Search Marketers' 5 Best Practices for Internal Linking
Internal links function a lot like road signs for the Internet. You reach your destination faster when they are clear and lead you in the right direction.
Internal links perform a similar function for popular search engines. They use them to guide visitors to relevant information on your website.
First, What Is Internal Linking?
Internal links connect the pages of your website to one another. You may be discussing a topic like making sunflower oil and link to a previously written article on different types of equipment you can use in this process. Doing so helps apply structure and logic to the design of your website.
By adding internal linking, you can:
- Define the architecture of your website
- Help users navigate through your site
- Give pages throughout your site more "SEO power" to help ranking and authority
Internal linking helps Google and other search engines find clear paths to your content. They also encourage users to linger on your website longer and build a tight network of posts and pages.
How Are Internal and Inbound Linking Different?
Inbound links, also commonly called backlinks, connect one external website to another. Your online reputation rises whenever an external site makes a legitimate link back to your webpage. It is a digital representation of a recommendation. Someone is confirming that your website is a valuable resource on a specific subject.
Inbound links are also an important factor in Google’s assessment of how well you conform to E-A-T standards.
- E — Expert
- A — Authoritative
- T — Trustworthy
That is how Google decides how well sites rate when it comes to answering user queries. The higher your E-A-T factor, the better your overall rankings in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
OK, now that you understand inbound links let's switch the focus back to internal links...
How Do Internal Links Affect SEO?
Internal links also play a significant role in E-A-T. You strengthen the optimization of your site and make it easier for Google to assess how well you rate in responding to search requests. This helps Google more easily index your pages and, hopefully, result in better search rankings for your website.
If your analysis of your inbound links shows most of them coming to your homepage, that is a sign that your pages are not fully optimized. You want to see users coming to your internal pages and then making their way to your homepage. External links should target various pages around your site.
Strong internal linking creates better indexation and clear paths to relevant content around your site. It helps contribute to a pyramid-style structure of your website, meaning there are very few links (or pages) between your homepage and other site pages, helping them achieve stronger ranking power.
Tips on Improving Your Internal Linking
You should keep the following in mind when adding internal links to content throughout your website. Please note that you should no longer need to stuff internal links with keywords, a popular SEO method from prior years.
- Use Anchor Text instead of navigational text or images to increase the value of your internal links in search engines.
- Make Sure You Have a Lot of Content Pages around your site. The better your information, the longer users will linger.
- Link as Deeply as Possible and stay away from links to pages already included in your main navigation like your Home page. Make those links as natural as possible for a better content marketing strategy.
- Make Your Links Relevant to the information users need. Don’t send users to a page about red sneakers when they are interested in details on orthopedic inserts.
- Avoid Overkill. While internal linking can be a powerful SEO tool, adding too many can end up being less useful for the user. That means no blocks of link footers at the bottom of your page.
Keep the following in mind when it comes to internal linking.
- Make sure your internal links provide a clear path to relevant information for a user.
- Understand the difference between internal and inbound links. Both can be leveraged in improving your site SEO.
- Follow best practices when creating internal links. Avoid misleading links, keyword stuffing, and overloading of internal links within your content.
Want more tips to improve your search engine optimization? Click here to grab a copy of the "Ultimate SEO Checklist."
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.