How Internal Links Can Make or Break Your SEO Strategy
Internal linking is a basic, but often underrated form of SEO, especially in a world where marketers are busy strategizing for niche hacks like image SEO.
However, to stay competitive you need to get back to basics in order to stay ahead of your competition.
Understanding internal links
It seems pretty obvious and for the most part it is. Any link that points to an internal location within your domain is an internal link. âAs opposed to the more popular and familiar external hyperlinks,â says Chris Long, architectural SEO manager at Go Fish Digital, “Internal hyperlinks are links that point from one web page to another within the same domain.”
Long says internal links help establish the structure of a website and mostly appear in the main navigation, sidebar, and footer. The most vital internal links for Google, however, are contextual; Links in content that have relevant anchor text.
Related Article: How To Outperform Your Competition With A Smart Image SEO Strategy
Why are internal links important for SEO?
While internal links make site navigation user-friendly, they also have SEO benefits. âFrom a SEO perspective, [internal links] give a webmaster the ability to clearly tell Google which pages offer information and which pages are more transaction-oriented, âsaid Simon Ensor, Managing Director of Yellow ball. Internal links allow Google to understand your website structure and which pages are most valuable.
According to Yoast, internal links help search engines, such as Google, include:
- The relevance of the pages.
- The relationship between the pages.
- The value of the pages.
5 ways to start an internal linking strategy
Experts share several suggestions on how to improve your site’s internal linking, while improving user experience and increasing SEO rankings.
1. Improve the site hierarchy
When setting up an internal linking strategy, Long says that “the first step would be to perform a simulated website analysis.” You need to understand how the site is currently structured.
Next, you want to adjust the structure of the site to push readers to deeper, more relevant pages. “When visiting a site,” Long explained, “internal links should be hierarchically intuitive so that users can easily navigate to the” main “pages of a site.” He said you should cascade the links out so that there are more unique links on essential pages and page authority is shared across your site.
2. Correct your links
You should check your website links every now and then to fix broken links and change links that have been redirected 301 to other pages. “Unless you have a significant number of broken links or a complete lack of internal links, you’re unlikely to see a significant impact on rankings as a result of being audited (and fixed),” said Ensor said. However, he added that you will have a better user experience and a better flow which could lead to more conversions.
The anchor text of your internal links is also essential. “Your anchor text should be logical and it should not be the same every time you link to this page,” said Laura English, copy and content manager at Probe. You want to avoid using generic calls to action and need to choose anchor text that is both interesting to the reader and also has relevant keywords.
3. Point to relevant pages
âIn the case of internal links,â suggests Ensor, âyou always have to ask yourself whether the link is useful to the user. You want internal links in the content to point to pages that are a natural progression to display next.
You don’t want to include as many links as possible on each page to boost SEO rankings. “If an excessive number of internal links point to an unimportant, low ranking, low traffic page,” says Long, “a crawler can slow down its crawl of the rest of the site.”
4. Help search bots
Make sure your content follows basic SEO techniques. English explains that your content “should be focused on spreading additional keywords, strategically getting at least two internal links, and potentially getting backlinks to that content.”
You also want your website to avoid a complex structure. Long suggests that you “try to keep the” exploration depth “of a site hierarchy 3/4 layers deep”. If the search engine bots have to drop too many levels, they might be more likely to end their crawling of the site. âInternal hyperlinks directly influence a search engine bot’s crawl budget – that is, how long and how many pages a search engine bot will crawl a given website,â Long said. .
5. Stay natural
âAlways keep it natural and contextual,â English said. While you are hoping for better page rankings when posting content, you need to make sure that the content is relevant to your site visitors.
While an internal linking strategy is crucial for SEO, English stressed that “everything should be for humans before Google – if you don’t have human interaction, you won’t have Google’s either.” .
6. Consider a business blog
Having a regularly updated blog is another authentic way to build internal links, like sites that blog, for example, on average. have 434% more pages indexed by search engines than those who don’t.