able to click a link and go straight there. Basically, that what you’re linking to is potentially so relevant that the visitor may want to stop what they’re reading and go to the next page.
Content links are a strong signal to both the search engine and the user that the content you’re linking to is really good. Readers want that. Thus, internal linking is helping the reader. But you’re also helping your SEO.
5. Create Only When Relevant.
Internal linking, as I’ve made clear, is less rigorous and scientific than some might think. But you still have to be intentional. Don’t merely link for the sake of linking. Instead, link to content that is relevant to the source context.
In other words, let’s say I have a page on my site about dog food. And, I have a page on my site about the nesting habits of parakeets.
Should I link the two pages?
There is not a strong connection between dog food and parakeet nests, especially on a superficial level. These two pages probably won’t provide mutual enhancement from internal cross-linking.
But, if I have a page on parakeet food, then it might make a great internal link for my parakeet nest article. Chances are, information about “parakeets” is going to be on both of the pages. Because of this content overlap, the link is relevant.
As much as possible, link to relevant content in your internal linking.
6. Use do-follow links.
Do-Follow links are the best way to build out the internal link architecture of your content marketing.
One theoretical internal linking strategy of the past was to no-follow most of the links on a page, in order to increase the link juice to a single page. This type of pagerank sculpting doesn’t work as an SEO strategy.
Back in 2005, the search engines came up with the no-follow, known by the attribute rel=nofollow. The idea behind no-follow was that the link “should not influence the link target’s ranking in the search engine’s index.” As Wikipedia stated, such links would “reduce the effectiveness of certain types of internet advertising because their search algorithm depends heavily on the number of links to a website.”
Despite the uproar and confusion in the wake of the no-follow link, most people now agree that it’s a good idea. As Danny Sullivan explained, no-follow links can help sites “avoid problems with search engines believing they are selling influence or are somehow involved in schemes deemed as unacceptable SEO practices.”
In spite of its value, however, using no-follow links is not a strategy you should be using as part of your internal content links. The link value needs to flow freely to and from internal pages, rather than get stopped up by a no-follow. Keep things free and fluid.
7. Use a reasonable number of internal links.
You don’t need tons of links in your internal content. Google’s instructions are simple: “Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number.”
What the Heck is a Reasonable Number?
Answer is Simple Nobody Really Knows.
Smart people have tried to answer the question, but not even Matt Cutts has provided a definitive statement. He wrote, “It seemed about right to recommend 100 links or so,” and “in some cases, it might make sense to have more than a hundred links.”
So, should you go for 100 links? Maybe, but that 100-total links includes all the links on a page — footers, headers, nav bars, ads, everything. 100 links isn’t as hard as it sounds, once you calculate the total number of HREFs on an entire page.
When it comes to internal linking, I suggest around three to four, depending on the length of your post. I usually write articles that exceed 1,500 words, and I don’t have a link-heavy navigation bar. So, I wouldn’t feel bad about throwing in ten or twenty internal links if I needed to.
There’s no magic number. There is however, the all-important user. Add as many links as would be helpful for the user.
8. Make sure all the important pages are linked.
These days, search engines rely both on sitemaps and links to discover web pages. It means that even unlinked or the so-called ‘orphan’ pages can be found by the search engines as these pages are listed in the sitemap.
But it’s impossible to find ‘orphan’ pages through the website’s navigation. Such pages virtually don’t exist for the users. It’s a good idea to get rid of orphan pages; you can either delete them (if they are useless) or link them from other pages of the website.
Landing pages that are created for pay-per-click campaigns are an exception. They often act as independent website areas that are not linked from the main website’s content and are normally blocked from indexation.
9. Make sure image links have alt attributes.
The alt attribute of image links acts like anchor text for text links — so it’s another opportunity to send a ranking signal to search engines.
So, Make sure image links have alt attributes.
10. Mind duplicate links to the same URL.
If there are several links on the same page that point to the same URL, search engines would give the priority to the first anchor text.
Keep this in mind and use the right keywords in the first link’s anchor: subsequent anchors won’t matter as much.
11. Place links within pages’ main content.
The links placed within a page’s content have a higher SEO value than the ones in the header, footer, or sidebar. The latter have more to do with navigation, and it looks like Google treats those as non-editorial links.
Links in the main content, on the other hand, add new information and value to the text. Furthermore, the text and keywords surrounding a link also matter for the ranking of the target page.
On the contrary, if you force links with additional information to open in a new tab, it’s easier to go back to the original piece of content.
In order to force browser to open a link in a new tab, add a ‘target’ attribute to the link in HTML:
However, remember to avoid this tactic when you channel users through a conversion funnel. In this case, links should be opening in the same tab.
12. Point links from traffic pages to conversion pages.
Many companies run a blog to create “engaging and useful content”. Some of them achieve the goal, and their posts attract significant traffic. The problem is that a blog post can rarely boast a high conversion rate.
Why not channel users from high-traffic blog posts to landing pages that are specifically optimized for conversion?
13. Keep it Natural.
This strategy implies that you don’t care about the number of internal links, their anchors, or any SEO tricks. You just follow common sense and create links to the content that may be helpful to your users; as simple and elegant as that.
In practice, it means that you should only keep in mind the internal linking best practices that I mentioned in this post.