Internal links are hyperlinks that point from one page on your website to another page on your site. An effective internal linking strategy is super critical for SEO, as links help search engines crawl your site and understand the relevance between different pages.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about optimizing your internal links for SEO.
What is Internal Linking and Why is it Important for SEO?
Internal linking refers to links between pages on the same website. These links allow users and search engines to navigate between different pages on your site.
Here are some of the key benefits of internal linking:
Links provide a roadmap for search engine crawlers to discover new pages on your site. The better connected your internal link structure, the easier it will be for crawlers to explore your site.
Strengthens Relevance Signals
Links help search engines understand the relationship between pages. If Page A links to Page B, it’s signaling that the content on Page B is relevant to Page A.
Distributes Link Equity
Internal links pass link equity (ranking power) between pages. Linking to a page boosts its authority and keywords targeted.
Enhances User Experience
Links allow users to naturally navigate your site and delve deeper into topics of interest. An intuitive internal linking structure improves user experience.
Clearly, internal links are incredibly important for both SEO and UX. Optimizing your internal link structure should be a core part of your overall SEO strategy.
Internal Linking Best Practices and Strategies
Here are some best practices to follow when building internal links:
Use Descriptive Anchor Text
Anchor text tells users and search engines what a page is about. Use keywords where relevant, but don’t force keyword anchor text. Natural descriptive text works best.
Link to High Quality, Relevant Pages
Focus on linking to your most useful, informative content. Avoid linking to low-value pages just for the sake of adding links. Quality over quantity.
Vary Anchor Text Across Links
Diversify your anchor text across links. Don’t repeatedly use the exact same anchor text pointing to a page.
Link from Related Pages
If Page A and Page B cover closely related topics, add links between them to highlight the connection. Contextual links help search engines grasp relevancy.
Link to Category and Tag Archives
Add links from your category and tag pages to connect relevant content. For example, link to individual posts from their category archive.
Use Internal Links in Content
Naturally work internal links into your content where relevant. In-content links feel more editorial and less spammy.
Link to Related Products/Services
Ecommerce sites should link between related products, cross-sells, and upsells to enable natural browsing.
Include Links in Navigation Menus
Ensure your main site navigation has links to your most important pages. Linking in menus provides site-wide visibility.
Link from Old to New Content
When you publish a new version of an old piece of content, add a link from the old page to the new one to transfer relevance.
Check for Broken Links Regularly
Broken links frustrate users and can negatively impact SEO. Set reminders to periodically check site-wide for dead links.
Types of Internal Links to Include
There are several types of internal links you may want to include on your site:
Links in Main Navigation
Your primary site navigation with the main pages/sections on your site should be linked across all pages.
Links in Footers
Footers provide a common place on each page to link to top-level site pages, like “About Us”, “Contact”, etc.
Links in Sidebars
Sidebars enable linking to related content, category archives, popular posts, etc.
Links Within Content
In-content links help connect concepts in long articles and highlight related content.
Links Between Posts
Blog-style sites should interlink related content to enable discovery of more posts on a topic.
Page Jumps on Long Pages
On very long pages, add internal page jumps to anchor sections to facilitate easy browsing.
Links Between Product Pages
Product pages should link to related products, accessories, and media like videos and manuals.
How Many Internal Links to Include Per Page
There are varying recommendations on how many internal links to include per page. Here are some general guidelines:
- 3-5 links – Minimum for thin content pages like Contact or About Us
- 10-20 links – Good for average content pages
- 25-50+ links – Long form content and pillar pages should link more heavily
- 100-200 links – Max for very long and comprehensive guides
Aim to link out to other useful pages multiple times throughout a piece of content where it feels natural. But avoid going overboard by shoehorning in excessive links that don’t add value.
Follow a common sense approach by linking to other pages where relevant, without forcing links simply to inflate counts. Quality and contextual relevance matters more than hitting a certain number of links.
Internal Linking Structure Best Practices
Beyond adding a decent volume of internal links, you also need an intelligent internal site architecture. Here are some structural internal linking best practices:
Link Pages in a Logical Hierarchy
Pages should link in a natural hierarchy from more general content to more specific. For example, category pages link to subcategories and individual posts.
Cross Link Related Content
Pages on closely related topics should be interlinked to highlight the connection to search engines.
Use “Link Maps” on Key Pages
On important pages, consider adding a box or table with links out to related content sections to facilitate browsing.
Link to Newer Related Content
When creating content on an existing topic, add links from the old content to the new content you’ve created.
Avoid Orphan Pages
Make sure all pages are linked to from at least one other page, so every page is reachable. Don’t leave orphan pages unlinked.
Review most linked to pages
Analyze your internal link structure and identify the pages that accumulate the most internal links. Assess whether they should be the pages receiving the most internal link equity.
Consolidate competing pages
If you have multiple competing pages targeting the same keyword, consider consolidating the content into a single stronger page and redirecting competing pages to it.
By intelligently structuring your internal links and proactively maintaining your site architecture, you can maximize the impact of your internal linking strategy.
Internal Link Building Tips and Tools
Now that we’ve covered internal linking best practices, here are some tips for actively building high-quality internal links across your site:
Audit Existing Internal Links
Use a tool like Ahrefs or ScreamingFrog to crawl your site and extract a list of your existing internal links. Review the pages linking out the most and assess whether they should be passing the most authority. Identify any issues to address in your link structure.
Set Internal Link Building Goals
Define targets for the number of internal links you want added to key pages. Track progress in a spreadsheet.
Update Old Content
Revisit old existing content that attracts traffic and add internal links to newer related content you’ve published.
Create Link-Worthy Content
Publishing new posts? Make the content detailed and useful, so it deserves links from other articles.
Link Internally in New Content
When writing new posts, actively look for opportunities to work in contextual internal links to related content.
Use Internal Links in Content Upgrades
Leverage content upgrades, like templates and checklists, to link out to relevant in-depth content.
Get Visual with Link Mapping
Use visual link mapping within pages, showing how sections connect to each other via contextual links.
Ask Other Site Owners for Links
Reaching out to relevant sites for backlinks? Ask them to also add an internal link to your content if they already mention it.
Build Links to New Content Hubs
Publishing new content hubs? Ensure existing pages link to the new cornerstone content to transfer relevance.
Remove Toxic Links
Clean up low-quality or irrelevant internal links that may be diluting your internal link equity.
Fix Broken Internal Links
Find and restore any broken internal links, which hurt UX and SEO.
Leveraging tools and focusing on internal link building as an ongoing initiative can dramatically amplify your internal linking strategy.
Measuring the Impact of Internal Link Building
Internal link building takes time and effort. Here are some ways to measure whether your efforts are paying off:
Internal Link Growth
Use a crawler tool to track how many internal links you gain month-over-month. Growing your link numbers indicates a successful internal linking expansion.
Linked Page Organic Traffic
Monitor linked page rankings and organic traffic in Google Analytics. Improved performance on linked pages demonstrates internal links are conferring SEO benefits.
Target Keyword Ranks
Track target keyword ranks monthly. If you’re linking relevant anchor text to pages, it can boost keyword rankings.
Competitor Link Comparison
Analyze competitors’ sites and compare their internal link profiles using SEO tools. Assess whether you need to expand internal links further to match or exceed their quantities.
Linking Page Authority
Check Page Authority metrics on pages distributing the most internal links, using Moz or Ahrefs. Growing authority indicates the value of links.
Crawling reports will reveal indexed pages and crawl frequency. If these numbers grow, internal links are succeeding in improving crawlability.
Common Internal Linking Pitfalls to Avoid
While internal linking best practices can significantly benefit SEO, there are also some common mistakes to avoid:
Don’t link pages together unless the content is closely related. Forced unrelated links come across as spammy.
Avoid going overboard on keyword anchor text. Some relevancy is good, but too much looks unnatural.
Excessively linking Page A to Page B and Page B back to Page A again has diminishing returns.
Interlinking a closed web ring of sites is discouraged. Focus on organic links determined by relevancy.
Buying/selling internal links that pass PageRank is against Google’s guidelines. Don’t participate in artificial link schemes.
Adding ridiculous amounts of internal links on each page dilutes their value. Aim for relevant links in moderation.
Linking Low-Value Pages
Be selective about pages you link out to. Link to your best content so you amplify pages that will maximize SEO value.
Neglecting Broken Links
Failure to fix broken internal links hurts UX and SEO. Proactively maintain your links.
Keep these pitfalls in mind and focus on developing a natural, useful internal link structure that ultimately benefits your visitors.
Wrapping Up Internal Link SEO Tips
Strong internal linking should be a core piece of your overall SEO strategy. When optimized effectively, internal links can:
- Enhance crawlability so search engines easily discover new content
- Pass relevance signals between closely related pages
- Distribute authority to boost pages’ rankings
- Create intuitive navigation to help visitors easily explore your site
But be wary of over-optimization. The best internal links develop organically as part of creating useful content and site architecture.
Apply these internal linking best practices:
- Descriptive anchor text
- Contextual links between related content
- Diversity in anchor text
- Links from old to new content
- Fix broken links
- Measure success with traffic and rankings
By mastering internal linking in moderation, you can empower your visitors and search engines to better navigate your site. Contact 427 Digital today!