The easiest way for users and Google to find your latest posts and pages is by adding internal links. You can’t publish and pray that the search engines find it. So, are internal links good for SEO? Yes, they are uber important.
Internal links can nudge the search engines to what are the most important pages, and those that aren’t. The right internal link strategy can result in an SEO boost. And unlike backlinks, which can take ages to build and you can’t control them, you can decide what happens on your website.
Thankfully, it’s easy to learn how to build internal links and put the right strategy in place.
What are internal links?
Let’s start with the basics. An internal link is any link from one page on your website to another page on your website. Think of them as a way to easily direct visitors to keep reading more of your content.
Internal links make it easy for users to find content on your website. Search engines use them to find new pages, which they then index and rank. If a page has no internal links pointing to it, it’ll be hard to find by both users and search engines. We call such pages orphans.
You probably have a load of internal links on your website without realizing it. If you have a top navigation menu, you have some internal links. Some web designers will put internal links in the footer to make it easy to find key pages and posts.
Another type of internal link you’ll likely have is contextual links. These are links within your content. Typically, contextual links point the visitor to related and interesting content. They also help search engines decide what content is more important.
The more links a page receives, the more important it will seem to search engines. So, having internal links and a strategy is crucial to your SEO.
How are they different to external links?
It’s easy to think of internal links as keeping a visitor on your website for longer. An external link sends them away from your website.
Say you have a location page that helps visitors find your address. You might have an internal link to the contact us page as they might have a question or two before setting off. You also might have an external link to Google Maps to help visitors plan how they’ll get to your business.
These link types happen on your page and are different from backlinks. A backlink is a link from another website that points to yours. We’re not going to cover backlinks, but we have a few posts that cover the topic.
What makes Internal links so important?
I talk to clients about making their website sticky. What I mean is focus on keeping visitors on there for as long as possible. The longer a visitor sticks around, the more likely they will convert into a customer.
Internal links are a great way to increase stickiness as you’re directing or nudging your visitor to another piece of content. Imagine if every visitor read 4 or 5 pages rather than a single post, you’ll see a massive improvement in how profitable your business is.
Search engines use internal links to find new pieces of content as they start by crawling pages they already have in their index to see if they have changed. So, if you want to rank more pages, you’ll want to increase the likelihood that your existing pages will by creating internal links.
As your homepage probably has the most backlinks and internal links pointing to it, it will have the greatest link value. Adding a link to your new blog post from the homepage will be far more powerful than from a blog category page, resulting in that page ranking faster.
Google does use a link quality score to determine how valuable a link is. So you can’t just add 100 new internal links to a page and hope it ranks. They have relevant and well-placed links. Otherwise, Google will ignore them or penalize you.
Creating an internal linking strategy that boosts rankings
Many webmasters don’t have a clue about the number of internal links each page has or if they use the keyword in the anchor text. Both are critical to boosting how the search engines still your website.
By adding internal links, you ensure Google can understand the context of a page, the relationship to other pages on your website, and the value of a page.
But you can’t just go around adding any old internal link, you need some guidelines and a plan. Most businesses can use the three basic steps below to dramatically boost their SEO efforts.
#1 Decide what pages should have internal links and what shouldn’t
Not every page should/will rank. So, it is worth prioritizing those that deserve to rank. Very few people will search for your contact page, but they might Google a basic question that you have a “how to” article that answers their query.
So having links to your contact page in the menu will be sufficient. You should add as many relevant internal links to the how to article as possible.
In a hub and spoke content model, you have a pillar post that provides a topic outline. Underneath sits several posts (spokes) that each explores a different aspect of this topic. So, you’ll want to ensure each sub-topic post links back to the pillar post (hub).
#2 Add contextual links
After deciding what pages are important, you can start linking them together. Google will begin to understand that these articles are topically related. Your visitors will know their next step to discover more about that topic.
Depending on your house style, you can either, link the text directly or add links at the end of your post. Pick one option and stick with it.
If you’re using a hub and spoke approach, you’ll want to add a link to the hub post from every spoke article. Also, you’ll want to link back from the hub to the individual posts.
#3 Watch your anchor text
As you’re trying to be more thoughtful in your approach to building internal links, you can’t afford to be sloppy. You want to add natural, relevant-looking internal links. So you need to pay attention to the text you use for the link. We call this the anchor text.
You can select some random words for the anchor text, or you can try to use the keyword of the page you’re linking to. You shouldn’t always use part or the full keyword as the link’s text as this can lead to over-optimization, which is a big no in the eyes of the search engines.
It’s safe to use your keyword in the anchor text around 80% of the time, with the other 20% using generic words.
#4 Track internal links and anchor text
A way to track your process and ensure you’re not creating too many internal links to the wrong place is to track how many internal links point to a page and if they use the keyword in the anchor text.
You don’t need to track every anchor text, just the number that have part or all of the keyword in them.
Should I Nofollow links I don’t want Google to follow them?
So before you think you can trick Google by nofollowing a bunch of links that point to a low-value page to increase the rankings of more important pages, they already have ways to discover that you’re doing this. If you get caught, you could get a manual penalty.
By using a noindex tag, you inform Google that it shouldn’t render the page or include it in the Google index to show up in the search results. It’s much easier to add a noindex tag than update a load of internal links.
Are internal links good for SEO?
For your website to rank, you need internal links and backlinks. Thankfully, it’s easy to create a solid internal linking plan and strategy.
The result is a meaningful SEO boost as Google understands your website better and can find new pages easily. Also, visitors who stay on your website longer.
To sell more products, you need visitors who spend at least 3 minutes on your website, and a well-executed internal link strategy can help you achieve this goal. So, Are internal links good for SEO? 100% Yes!
Last month Izabela saw her search traffic from Google increase by 400% using 3 SEO tips we taught her.
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