Internal links are hyperlinks that redirect to pages on the same website.
These links help in passing PageRank (or SEO value) and context via anchor text and surrounding content.
Why are Internal Links Crucial for SEO?
Internal links play a key role in helping Google find, index, and understand all your website pages.
If you use internal links strategically, they can send your website’s page authority (or PageRank) to important pages.
In a nutshell, internal linking is important for any website that wants to rank high in Google.
Best Internal Linking Practices
Now that we’ve taken a brief look at why internal links are important to SEO,
let’s proceed to the best internal linking strategies that you can implement for your website:
Include SEO into your content marketing strategy
When you consider SEO while developing your content strategy, you will be able to create content that is appropriate for internal linking. Think about the personas of your audience, their challenges, and the route they take to be converted to customers.
What is the view of your customers about their challenges and what are the possible solutions?
Which terms do they use to search for information on Google?
What is the intent behind the keywords, and in what format should you present your content?
Create content that meets the immediate needs of your audience and anticipate their questions as they move through the funnel. Then add internal links at strategic places in the content to capture their interest and answer the questions in their mind as they go through the content.
Make use of topic clusters and pillar pages
Topic clusters refer to related buckets of content that cover broad concepts. Each group of content has one pillar page as well as many supporting cluster pages.
Topic clusters are effective in internal linking strategy because they create hubs of relevant content.
Each pillar page creates an overview of a high-level topic and also introduces different subtopics.
Pillar pages redirect to more detailed blog posts about the subtopics using appropriate sub-headings. These blog posts are referred to as cluster pages. The cluster pages link back to the main pillar page.
Cluster pages also link to other cluster pages where appropriate, and also link to other pillar pages.
Topic clusters play a key role in demonstrating expertise and depth of topic coverage to Google. They also organize the content into subtopics which is what Google is interested in.
According to an announcement made by Google, they made a breakthrough in ranking that allows them to have a better understanding of the relevance of each passage from your web pages, and even index the passages separately.
Link out from authoritative web pages
Instead of making this process more difficult than it needs to be, you can easily assess the authority of your web pages through the strength of their backlink profile by using tools like Ahrefs or Moz.
You don’t need to use algorithms or sculpt PageRank. Just ensure that you add internal links to relevant pages that have lots of great backlinks. The higher the number of backlinks you have, the more links you will be able to add without affecting their value.
Include keywords in the anchor text
Some SEO experts advise that you are mindful of the way you use the exact match anchor text to avoid being penalized by Google.
I don’t agree with this recommendation.
There is nothing wrong with linking to your content from your domain using relevant, keyword-rich anchor text.
It is your website,
So you are free to do what you want. Just don’t stuff the anchor text with keywords unnaturally. Also, don’t overuse the keyword-rich anchor texts if you are building backlinks from other sites.
You have nothing to worry about provided your internal links and anchor text are intended to offer value to your users and are meaningful contextually.
The fact that Google says “Avoid using excessively keyword-filled or lengthy anchor text just for search engines” does not mean you shouldn’t use exact match keywords. It means you can use anchor texts like the ones below:
- SEO strategy
- How to build an SEO strategy
- Create an SEO strategy that works
- Develop an effective SEO strategy
The statement also means you should anchor texts that look like this: “search engine optimization SEO strategy tactics.”
I believe you notice the difference. You cannot follow Google’s recommendations and use short anchor text without incorporating exact match keywords. If you include SEO strategy in the anchor text, and you have a web page with content about it, link to the page.
Mix up the anchor text
Anchor text is very important. Google uses anchor text to understand what you have on the other side of a link. It influences your ranking on Google search results, so you need to use it in a way that benefits you.
I believe that when you publish content,
You wants it to rank for other terms apart from the head term. You want the page to rank for tons of long-tail keywords that drive massive targeted traffic.
An effective strategy that you can use to influence your rankings for the search terms with lower volume is to include them in your internal links.
If a web page has lots of internal links with exact match anchor text, mix the anchor text up. Try and use broad match variations, especially if the variations portray the search intent of your main keyword.
Place more priority on relevance than location
Statements like “internal links above the fold or within the first paragraph are more valuable” are controversial because they go against Google’s opinion on relevance and user experience. Packing links unnaturally into your content as high as possible can harm usability and also affect trust.
This shows that Google cannot implement a ranking signal that is not user-friendly.
When placing links, think about who your users are. Add links to areas that are relevant and useful on your page.
You are free to pack your subheadings with relevant context about topics that relate to the links in your content.
Don’t forget that context is king. If there is a section on your page that talks about the role of backlinks, that is the most appropriate place to link to a blog post about backlinks.
But if you don’t have a page about that topic, you can still introduce something into the content as long as it is relevant to the link.
Include links from old content
Everyone talks about this but only a few implement it. The truth is the more content you create, the longer it will take you to go back and include internal links.
When you start to build a topic cluster, you may not have many opportunities to add internal links. But when you start creating massive long-form content, you need to add links from every related blog post on your website.
In a nutshell, when you focus on creating long-form content, you need to spend some hours per week to add relevant and useful internal links.
Fix broken internal links
It is important to fix broken links because they affect PageRank, disrupt the user experience, and harm the crawl budget.
You also need to fix redirects. If you redirect web pages to a new URL but the original anchor text is not updated, the links may end up sending different signals to Google about what the new page is about.
This may be scary if you have tons of pages on your website.
You have nothing to worry about. You are most likely to have just a few dozen custom-built internal links that point to those pages from your blog posts. Other links are likely to be navigational links so you have no business with them.
If you have been in the business of content creation and content marketing for a while, then you must be familiar with PageRank sculpting. Back in those days, webmasters would nofollow internal links to stop PageRank from going to unwanted URLs.
This would direct the flow of links to important pages while also allowing links to be useful to users.
This is no longer the case.
Now, PageRank goes away through nofollow links. It does not go to the destination page, neither does it get distributed to the other links on the page. It simply ‘evaporates.’
In a nutshell,
You should dofollow internal links. An exception to this strategy is if you have millions of pages with low-value which you don’t want to be discovered by Google.
Don’t use automation
Tools that automate internal linking are not good for the following reasons:
- Internal links generator tools add links without having an in-depth understanding of the pages that need the best links or the pages on your site that are most appropriate to link from.
- Depending on how big your site is, plugins can easily create 1,000 exact match anchor text links within a short period; thereby leading to anchor text spam.
- Internal links are not only meant for SEO but to also help users find relevant content on your website. Plugins or bots ignore this need.
Internal links are useful for SEO.
SEO goes beyond just optimizing title tags, including keywords, and building links. It entails giving your users the best experience, being found throughout their journey through the funnel, and ensuring Google and other search engines see the value you offer as much as your users do.
incorporating a strategic approach to internal linking that will help you achieve these goals and also increase efficiencies to yield the best results.
Elena is an SEO and Keyword Research enthusiast, Contributes to the blog section, and manages the chat system at 1stpageKWs. She loves spending her precious time with the family.