SEO is a delicate process that demands a lot of your time.
Guess what, internal linking improves your site’s SEO performance.
It’s something that a lot of people do, but they’re not really sure why so don’t get the most out of it.
So, how can your website win with internal linking?
What Is Internal Linking?
Before we dive into the benefits of internal linking for SEO, let’s make sure we have a clear understanding of what it actually is.
Internal linking refers to the practice of linking one page on a website to another on the same site.
They can be anything from the navigation bar at the top of a page or hyperlinks within text.
These links are typically used to connect related content and create a network of interconnected pages.
Unlike external links that point to other sites, internal links are entirely contained within your website’s domain.
Why Internal Linking Matters for SEO
Internal linking matters for several important reasons:
Improved User Experience
1. Reduced Bounce Rates:
When users go on your site, you want to keep them there to explore the content.
Internal links play a vital role in keeping users engaged by giving them relevant content suggestions.
This can help reduce bounce rates (people leaving the site quickly), which is a key SEO metric.
2. Increased Time-on-Site:
By guiding users to related articles or products, you can extend their time spent on the site.
It not only improves user experience but also sends positive signals to search engines about your content’s quality and relevance.
Enhanced Site Navigation
1. Creating Site Hierarchy:
These links help establish a hierarchy within your website.
By linking from top-level pages (About Us, Our Blog, etc) to deeper pages (Posts, Services, Products), you create a logical structure that search engines can easily crawl and understand.
2. Distributing Link Equity:
Search engines consider the number of internal links pointing to a page as an indicator of its importance.
In strategically placing internal links, you can distribute link equity (“link juice”) throughout your website.
It benefits pages that might otherwise be overlooked.
SEO Best Practices for Internal Linking
Now that we’ve seen why internal linking matters, let’s explore some of the best practices:
The Importance of Relevance
It’s important to make sure that your internal links are relevant to the content they’re embedded in.
For example, if you’re writing a blog post about digital cameras, linking to a page about car tyres isn’t relevant and can confuse readers and search engines, reducing your overall SEO.
Strategic Placement of Internal Links
1. Using Natural, Contextually Relevant Links:
Internal links should flow naturally within the content.
Avoid stuffing too many links into a single paragraph, as this can appear spammy.
Instead, insert links where they genuinely enhance the user experience.
Write the content first, and then include them, don’t write around URLs or titles.
2. Sidebar, Header, and Footer Links
While most internal links are embedded in the content, don’t forget about navigation menus, sidebars, headers, and footers.
These areas can house links to important pages, improving overall site navigation and SEO as crawlers can get around easily.
There is a difference between contextual and structural links.
Anchor Text Optimisation
1. Choosing Descriptive Text:
Anchor text is the clickable text that holds the link.
Use descriptive, keyword-rich anchor text that fits with the content, and accurately reflects the content of the linked page.
For example, instead of “Click Here” use “Learn more about digital photography” or:
If it’s within a post try something like, “… it could be useful to understand more about digital photography before moving onto editing…”
2. Avoiding Keyword Stuffing:
While it’s important to use relevant keywords in the anchor text, too many are ridiculous, and search engines penalise you for it.
It can be seen as an attempt to manipulate the search rankings, which does more harm than good.
The Role of the XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is a roadmap for search engine crawlers, it’s a visible page somewhere on your site.
It lists all the pages on your website, making it easier for search engines to find and index them.
Creating an effective sitemap and regularly updating it can aid in the indexing of your internal links.
Tools and Plugins for Internal Linking
Utilising tools and plugins can simplify the internal linking process. Some great options include:
WILO (WordPress Internal Link Optimiser):
This is a WordPress plugin that works on the front end of your site to help you find internal linking opportunities for your content.
It gives you a full rundown of internal links, link juice and more!
- YoastSEO: Shows sad faces or smiley faces depending on what you need to change, good for ticking the SEO checklist.
- Ahrefs: This provides comprehensive tools, including features for analysing your linking strategy, keywords and rankings.
Measuring the Impact of Internal Linking
You really need to make sure you’re tracking the impact of your internal linking.
Here are some methods to do it:
- Using Google Analytics: Monitor metrics like bounce rates, pageviews and time-on-site.
- SEMrush: Similar to Ahrefs, this gives you data and statistics on how pages are ranking with specific keywords, and how difficult it is to rank for them.
- Assessing Organic Traffic: Keep an eye on how your rankings and organic traffic change over time as you improve your strategies.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Internal linking has an endless list of benefits, but try not to do any of these as they could undo all your hard work:
Linking to Irrelevant Content:
Always make sure that your links lead to content that is contextually relevant to the current page.
Overloading Pages with Internal Links:
Don’t overwhelm your pages with too many internal links; this can make your content look spammy, unprofessional and confuse readers.
Ignoring Mobile Optimisation:
Given the insane amount of mobile users, make sure your links are easily clickable and accessible on different screens.
Neglecting the Importance of Anchor Text:
Avoid generic phrases and vague text, as this can weaken the relevance and impact of your internal links.
Failing to Update Internal Links:
After making content changes or reorganising your site, remember to update internal links to maintain their relevance and functionality.
Internal linking is one of the best routes to get high-ranking pages.
As long as you follow our tips and don’t overdo it, there shouldn’t be any problems.
To speed things up, try out WILO, the plugin to solve all your internal linking issues.
SEO is a long process, the sooner you start routinely linking, the sooner you’ll start to see results.