Guide for Improving Your Internal Linking Structure
In this post, our team takes a closer look at internal linking best practices. This is a practical guide for implementing an effective internal linking structure designed to elevate your website’s SEO performance.
A great internal linking strategy is a fundamental aspect of SEO and plays a crucial role in optimizing website performance. It involves setting up relevant text links (hyperlinks) between different pages on your website. You can even optimize your text links! This not only improves the user experience but also helps the search engines understand the structure and relevance of your website’s content.
Remember, Google will consider a page to be orphaned and less important if that page has no links pointing to it from the content of any other page on your website. Navigation links and sitemap links don’t count.
When you strategically set up and optimize your internal linking structure so that relevant pages on your site support each other you help both visitors and the search engines. This is a great way to enhance your website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) and drive qualified organic traffic.
What is Internal Linking? How to Link Within A Website
“What exactly is internal linking?” you may ask, and “What are the internal linking best practices?”
We recently wrote a useful guide to link building for SEO that you may find helpful.
In the guide, we briefly touched on the importance of links within the website. As mentioned, a well-thought-out internal linking structure makes it a lot easier for users to navigate you website. They can find relevant information faster without getting lost.
For search engines, these internal links are like signals that help them understand and index your website’s content more effectively.
Internal website links can take many forms:
- Top Navigation Links
- Footer Links
- Text Links Within the Page Content
- Call-to-Action Links (Button Links, Email, Phone Number)
- Image links
- Sidebar Links
We also recommend that you have a well laid out sitemap that includes links to all the important pages on your website.
Common Types of Internal Links
There are many types of internal links commonly used on websites. Let’s take a look at some of these internal linking best practices.
Top Navigation Links
Generally found near the top of the page in the main menu, navigation links help users easily navigate to major sections and pages of a website.
Content Text Links
Hypertext or text links are found within the body content of your web pages or blog posts. Text links can be optimized and are an important part of your internal linking structure. They are used to link between and add additional support to multiple related pages on your site.
Call-to-Action Links (CTA)
Call to action links may include button links, email or a linked phone number. CTA links should be quite visible and encourage users to perform a specific action, like subscribing, filling out a form or contacting you in some way.
Images alt tags can be optimized and images can be linked so the image is clickable and guides the user to other related content.
Sidebar links are commonly found in blogs such as linking to recent posts, popular blog content, or categories.
Why A Good Internal Link Structure Is Important
Following internal linking best practices should be a fundamental aspect of your SEO strategy. But why exactly is the internal structure so important? The answer lies in its impact on two areas:
- Improving the User Experience
- Supporting Your SEO Efforts
Improving the User Experience
A well laid out internal linking structure guides visitors through your website. It connects them with more of your content, reducing bounce rates and increasing their time on your site. Well-placed links can subtly lead visitors to important pages, like product listings or contact forms. This brings the potential for more conversions and a better page experience.
Internal Linking for SEO
By following internal linking best practices, search engines like Google can better understand and rank your web pages. A great internal linking structure helps to distribute ‘link equity‘ across your site, boosting the authority of individual pages. Internal links help search engines understand the structure of your site better, which can improve your rankings in search results.
In essence, a good internal link structure serves as the backbone of your website, holding it together. The structure ensures that both customers and search engines can easily read and navigate your website.
Let’s break down the benefits of internal linking and how they contribute to your link building strategy.
Quote Highlighting the Significance of Effectively Linking Your Web Pages for SEO
Chris Haines, an SEO Professional, underscores the value of a good internal linking structure in this internal links for SEO guide stating:
“Internal links are to backlinks what Robin is to Batman
—they’re crucial to SEO success yet receive little to none of the credit.”
Benefits of Internal Linking
Let’s look at how internal linking best practices can make your website more attractive to both search engines and potential customers.
Links Help Boost Page Authority
Linking to less visible site pages from your high-traffic pages can distribute the ‘SEO juice’ throughout your site. This helps in raising the overall authority of your site pages in the eyes of search engines.
Search engines use internal links to find and index all the pages within your site. A strong internal linking structure ensures that search engines can discover and index more of your pages. This improves your website’s visibility.
By using relevant keywords in your anchor text for internal links you can signal to search engines the topics and relevance of your linked pages.
Reduce Bounce Rates
When visitors find useful text links that keep them engaged, they’re more likely visit other site pages and spend more time on your site. This reduces bounce rates and signals content quality to search engines.
Higher Visibility Can Bring More Leads
The main benefit of properly using internal links is visibility, and visibility brings more leads. More leads bring more customers and more customers bring more growth to your business.
Let’s discuss the best methods for linking web pages for small businesses.
This diagram from Ahrefs is an example of internal linking best practices.
It demonstrates how to organize content from the homepage to other site pages.
Best Practices for Linking Within the Website
We’ve learned that internal linking for SEO purposes can significantly impact your site’s performance. So how do you make your website more discoverable and enjoyable for customers and search engines alike?
Have Relevant Content
Only link to content that is relevant to the context of the page you are linking from. For instance, in a blog post discussing modern home renovation trends, you could include an internal link to your service page on kitchen remodeling.
Use Descriptive Anchor Text
Your anchor text (hyperlink) is clickable text. It should be descriptive and give a clear idea of what the linked page is about. Avoid using generic text links like “click here” or “learn more.” Instead, use words that describe what the destination page is about. For example, “learn more about our SEO Web Design Services.”
Don’t Overdo It – Avoid Link Spam
While linking your pages to one another is good, too many links on a single page can be overwhelming and counterproductive. Balance is essential. Internal linking best practices dictate that the pages you are linking to must be relevant to the content of the page you are linking from. The purpose of the link is to guide the user to additional information relevant to topic of the source page. So never add a text link just for the sake of linking.
Prioritize Important Pages
Use internal links to highlight pages that you want to rank higher or get more traffic. A HOME page might link to a new product page to help support that new page.
Regularly Audit Your Links
Ensure all internal links are functional and relevant. Broken links can harm your site’s usability and SEO. For instance, if you find a link leading to a discontinued product, redirect it to a relevant category page or simply remove the link.
You can check broken links by performing a link audit on all of your website’s internal links. Keep reading to learn how, or contact one of our team members at 1st on the List if you would like us to do a link audit for you.
You can check the health of your website using the Semrush Site Audit tool (Paid tool).
It helps you identify and resolve any site issues.
How to Conduct an Internal Link Audit (in 5 Steps)
A regular audit of your internal links is crucial for maintaining a healthy website. Here’s how to conduct an internal link audit.
- Gather Data: Use tools like Google Analytics, SEMrush, or Ahrefs to identify all internal links on your site.
- Check for Broken Links: Identify and fix any broken or dead links.
- Evaluate Link Quality and Relevance: Ensure that links are relevant and add value to the customer experience.
- Assess Link Distribution: Check if some pages have too many or too few links. Aim for a balanced distribution that aligns with your site’s structure and user pathways.
- Update Regularly: Keep your internal links up-to-date. This is especially important when adding new content or making changes to your site structure.
By routinely auditing your internal link structure, you ensure optimal website performance and maintain its SEO strength. Now, let’s talk strategy and how to implement internal linking best practices.
Simple Internal Linking SEO Strategies
A strategy for internal linking in SEO includes how and why you choose to link certain pages. It helps determine the overall structure of your site’s internal links. It’s important to choose linking strategies that align with your SEO objectives.
Start with a Clear Navigation Structure
Ensure your main navigation menu includes links to key pages like Home, About Us, Services, Blog, and Contact. This basic structure helps users and search engines understand your site.
Link to Relevant Content within Blogs
When writing blog posts, link to other relevant content or pages on your site that offer additional value or information. For example, linking from this article to a relevant post like Link Building for SEO will help support that other article but also allow the user to find additional highly relevant information. This can help our readers see the bigger picture of how all the pieces fit together when it comes to best practices for internal linking.
Use Footer Links Wisely
Balance is Key
Avoid overcrowding a page with too many links. Keep it user-friendly and natural. Most people only skim through web page content. They’re looking for relevant information pertaining to whatever prompted them to search. A good page layout with helpful paragraph headings, short paragraphs, short sentences, bullet points, and text links assist the visitor they scan through the page to find what they are looking for.
These strategies are great for beginners to start optimizing their website’s internal linking structure.
Discover the Power of SEO Internal Linking
To wrap up, the importance of using internal linking best practices cannot be understated. Does internal linking help SEO? Absolutely!
Implementing a strong internal linking structure ensures a smooth experience for the user and helps keep them engaged. It can also improve your site’s performance by helping the search engines understand the hierarchy and relevance of your website’s pages.
To maximize the benefits of internal linking, you need to create a cohesive and logical hierarchy that aligns with your website’s goals and user intent.
Internal Linking FAQs
What Is Internal Linking?
Internal linking involves linking from one page of your website to another relevant web page within your website. Your on-page text links, image links, or call-to-action links help guide your visitors and the search engines to other highly relevant information on your website.
What’s the difference between internal linking and external linking?
Internal links connect pages within your site to each other. External links connect your web pages to other websites. Think of internal links as hallways in your home and external links as doors leading outside.
What is an internal link audit?
A link audit is a review process of all the internal links on your website. You can use the results of the link audit to clean up dead or broken links and to optimize and improve your website’s internal linking structure.
Does internal linking help SEO?
Yes, you can use internal linking for SEO purposes including optimizing text links. Think of it like putting up signposts on your website that guide both your visitors and Google through all your pages. It’s a way of showing which pages are important and how they are connected. This not only makes your website easier to navigate but also can help improve its position in search results. So, effectively linking your pages together is a big plus for SEO!