More and more companies are beginning to understand the importance of organic traffic. In fact, 70% of marketers now say that search engine optimization is a more valuable tool than PPC advertising! Well, there’s one part of the SEO strategy that often goes overlooked, and that is internal links. Well, we can help you with that. Let’s talk about internal linking in SEO and how you can use it to your advantage!
Table of Contents
What is Internal Linking In SEO?
Internal links are the links on a website’s content that bring you to another page within the same website. When you are reading blog content, you often see blue text within the content that serves as a hyperlink and will bring you a different page if you click on it.
Some of these links will bring you to other websites, which are called external links. Internal links serve as an easy way for businesses and blogs to direct users to different pages on their websites in order to make more conversions, gain more readers, or achieve another goal.
However, that isn’t all that internal links do. In fact, they play an important role in SEO value.
Why Does a Site Need Internal Links?
Google, and other search engines, need to be able to index your site in order to rank it for SEO. In order to index your site, crawlers need to be able to navigate through your site (as do users). Basically, internal links help Google index your site faster, which boosts your site’s overall SEO value.
Remember that SEO and user experience go hand-in-hand. These algorithms are designed to ensure that a user is matched with the highest-quality content. This means that viewing all aspects of your SEO strategy, including internal links, through the eye of a user (and not search engine crawlers), is the best way to gauge your site’s SEO value.
What Are Some Types of Internal Links?
Most internal links (and external links) will be in the form of a button, navigation menu, or hyperlink.
A button has a word on it and users will click on it to be brought somewhere else. It could say “Learn more”, “Click here”, “Download”, or plenty of other concise phrases.
A navigation menu is usually at the top and bottom of a web page, offering direct links in the form of buttons or hyperlinks that say things like “About Us”, “Our Services”, or “Contact Us”.
A hyperlink is often within the text of blog content. On most websites, these will appear as blue text that could say any word or phrase, usually no more than 6 words in length. All of these have their uses in different situations, and you should be incorporating all of them into your strategy.
Internal Linking Best Practices
With any part of your SEO strategy, there are best practices to follow for the best results. Internal linking is no exception. In fact, there are a lot of ways to mess up your internal linking strategy, so follow these tips to prevent any damage to your site’s SEO value.
1. Consider Where You Are Linking To
It’s important to understand where the link is directing users. Is it a site that contains up-to-date and relevant information? Is it truly adding value to your new content? There are a couple of important questions to ask.
If you are writing an article about internal linking, for example, it would be a strange turn to add an internal link to an article about social media marketing. Sure, they are both aspects of digital marketing, but it wouldn’t add much value to the topic at hand.
This will only confuse search engine crawlers and potentially harm the trust of your page or website. Make sure that each link is offering value in one way or another.
Also, it’s important to consider the content of the page where you are directing users when deciding how to incorporate it into your content naturally, and what the appropriate anchor text will be.
If you do find that you have several internal links to old, outdated content, consider either abandoning those links or going back and updating old content.
2. How To Write Proper Anchor Texts
Anchor texts should be clear, concise, and letting the user know what to expect about the article they are clicking on. For example, an external link with the anchor text “90% of startups fail” would be really bad if you clicked on it and used CTRL+F to find that no such instance of that statistic exists on the page.
That goes double for a link to a page on your own site. If your anchor text is telling the user a statistic, offering them more content to read, or prompting them to make a conversion, they should have an idea of that before they click on it, and there should be follow-through after they do.
For example, it would be very disappointing if you think you are clicking to buy a new insurance policy and you are instead redirected to another blog post about the “best insurance policies in 2021”. Give as much context as possible within your anchor text and the surrounding text.
Sticking with the insurance example, an anchor text could say “getting a new insurance policy”. Now, this could bring me to another blog post, or it could bring me to an insurance policy inquiry. The only way that you, as a reader, would know what to expect is by the context of the surrounding text, which is equally important.
If it says “Read more about getting a new insurance policy”, then you would expect a blog post. If it says “Check out some of our prices and coverage options if you’re interested in getting a new insurance policy”, then you will expect an inquiry.
Keep this in mind as you write content on your website. When you proofread your articles, look at them through the eyes of a new reader and question what you would expect of a link when you click on it, and make sure that your link matches that expectation.
3. Change Up Anchor Texts
If anchor texts are the same on a webpage, that can hurt you. Try to avoid phrases like “read more” or “click here” because if they are overused, it will hurt your SEO value. Google also relies on anchor text for the context of each link, giving crawlers a better idea of the purpose of the link.
Google may decide that this is fluff content, as Google does not care for duplicate content. However, there are exceptions to this. A directory or a carousel containing similar displays of information may have similar buttons. This won’t be a big deal. Although, you should still try to avoid duplicate content in most cases.
4. Don’t Keyword Stuff
Keyword stuffing is noticeable to Google’s algorithm in all of your content. If you overuse keywords, Google will catch on.
If you want to make it even easier for Google to dock you for keyword stuffing, you can always make it more obvious by doing it in your anchor text (please note the sarcasm).
It’s great if you use a primary or secondary keyword in your anchor text somewhere in your content, once or twice. However, if every anchor text in your content contains a keyword, especially if it uses awkward phrasing, this will not help your SEO prospects.
Even if it doesn’t show up at first, keyword stuffing could result in the “panda penalty“, which is a penalty from Google for offering low-quality content and still managing to rank higher on searches. These penalties can severely hinder your SEO strategy.
5. Don’t Add Fluff To Boost Link Count
If you’re trying to add a certain amount of internal links into your website content, don’t just do it for the sake of doing it. Google will catch on and it will actually hurt your SEO value, rather than help it.
There are many cases where it is difficult to find the right amount of links. If you’re struggling to find enough relevant links to add, don’t panic. There are places where it’s easy to throw in an extra internal link without making it seem like clickbait or fluff.
For example, the end of your article, post, or page is always a good idea. Link to your services page, contact page, or something else that is usually relevant. Also, make sure that you have internal links available on the bottom and top of your page for people to navigate as they please. That’s a good start.
From there, if you can create content that will almost uniformly be available to your posts. For example, if you’re a marketing agency, create an infographic about your marketing funnel results or a page dedicated to valuable marketing statistics. From there, this will always be in your back pocket. As a bonus, it may even help you start building backlinks!
After each article, proofread and make sure that it contains minimal fluff. There are some great ways to de-fluff your content, and you should try all of them, as Google is always seeking valuable and relevant content.
Where Do You Put Internal Links?
Now that we know why internal links are so important, as well as some of the best practices to follow, let’s talk about how to use them. Here are the best places to add internal links.
1. Navigation Menu
While these aren’t exactly the internal links we are primarily focused on, they are still important for proper indexing and navigation. Make sure that your navigation tools are easy to use and can bring users and crawlers to every necessary part of your site with ease.
Having a menu with subcategories at the top of your page is a great way to start. Just make sure you aren’t leaving out any critical pages on your site. Adding a more open menu at the bottom of your site that directs users to the most important pages is also a good idea.
This is also great for carousels. If you have a carousel on your homepage, displaying your most recent blog content, adding a “read more” or “keep reading” button on the bottom of each article description is a great idea.
2. In Blog Content
Throughout your blog articles, you should use hyperlinks to pages both on and off your site. If you don’t have a blog, you need one. They are invaluable to an SEO strategy, as they give you endless opportunities to answer users’ questions and rank on a wide variety of searches. A poor blog, or a lack of a blog, is one of the most common reasons for low traffic on a website, so it really is necessary.
Once you have one established, it’s important that every post uses hyperlinks to both external sources that you trust (stick with names you know) and that isn’t your competition. These should be used for statistics that you list, as well as other information that requires a source.
You will also want to turn an engaged reader into an enthusiastic surfer of your site by offering them more material. You can link to other blog posts that are relevant to your current one. You can also link to your services, contact page, or other website content that is relevant to the topic.
This is a great way to help users find the information, product, or service that they need, and to help search engines thoroughly index your site.
3. Landing Page Content
Internal linking is particularly important when it comes to the content of your landing page. This is because your landing page acts as the first impression for users who were driven by your various marketing campaigns, so it’s important to follow certain best practices.
Users who enter your site without organic search will likely land on one of these pages, so make sure that they have every opportunity possible to navigate through your site.
This could be to direct traffic to your online store, the products they were seeking, or more relevant information about the content of the ad. No matter what, offer your users every opportunity to find the relevant information with navigation tools, buttons, and hyperlinks.
4. Calls To Action
Your call to action (CTA) is very important when it comes to having internal linking. This is where you want to draw traffic to specific parts of your site, so use it to your advantage.
After a user reads an article of yours, you have the perfect opportunity to entice them to learn more. For example, a home insurance company may write an article about how to properly prepare for a winter storm. In the conclusion of their article, they will likely choose to wrap up with something like:
“Stay up to date with our latest home maintenance tips and reach out to find the best coverage for your home!”
In this case, the hyperlink would be on “reach out” and it would direct the user to the company’s “Contact Us” page. Another example, sticking to the same company, could be:
“Take every precaution for your home and your safety, and make sure that your insurance policy offers storm protection before the season picks up!”
In this case, the hyperlink would be on the anchor text “storm protection” to bring the user to their policy’s coverage of storm protection, or on “insurance policy” to direct the user to sign up for homeowner’s insurance. This is a simple and effective tool for turning your SEO strategy into a sales funnel.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are so many moving parts in an SEO strategy, so don’t feel bad if you have questions left over. Here are some of the most common ones that we hope will answer your most pressing questions about internal links.
Can Internal Links Help Build Backlinks?
Sure! Other websites and blogs are run by humans who need to navigate through your site just like any other user would. The easier of a time they have navigating through your site, the easier it will be for them to find the valuable content they are looking to incorporate into their website.
How Do I Know If My Strategy Is Working?
Following key performance indicators (KPIs) is the best way to ensure that your SEO strategy, including your internal linking strategy, is working. Use tools like Google Analytics to determine how users are navigating your site.
You can add these filters into the tool to see how long users stay, which links they use, and where they exit. This will offer you plenty of valuable insight into how well these internal links are performing and where they need improvement.
You can also check organic traffic on GA to determine whether or not your internal linking strategy is offering a boost to your SEO value as well as improving your internal site structure.
How Many Internal Links Should I Use?
A general rule of thumb that is great to follow, but has room to play with, is to have at least 2-3 internal links per 1,000 words of content. So, if you are writing a 2,000-word blog article, in most cases you should aim to have 5 internal links, but 4 will be enough, and 6 is good to aim for.
Remember, the key phrase there was “at least”. 5 will be absolutely plenty, but there is nothing wrong with going up to 7 or 8, as long as you are linking to relevant locations on your site and not just adding new, useless content to up your word count or links.
Ideally, in this 2,000-word article, you won’t be including any navigation menu links. We’re talking specifically about the internal links within your content. Sticking as close to that goal as possible without changing your navigation tools will ultimately yield the best results.
Is There Such Thing As Too Many Internal Links?
Yes. Google says that too many internal links will dilute the value of a page. Remember to only add a link if you truly believe that it has value to your content. If you’re unsure, it’s better to omit the sentence entirely.
Should I Use More Internal Or External Links?
You should try to keep them consistent. In regard to the previous question, there is also such a thing as too many externals. If you write a 1,000-word blog article, using 2 or 3 of each would be the ideal amount. Both of them are equally important for SEO value and should always be used in tandem and when relevant to your content.
How Do I Get Started?
Well, you can try to implement an internal linking strategy across your existing website and blog content and do your best to continue these best practices with all new content moving forward.
You can also look for professional SEO services to do the job for you if you want to take that responsibility off your plate and ensure that the job is done with maximum efficiency. Check out our pricing if you’re interested, especially since we even offer free services!
Build Your Linking Strategy Today!
Now that you know the important role of internal linking in SEO, the best thing you can do is to start using these tools to your advantage. Internal links are the best way to help your users and Google navigate through your site, so give them every option possible. Stay up to date with our latest news for your website, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions!