When you hire a professional or company to manage your SEO, one of the things they’re going to focus on is link building. Link building is a huge part of SEO overall.
For example, let’s say you hire an attorney SEO specialist if that’s your industry. The specialist is likely going to start working on getting authoritative, relevant sites to link back to yours, which is like a vote of confidence in your site from search engines.
Along with backlinks from other sites to your own, there’s something else to be aware of, and that’s the importance of internal linking.
Internal links are hyperlinks that point to the same domain as the domain where the source exists. Basically, to put this in simpler terms, it’s a link pointing to another page on your site.
When it comes to how many internal links you should have, there’s no specific answer. Google indicates the algorithms can crawl hundreds of links per page, but that doesn’t mean that’s how many you need.
You have to balance internal links and their importance with the user experience. You want to make sure that you have a reasonable number of links per page for SEO benefits.
When you’re doing internal link building, you want to look for pages on your site that are ranking for related topics. You then link them with descriptive anchor text.
So why exactly are internal links so important?
Better User Experience
SEO isn’t about writing content for Google. It’s about providing a great user experience, and then that’s going to translate to better rankings.
Internal links can improve your user experience. When you have relevant internal links, then you’re giving your readers a chance to learn more about what interests them on your site and you’re guiding them through your content.
Establishing Site Architecture
On a single page, a search engine needs to see content to be able to list pages in their keyword-driven index. They need to be able to access a link structure that’s crawlable too.
That means a structure that will let spiders “browse” the pathways of a site to then find all of the pages it contains.
If you’re burying your link navigation, then search engines can’t access it, so they aren’t able to get pages listed in search engine indices.
If spiders can’t reach a page, then it doesn’t matter how great the content is. The same issue will translate to your human visitors—they won’t be able to find the page. Therefore it has no value for you.
Internal links are good for link equity too. With link equity, there are links that flow throughout your site, increasing its ranking potential.
Google uses the Googlebot to follow links and crawl sites. The bot goes to the homepage of a site, renders that page, and then follows the first link, allowing it to work out what the relationship is between pages, content, and posts. This all helps Google figure out the pages on your site covering similar topics.
This was touched on a bit above, but internal links are important because Google divides your link value between all the links on a page.
The homepage of a site might have the most link value because of its high number of backlinks. The link value is then shared between all the links on this homepage, and the link value that goes onto another page is divided between the page’s links, and so on.
If you have a new blog post, you’ll get more link value if you’re linking from your homepage instead of just your category page.
When you have internal links, it can transfer some ranking power from a page that does well to another that you’re linking to it from.
Signaling to Google the Keyword You Want To Rank
One benefit of internal links is that you have full control over how you add them, allowing you to send a message to Google about your keywords and your page associations through your anchor text.
Every internal link will use anchor text. That anchor text provides context to search engines and users.
When your anchor text has contextual relevance, then it gives you a chance to tell a search engine that your page should rank for a certain keyword. That boosts relevance.
Tips for an Internal Linking Strategy
When you understand the importance of internal linking, you can start to create a strategy. Remember the following in doing so:
- Think about how you ideally want to structure your site. Consider it to be a pyramid. In this pyramid, the top is your homepage, and then there are categories and sections, and down below that, posts and pages.
- What is your most important content? Consider your cornerstone content which is going to be your most comprehensive, high-quality content. It’s the core of everything else you’re doing, and it’s the content you most want people to find. To let Google know that you feel this is your most important content, make sure you have a lot of internal links going back to it.
- Use contextual links. When you’re writing content about topics that relate to one another, make sure you’re linking them.
- Use a related post section. There are plugins that make it easy to add a section to your content that will automatically show related posts.
- You can add links to your cornerstone content from your homepage or top navigation. This is something you should do with your pages and posts that you feel are most important because you’re going to strengthen them from the perspective of Google, giving them a lot of link value.
- Link to your taxonomies. Your taxonomies include tags and categories, and they organize your site, helping Google and users understand what it’s about. You can add internal links to the taxonomies that your post belongs to.
Finally, make internal links to the newest or most popular posts on your site. You can do that in the sidebar or footer so they appear on all of your pages. This will boost your SEO and help make them easier for your site visitors to access.