The Easy Guide to Internal Links (And How They Can Help Your Website)
In SEO, people often worry about obtaining external links and neglect internal links in the process.
This is a mistake.
Internal links are an important part of your search engine optimisation strategy.
External links can sometimes be beyond your control. You can ask other websites to link to your pages, but it’s never guaranteed.
Internal links are all up to you. You decide which page links to a specific blog post. You decide how the link looks and where it’s placed.
In this blog post, let me break down how important internal links can be to your website’s SEO. Let’s get started.
Internal Links vs. External Links
Before we start, you might be wondering what the difference between external and internal links is.
External links are links on other websites that link back to your website. These are also referred to as backlinks.
Let’s say you wrote a blog post recommending Top 10 Blogs Small Businesses Should Follow. A small business owner liked the blog post so much that they linked to it on their website.
Every external link you manage to get is like a vote of confidence from other people. The more external links you have, the more Google can tell how great your content is.
Internal links are links from your own web pages to other pages and posts on your website.
For example, you wrote a blog post recommending washing machines to your blog readers. You linked to the product page of a washing machine you sell in that blog post. That’s what we call an internal link.
Internal Linking Terms You Should Know
When people talk about internal links, they use terms that can be hard for non-experts to understand. This can make the topic confusing or overly technical.
The good news is, these terms are all connected. Understanding one often means understanding the rest.
A crawler is a program search engines use to find and index web pages on the Internet. They’re also known as spiders and are a huge reason why links are so important.
Crawlers use external and internal links to find new pages. Your web page can’t rank on Google if there are no links to it. It would be impossible for crawlers to find it.
If you have a new web page and you want Google to index it, it may take a while before other websites link to it. This is where internal links come in.
Adding a link to the new web page on your navigation bar or blog will send crawlers to that new page. It may take days for the crawlers to complete the process, but you’ll get there.
The anchor text is the actual word(s) used to link to another page. For example, Your About page links to www.yourbusiness.com/about. The text in your navigation bar that says About is your anchor text.
For SEO purposes, your anchor text doesn’t always have to be literal. If you want to link to a blog post entitled Top 10 Best Washing Machines for Small Apartments, you don’t have to use the same words for your anchor text.
We’ll go more in depth into that later.
Page Authority is a scoring system that estimates how a page will rank on Google. The company Moz developed it, and you can score anything from 1 to 100.
This factor often depends on external links. Google thinks your page content is important if a lot of other websites link to it.
There is no magic formula for increasing your page authority. Like always, it’s all about content. Once your page has valuable content, you won’t have to resort to spammy tactics to get people to link to it.
If external links increase your page authority, what does any of this have to do with internal links?
This leads us to the last term we need to define.
Link equity, also known as “link juice”, refers to the “authority” one web page gives to another by linking to it.
Let’s say you wrote a blog post teaching people a new way to cook buttered broccoli. A popular vegetarian blogger with high page authority saw your post, loved it and linked to it.
That single link gives you a bigger chance of ranking on Google search results.
Link equity can’t be passed on only from external links. You can pass it to yourself…with internal linking.
If you’ve been creating valuable content online for a while now, you might have a page with high page authority. You can create a link on that high authority page to one of the pages that you’d like to rank higher.
You have to be careful with this, though.
Google can tell if the links on a page are relevant to it or not. If your high authority page is about headphones, you can’t link to a page about property development. You’ll only be wasting your time.
Link equity is also distributed equally to all the websites the high authority page is linking to. This means that even if a high authority page is linking to your page, you’re not going to get all the “link juice.”
For example, a blog post entitled Top Ten Winter Boots links to product pages of all the boots it’s recommending. All the product pages as well as the links in the navigation bar, footer and more are going to get equal amounts of authority.
So, if you have a high authority page on your website, it can help a new page you’d like to rank higher on Google. Keep in mind that the value of that link will depend on the number of links you put on that page.
You wouldn’t want to use up all that link juice, would you?
How Internal Links Can Help Your Website
They tell Google which pages are important.
You might not be aware of it, but your website has a structure. It kind of looks like an organisational chart.
The pages in your navigation bar are the “main” links. Google will prioritise those pages, and they’ll have a bigger chance of ranking higher on search results. For most websites, they often include links to Home, About, Contact Us and so forth.
The main pages link to secondary pages hopefully under the same topic, and that tells Google which pages are connected. It makes it easier for crawlers to find and index individual web pages.
They make users stay longer on your site.
Imagine looking for a movie summary online. You stumble upon the movie’s Wikipedia page, get curious about what other movies the main actor starred in and click on his name. An hour later, you emerge from a Wikipedia haze.
You somehow find yourself on a page about the American founding father Alexander Hamilton. You have no idea how or when you got there.
That’s the power of internal links.
Once a user lands on your site, you can make them stay with internal links. If they read your blog post, make sure to link to other pages or posts on your site with relevant content.
The longer users stay on your site, the better. It’s because Google factors in engagement as a ranking factor. Measures like bounce rate are a stat that Google uses.
Your bounce rate is the percentage of people who land on your site and leave without visiting other pages.
This type of behaviour is bad for your website’s SEO. It makes Google think users don’t like your content or don’t find it helpful, and you’re going to get pushed down in Google search results.
In a nutshell, getting users to stay longer on your site gives you bigger chances of converting them into customers and helps your SEO.
Reel them in with attention-grabbing headlines. Make them stay with relevant and interesting internal links.
How to Use Internal Links for Search Engine Optimisation
Insert them into your web copy with readers in mind.
Remember what I said earlier about Google being able to tell if your internal links are relevant or not?
Well, making sure your internal links all make sense isn’t as hard as it sounds.
If you sell a product or offer a service, you most likely create marketing content connected to it.
Let’s go back to one of our earlier examples. You sell winter boots, and you wrote a blog post entitled Top Ten Winter Boots.
Your post contains internal links to product pages of winter boots you sell. The internal links will make sense to Google because they’re helpful to users looking for winter boots. They’re also helpful to you because they might even help you make a sale.
Or you offer coaching services for copywriters. If that’s the case, you’ve most likely written a blog post about finding clients, building a brand, improving your writing skills and more.
One of your blog posts about building a brand can contain a sentence like this:
Building a unique brand will help you find more copywriting clients.
The words “find more copywriting clients” can be the anchor text for an internal link to a blog post about, well, finding more clients.
If the user is already interested in the topic, there’s a huge chance they’re going to click on the internal link. Getting them to stay longer on your website won’t be a problem.
Keep this one thing in mind: Don’t be spammy.
Never try to insert as many internal links into a page as possible just because you can. Your site visitors will be able to tell right away that something is off and leave. And if they do, Google will likely rank that page lower.
Think about where your links are being placed.
Most people don’t know this, but where your place your links is pretty important.
If your link is on your navigation bar or in the body of your blog post, Google will know it’s important. Google will think you want people to see those links and they might be of value.
And links in your footer?
Not so much.
Google also takes into account how often you link to a specific page. Let’s say you provide web design services, and you wrote an in-depth guide about choosing the right web designer.
If you link to that post in almost every page, Google will know you think it’s important. It’ll have a higher chance of ranking in Google search results.
Audit your old content.
If you’re a business owner, you probably already have a website with a lot of content. Maybe some of them have even ranked on Google.
Now, you have to check your existing content. See if you can add internal links in your old posts to content you’ve recently created.
This a great way to start adding internal linking to your SEO strategy. You don’t have to create new content for this step. You just have to evaluate what you already have.
But if you’re in the mood to write new blog posts, you can create new content based on what you already have on your website. Let’s say you wrote a blog post about Top Ten Winter Boots before. What if you write a post entitled How to Choose New Winter Boots?
You can then add internal links to both posts because guess what? You’ve created relevant and helpful content you can link to each other.
External links and internal links are both important.
Internal links help Google crawlers find pages.
They tell Google which pages are important.
If your posts contain relevant links to other content you’ve created, visitors will stay longer.
Insert relevant internal links into content with the reader in mind.
Consider whether a link should be in your navigation bar, blog post body or footer.
Examine your old content, and see if you can add any internal links.
Cornerstone Digital is a search engine optimisation company in Sydney. We love all things SEO and would welcome the opportunity to create a great SEO strategy for you. Talk to us today. Call us on (02) 8211 0668 or email us at [email protected]
Having extensive experience in the Digital Marketing field, Hershey Pagtakhan makes sure that you have the right strategy to reach your target market. She knows when and where to push your digital marketing efforts to get the best results. A mother of two, a gamer and a believer that details are as important as the big picture.