It’s pretty clear why backlinks are important; when trustworthy websites link to yours, search engines take that as a vote of credibility. Did you know that linking to pages within your own website can help with SEO as well? If you’re ready to take advantage of internal linking to rank higher in search engines, read on!
What is internal linking?
Internal links are links on a page to other pages within the same website. The source domain as well as a the target domain are the same.
The key difference between internal links and backlinks:
Internal links communicate to search engines which pages (out of your pages) are most important, backlinks indicate which pages (out of everyone’s pages) are most important.
How Search Engines Use Internal Links
Google uses what they call “spiders” to crawl your website’s content and determine where you should be ranking. These spiders navigate by following the links included within your content.
A few ways internal links help with SEO:
- Crawling and indexing pages. The best way to ensure Google spiders will discover and index each page of your website is by including links.
- Increases page views and user experience. If users are reading content within your website and stumble upon a term they aren’t familiar with or they would like to know more about, including a link there will make it easy for them to do so. Having this internal link available will improve their user experience and increase your website’s page views. It’s a win-win.
- Decreases bounce rate. When users only view one page of your website before navigating away, this contributes to your bounce rate. Generally speaking, the lower bounce rate the better for SEO. Internal links offer an obvious path for the user to take rather than leaving your website right away.
- Increases PageRank. PageRank is a score used by Google to determine how trustworthy and relevant your website is. If you have a page that is popular already with a decent PageRank score, linking it to other related pages within your website will spread “link juice” and help their PageRank.
Internal Linking Like a Pro
Before you go adding internal links to your content willy-nilly, it’s important to consider best practices.
Using the right approaches will help you get the most bang for your buck (or rather, spread link juice appropriately) and prevent you from sending search engine spiders to the wrong places.
1. Create more content.
You guessed it, the first rule of internal linking is more content. Afterall, how can you possibly link to your own content without many pages to link to?
Creating quality content can be laborious and we’d all appreciate a short cut, but there really is no such thing unless you want to risk getting penalized with black hat SEO tactics.
Blogging is a particularly effective method for increasing your internal links. You’ll find as you continue to publish blog posts, it’ll be hard to find text that doesn’t line up with a topic you’ve already blogged about.
2. Quick, act natural.
You shouldn’t be using internal linking just for search engines. Internal links, like anything else on your website, should first and foremost exist to help your website visitors.
“If you only care to rank & not users, consider this: engines continuously optimize to think like us.” @osc_webdesign #SEO for humans
The more your internal links actually help users, the more pages they will visit and interact with. As we’ve mentioned before, this will help lower your bounce rate.
3. Link to deep pages.
When you link to pages below the top page in your website’s hierarchy (top page being the homepage) you are linking to deep pages. These tend to be more helpful for your website users and actually answer a question.
Specific, deep link: https://oscwebdesign.biz/inbound-marketing/calls-action-cta-click/
General, not a deep link: https://oscwebdesign.biz/
4. Be relevant.
Imagine that you own a small picture framing business. You probably wouldn’t link a post with tips on hanging pictures to a post about operating a small business would you?
As you continue to publish content you may look back at older posts and realize some of your internal links were a bit of a stretch. That’s okay. In the future after you’ve built up content for individual topics, those links can be changed out.
For the most part though, a good rule of thumb is if you can’t find anything relevant to link to, don’t link at all.
Internal Linking Mistakes
Not everything is fair game for internal links, or at least it shouldn’t be. Avoid the following all-too-common mistakes.
- Linking to your homepage. Your homepage is probably the most general page of your website. It serves as a welcome page for new visitors and a brief preview of your small business. Internal links are supposed to answer a specific question or relate to a term, it’s unlikely your homepage will serve that purpose.
- Inaccurate anchor text. The text you add your link to, known as anchor text, should relate to the page you’re linking to. For example, if you wanted a page to rank for the keyword ‘online movie review’ keep the following in mind.
No: I recently visited an amazing online movie review site. Click here to see it for yourself.
Yes: I recently visited an amazing online movie review site.
- Too many internal links. While there is no magic number for how many internal links you should use, you should never overdo it. Think of it this way; if each internal link passes link juice, what happens when you have too many links? The link juice is diluted and loses its effect.
Internal links may not be as powerful for SEO as high-quality backlinks are, but there’s no denying they are significant. The upside is that we have control over our internal links – unlike backlinks.