Strategic internal linking is an SEO method powerhouse. It’s one of the most straightforward and easiest ways to begin SEO for your website. Internal linking in blog or article writing is an SEO strategy that you can do regularly that can boost your rank and improve your audience count.
In fact, 51% of marketers say that they notice a positive difference when they begin general SEO link-building strategies within only a few months of taking advantage of internal linking in content.
Not only is internal linking strategy a great digital marketing tip for SERPs, but you can use internal links to help users navigate your site and spread link equity from page to page.
The rest of this guide will teach you everything you need to know about internal linking structure, why it works, and how you can use it to optimize and boost your ranking in search engines. Let’s go!
What Is The Difference Between External Links and Internal Links?
Internal linking happens when web pages link to another URL on the same website. That can include your homepage or any other important page that is linked back to your website.
External links point to a page on a completely different website. For example, if there’s a link in a blog on The HOTH website that links to a page on BuzzFeed, that would be an external link.
What Are The Different Types of Links?
There are many different types of internal links and there are many types of links that do different things for your SEO strategy.
Internal linking has three main purposes:
- Website navigation
- Defines the hierarchy of a website
- Distributes page ranking power throughout a website
This section will explore the different types and explain why you need them and what they do for your website.
Within your content, it can often be useful to link contextually to another page on your site. As an example, in this chapter, I might mention the importance of anchor text.
In the last sentence, you can see how I linked the phrase “anchor text” to the page about anchor text. This allows users to easily browse to that page and passes link equity to the anchor text page!
For future reference, it would be best to remember that your navigational links will help users find your content and discover what you have to offer them.
Another important tip to remember is that if you point to the same URL a few times on the same webpage, priority will be given to the first anchor text.
So, keep that in mind. Some webmasters may even resort to restricting access to navigational links for some search engine crawlers just to give more importance to contextual links.
Other types of internal linking, like a navigational menu can also be useful for SEO and for users. Navigational links are interlinked URLs that you create on your navigation bar. This makes it easier for your visitors to move from page to page.
Main navigation links help to point your audience through your content.
Structurally, this will allow you to have more links pointing your audience back to what matters. That means users can quickly find your auxiliary pages quickly and with ease.
This allows users to both easily find the page they are looking for and gives search engines cues about which target pages are the most important.
Studies suggest that over 20% of all U.S. searches actually happen on Google Images, so making sure that your image links are optimized and structured correctly for SEO is an important step in link-building management.
Here is some link building information you should be aware of:
Anchor text isn’t necessarily an internal link type; however, it’s an important aspect of link building. Descriptive anchor text is a vital part of SEO optimization. The HREF is an aspect of the anchor tag. It’s basically just there to identify sections with a document or piece of content. The URL, which is the actual link and the text that you can click appears on the page is known as the anchor text.
When internally linking, you can use your target long-tail keywords as the anchor text of the link.
This gives search engines a clue as to what the linked page is about.
Broken Internal Links
Broken internal links also aren’t technically a link type. However, it’s definitely something to watch out for. Broken links (links that don’t work) on your page, whether internal or external. If you accumulate several of these, it can harm your SEO.
Links are actually one of the top two ranking criteria that Google considers when ranking a page in the algorithm, so making sure that your links are fully optimized and not broken is an important step.
There is a WordPress plugin called Broken Link Checker you can install to monitor broken links on your site architecture.
Make sure to regularly check this plugin in case any of your links break!
How Do You Optimize Internal Links for SEO?
Here are the main factors to focus on for internal link optimization:
- Internal link anchor text
- Create as much content as possible
- Relevant links
- Deep linking
- Natural links
- Use do-follow links
Having as much new content as you possibly can on your website is a great starting point for internal linking. That means that you can link as many relevant URL’s within your website as much as you can. This boosts authority, traffic, and optimization.
Actually, “Why”, “What”, “How-to” and infographics posts received 25.8% more links compared to videos. So, creating these different types of content and internal linking them on your site is a smart move.
Deep linking is an important part of any SEO strategy. “Deep links” are basically just hyperlinks that link to a certain web page with any specific content rather than just a home page.
For example, you can link to any internal pages such as a landing page or category page. That might grow your audience or you can link to other content that’s relevant to your topic.
One common mistake beginners make is creating an internal link that doesn’t have much relevance to your content. Keeping your links related to your message is an important part of SEO link-building. Otherwise, crawlers may get confused, which can impact your rankings.
Another rookie mistake that beginners can sometimes make is hiding or burying their main link navigation in ways that search engines can’t find them or don’t have access to. That stops crawlers to be able to get to listed related pages.
A statement that was released in 2018 by John Mueller a Google Webmaster said that the fewer clicks it takes to get to a new page from your home page the absolutely better. So, maintaining a shallow click-depth and keeping your website structured in this way can boost your rank, traffic, and business.
One great SEO tip that can be easily applied to URLs and links is inserting targeted keywords. Keywords help Google and other search engines find your content.
It’s also a great way to have control over what your target audience sees. A large part of any SEO optimization is using long-tail and high-volume keywords in the best way possible to boost traffic.
How many internal links are good for SEO?
As a general guideline, it would be best to try to follow about 2-5 quality internal links for every 500-1000 words in a blog post, in addition to any other navigational internal links that already sit on your landing pages.
Google and other search engines don’t exactly give a straight answer or guideline to what the best number of internal links for a website is.
However, Google has said that they have their crawlers search hundreds of links per page. With said, don’t overstuff links onto a landing page. This can lag your website, which isn’t great for user experience or SEO optimization.
Common internal link problems
During your SEO internal link optimization journey, you may come across a few internal linking problems that can alter your website and leave your rankings low. Luckily, I’ve put together a list of some issues you may run into and how to fix them.
Here are a few common problems that can occur:
- Links can’t be crawled
- Too many links on one page
- Your nofollow is on
- Orphan pages
- Page crawl depth
- Pages with only one internal link
- Permanente redirects
Besides a broken link which I’ve already mentioned, you may come across the problem of not being able to get crawled by search engines. The best way to fix this is by checking the links reported as errors and fixing your formatting issues.
When a page contains more than 3,000 links it might get flagged. There is really no “best” on-page link number but it’s a good idea to be mindful of link stuffing your pages. The best way to fix this is by doing a site audit and removing links as needed.
Nofollow is fairly simple, your attribute in your links on certain pages is being restricted by Googlebot‘s flow. The best way to fix this would be to remove the rel=”nofollow” from any link that is flagged by your audit.
An orphaned page is one that isn’t linked to any other page on your website. It means that it can’t be accessed by a crawl therefore it can’t be indexed by search engines. A good fix for this is just to remove the link or add a noindex tag.
Some vital pages just have too many clicks for visitors to reach. This means that search engines think they aren’t important. The best way to fix this issue is to work out where you can lose clicks, and think about easier ways for your audience to reach your content faster.
Just like having pages with too many links, you can have pages that don’t have enough links. That can cause missed opportunities and sales, the best way to fix this would be to add relevant links to your content.
Why Are Internal Links Important?
Internal links are essential for SEO, so Google and other search engine algorithms can rank your website where it deserves to be placed.
By providing Google with the best hyperlinks to follow along with your anchor text, you can tell Google which pages on your website are important and relevant to search intent. Internal links also boost user experience and improve engagement with your audience.
Internal linking is important for any website because it helps demonstrate site architecture and distributed “link juice.”
Internal link building has some really great advantages because it helps build authority, usability, and make connections between pages. It boosts user experience, and if you’re lucky, it will boost your rankings.
Another great reason to prioritize internal linking is that it keeps your audience on your website. If you give users a chance to explore more of your content with ease, then you are more likely to decrease bounce rates, which help your SEO.
Speaking of conversion, click-through (CTR) rates can also be boosted with internal linking strategies. Some ideas would be to have a clickable banner that sends your visitors to a sign-up page.
If you choose to use links that are relevant and optimized, you can improve your SEO expectations in a big way.
Internal linking is one of the ranking factors that you can actually control as a business owner or webmaster. You can guide your visitors and Google to your most important content. There are many different tools you can use to improve your linking such as The HOTH SEO checker tool or Google Search Console.
It’s also important to understand the relationship between content, metrics, and the way Google divides link value. The homepage of a site has the best chances of gaining value because it has the most backlinks. That link value will be split between all of the links found on your homepage.
What is Link Equity and Why is It Important?
Link equity or often called “link juice” is a search engine ranking factor. It is based on the concept that certain links are more valuable or have high authority from one page to another page.
This link value is based on a number of different factors like page authority, relevancy, HTTP status, and a lot more. Links have to pass equity and much of that has to do with signals that Google and other search engines like Bing use to determine a website or page’s ranking in SERPs.
PageRank was one of Google’s first algorithmic calculation factors that were used to determine how a site ranks. It was based on the site’s backlinks. PageRank is still used today; however, there are now hundreds of ranking factors that Google tracks to be able to find the best, most relevant content and information for its users.
Link equity can be understood as the flow of a page’s ranking power and how it’s passed from one link to another. For example, if an authoritative page includes a followed link to a small website’s blog post, Google sees that as a vote of confidence and will give that smaller website more authority via the followed link.
Here is how link equity is determined:
If you’re linking to a page about off-road bikes, from an article about cookies the link isn’t relevant and Google will know that. Irrelevant links won’t give your page authority or much value.
Linking site authority
Link from any trusted website that can build up its authority to pass more link equity than links from new websites that are just starting can be a great way to optimize your URLs. Actually, about 65% of marketers measure their link quality by looking at how they rank based on their domain authority.
No-followed links are a signal to crawlers that they should definitely be ignored. These nofollow tag links won’t have any equity. However, just because a link isn’t followed, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hold any value.
If a page blocks crawlers with Robots.txt files, then the crawler is then told to ignore it. That can be good for pages that aren’t important. However, if you want your link such as a product page link to be seen by a relevant audience then it needs to be shown to Google that it holds value.
You can also check your crawl budget on your website host to make sure you are using the max amount of your budget. This will make crawlers index your pages much faster. It’s also common for any e-commerce theme to have this setting already equipped; however, double-checking is always a good idea.
Just as a quick tip, links that are buried in the footer of a page aren’t as valued as links in the body of a page’s content. The website’s architecture helps Google decide what content is the most useful to visitors.
If the link to your website is one of the hundreds on a page, it may not be as valuable as it would be with a smaller count. Although, there’s no exact recommendation number of links on a page.
If your link is lost due to too many other links, it’s not very likely that a member of your audience will click it.
HTTP status of a linked page
As a rule of thumb, pages that resolve as 200s or permanent 201 redirects will keep their link equity. Google has stated that all redirections even including temporary 302s, will pass PageRank.
With that being said, it’s probably best to take that will a grain of salt. Other search engines may not treat them all the same. There are just so many factors beyond linking to take into account when planning ranking strategy; however, it’s still good information to keep into consideration.
Internal Links Pass Authority
The best internal linking strategy lets you pass authority between web pages on your site. As mentioned, this is a sure way to improve rankings.
This process is determined by PageRank, which looks over the quality and relevancy of individual pages and gives them value. Internal linking is a major factor that is taken into account.
As I stated, PageRank isn’t as important as it once was. However, it still is a part of the ranking system that Google uses. By understanding the process, you can learn how to get your website to rank in your desired niche.
If one page on your website has authoritative external links pointing to it, then you have a PageRank score. This authority can then be given to another page on your website via internal links. See how that works? It’s a great way to help your website gain domain authority without every page ranking.
Final Note on Internal Links
Internal linking is a fast, easy way to improve your search engine ranking and your website’s traffic. It’s one of the main aspects of SEO that should be prioritized.
It can also be a little overwhelming to understand all the jargon that is thrown around in the SEO world; however, once you grasp a general understanding of it, you can start to improve the structure of your internal links.
If you don’t have the time to learn or want an expert’s advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.