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Ever since the game of SEO started, link has always been one of the most effective SEO tactics.
This is because Google and other search engines uses link as a major ranking factor to rate and rank a website.
In fact, links formed the foundation of Google’s original algorithm known as PageRank in 1998. Experts believe that link remains a key ranking signal despite the constant updates made by Google ever since then.
Over the years, if most of the online businesses focus on building and acquiring backlinks, they will be well awarded with a higher rank in SERP. But there’s one technique that was being neglected by many – Internal linking.
I hope you are not but if you are neglecting them, buckled up and let’s start this mission possible.
Internal linking builds a strong foundation for a site’s on-page SEO
Different from off-page SEO, on-page SEO refers to all the elements of SEO you can control best. In other words, on-page SEO is the practice that you do to optimize individual web pages with the goal to rank higher and earn more relevant organic traffic to your site.
To get ahead of the rest in the SEO industry, ultimately you need a solid SEO foundation. A strong foundation for a site’s on-page SEO may comes in many ways, but internal linking continues to be the first amongst the other factors.
Today we are going to discuss what is internal link, how does it affect your SEO significantly and the best SEO practices for internal linking strategies.
Before we go in depth on benefits of internal linking in your site, let’s start from the definition of internal link. Shall we?
When a page has a hyperlink that connects to another page under the same domain, it’s called internal link.
In other words, you link a page of your own, to another page of your own.
Simple, right? Well, It is.
When talking about internal link, there are the other types of link you would probably came across to as you move deeper into the topic.
Generally they are;
p/s: You have to look from the point of view of a page direction in order to differentiate between the types of link above.
Now, why is internal linking important, you ask?
Yes, we’ve mentioned that internal linking is the fundamental of on-page SEO, but how does it really help a site’s SEO?
To answer this, you first need to understand the main purpose of internal linking. There are 3 main purpose of internal linking:
It’s often used to navigate users experience on a site.
It is the architecture and hierarchy of a website. This is an invisible layer to website visitors, but crucially important to the search engine crawlers.
It can be used effectively to increase the page authority and trustability of a page that it’s linking to.
**The concept of link juice will be discussed in the following section.
These factors are going to heavily influence and determine the performance of the on-page SEO of a page.
Up until here, does it change the way you view Internal linking now?
I’m going to share with you the evergreen strategies in internal linking that is going to boost your on-page SEO in no time.
Before that, let’s look at the 5 SEO benefits of internal linking for your site.
We hope you have a better understanding of internal links now. Here are 5 top reasons to focus on good internal link strategy.
As you already know, Google uses their crawler bots or “spiders” to navigate in a site and find out what the site is all about. These crawlers will make their way through your pages, and index them accordingly.
Do you get the picture here? If you do not provide internal linking between pages of your sites, there’s no way for Google to crawl and index your site.
These smart crawlers visit your pages and it’s their job to pass through all the links that you have provided and the pages can get easily indexed.
Just so you know, it takes these bots much longer to index pages on sites without a good internal link structure. By linking your internal pages to each other, you make it easier and faster for Google bots to index your pages.
So, always make sure that all your interlinked pages are easily accessible to search engines.
Google’s spider will crawl a web following the link paths defined by the website structure. Build a smart internal linking architecture to help the crawler find deeper pages that are not always visited, for instance new content.
When you have a new content published, make sure that it is internally linked in the way you would like the crawler to find it. Imagine these smart crawlers are a human, and treat them as one. Teach them to find and read your content just like how we, as a human, do.
If a website has strong internal linking, Google crawler will find it easier to crawl and find the new content that you created and link to. Internal linking also helps the crawlers to know you are pointing to other related content in your site.
Build multiple internal link to your new content (make sure they are relevant), this will enable the crawling to happen a lot more faster, and helps Google to discover your new content faster.
The faster Google is able to discover your content, the faster it will be indexed and appear in the search rankings.
Always treat your visitors well.
It’s the single most important thing your website should be doing for them.
Search engines put great emphasis on rewarding positive user experiences as they care about their searches. When someone uses Google and finds what they’re looking for at the top of the search results, the site is giving them a user value.
Say your users enjoy reading your content, they are going to search for similar content that provides the similar or greater value. Internal linking makes this process easier.
Furthermore, seeing how frequent Google keeps updating their algorithms, it’s important to align your content with your conversion goals. If you have valuable content that leads to a meaningful customer journey and sales cycle, then you’re sure to enjoy the opportunity to keep visitors in your site.
Valuable content with well-planned internal linking helps to not only increase the value of your site in the eyes of the searchers but also put a greater trust in the conversion process.
Comparing to backlinks, internal links can’t increase the overall authority of a site, but what they can do is give some of their own authority to another page.
For example, if you have just created a new blog post in your site, this new blog post is usually starting without any page authority. What you can do next to increase its page authority is by pointing some of inbound links from an existing high authority blog post to the new post.
A proper internal linking helps you to pass authority from one page to another strategically. Basically, some of your pages will have more authority than the rest. These are the pages that already have links pointing to them at the first place. The best example is your home page.
When talking about the amount of authority, some of your pages will benefit from authority more than others. By making internal linking from pages that may be ranking high on page one, it will helps your new blog post with a high value and authority. Internal linking is a great strategy especially if you want to increase the overall SEO value.
Using proper anchor texts helps visitor in your website to find more useful and related content. When they see a link in a blog post that they are enjoying, they’ll tend to click on it and read more content in your website.
As discussed earlier, internal links not only help Google to crawl your site easier but also the visitors. When use properly, internal links can be very helpful in guiding the visitors what other contents that they may be interested in your site. Thus, increasing page views to the whole site.
Imagine a new visitor visiting your site and they found more related content to the searches that they are looking for. They’ll continue digging in your site and they can move on to other pages linked from the first one they visited.
Capturing their interest brings us to the next advantage; increase time on your site and lower bounce rate. High bounce rate could indicate a negative user experience. To reduce bounce rate, give them a reason and a means to go deeper; internal linking.
Plus, this also helps to keep users on your site for a long time, and more opportunities to sell or do more brand exposure.
Before you even started to do internal linking, you need to have sufficient content of internal pages.
How could you even create strategic internal linking if you do not have linkable content. The school of thought is, having a killer content marketing strategy, where you’ve created a lot of content.
Well, do not create content for the sake of increasing content quantity. Every piece of content shall be created to deliver true values to a targeted group of audience with a specific topic.
The more internal links created to link quality content, the better your internal linking strategy will be.
Internal linking build up the architecture and structure of a website, which determine the search engine crawler efficiency like we discussed earlier. Well, an organize website structure shall not be misunderstood by the needs of building a mathematically-balance structure that looks like pyramid.
An optimal website structure do not necessary need to be build like this:
As long as the page is internally linked to provide a better navigation and valuable experience to the users, it’s all right.
The main purpose of internal linking is to create a better navigation experience and value to the users. Make sure you do not link for the sake of linking.
A page shall only be linked when it is relevant and valuable to the source context.
You don’t want to overuse internal links on your pages or else it can be viewed as spam.
The rule of thumb is to link a relevant page to a source page.
Pages linked with highly relevant pages will boost pageviews, time on page and directly improve the overall SEO. However, search engines like Google have never revealed the exact formula they used to quantify and measure the SEO score for a high relevance internal linking.
The experts believe that the relevance between two pages can be understood by measuring the similarity, relation and distance between the content of source and destination pages, as described by the word2vec and doc2vec model.
The deeper your pages are internally linked, the better the SEO result will be.
Most of the internal linking is done at one startpage level. Meaning to say, most of the links on a page is linking to a standard page, such as “Homepage” and “Contact Us”.
Unfortunately, internal linking to a startpage has very little value to the site’s SEO. In some cases, it’s even bad for the SEO.
Hence, you should design your page with a main navigation menu which allows users to navigate your standard pages. Avoid linking to a standard page in your content.
Instead, do internal linking on a page of a deeper level. This will in turn create a stronger internal linking structure within the site.
Internal linking spreads link juice of the site to its internal pages.
The search engine algorithm uses a more complex system to determine the value of the link juice, but the basic concept of link juice can be understood with the following flow graph:
The link juice of a page can and needs to be controlled well, in order to achieve maximum SEO result. You do not want to pass the link juice to a page that you do not want to be indexed by the search engine.
Well, you may ask if we do not want to pass link juice to a page, why would we want to link that page in the very first place. See, there are many cases that requires a link without the need of link juice.
It can be in the form of;
To manage the link juice to transfer within your internal linking pages, learn how to use dofollow and nofollow link.
Anchor text is the descriptive copy used in a hyperlink.
There are several types of anchor text, namely brand name, naked URL, random text, and natural descriptive.
During internal linking, use anchor texts or phrases that describes what the target link is all about. This will give users a better idea and understanding on what they are expecting after clicking the link. Thereby, increasing the click-through-rate (CTR) of a particular link.
If users experienced an unsatisfactory targeted page after clicking the anchor text, they might close it and that will increase the bounce rate of your site, which is a BAD thing for your SEO.
Using benefit driven anchor text will boost the CTR of the link, yet bare in mind that, the targeted page has to be both relevant and valuable to the user.
Internal linking is simple yet plays an important role in SEO. Unlike backlinks, internal links are completely controlled by you. You have the ultimate power in deciding your internal linking strategy for the overall site.
To excel in internal linking;
Do internal link building for a highly relevant page, link them deep at page to page level, implement dofollow and nofollow link to manage the link juice, and last but not least, use meaningful anchor text in your internal linking.
Practise these steps in your future pages, and optimize your existing pages based on these guidelines. You will see your site’s ranking start to climb in the search engine result page in no time!
Go forth and DO internal links!
Did we miss out any important details on internal link? Feel free to drop us a comment in the comment section below!
Updated: 17 January 2019