Since backlinks are considered the king of hyperlink based search engine optimisation (SEO) too many developers and marketers completely neglect their internal linking strategy. Internal linking may not be as flashy as its inbound cousin, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an incredibly important tool for SEO.
Internal links are the links that direct users around your website – instead of to another website. Just like outbound links they feature a target – the page the link directs users to – and anchor text – the text that actually displays on the page.
So what? You may ask. Why is it important for to link between parts of my site? How could that possibly help my SEO?
The SEO powers of internal linking are a bit of a black magic. Google has never been particularly clear as to why internal linking is as beneficial as it is; but we do have some theories.
The Spiders Web
The way Google learns about your website – it’s content, it’s themes, it’s authority, etc. – is through spiders. Google sends out these crawlers to traverse your website using the site’s hyperlinks – following every link they comes across. The more pages Google can find, the better it’s understanding of the themes and content of your site. This knowledge in turn, will boost your search engine rank (SERP).
In a similar vein, internal linking can help Google understand which pages on your site are important. It’s important to look at SEO as a page-by-page prospect – you’re not ranking your whole site, just certain pages. If you have a number of hyperlinks to a specific page – all with different anchor texts – this tells Google that this page is important enough to be linked multiple times and that they should rank it higher.
Good internal linking has a similar impact on human users as well; on a basic level it makes the site easier to navigate. However, did you know that user experience could affect your SEO?
How users interact with a site is one of the many signals Google uses to determine a website’s quality. If user behaviour implies a positive experience then Google will mark this search result as quality and will continue to show that result. If statistics indicate a negative experience however, the result may be marked as unhelpful for that query and Google will adjust the search results accordingly. It’s important to make sure your internal linking structure is beneficial to your users as well as Google’s search engine spiders.
Internal Linking in Practise
After reading this I hope you’re excited to get out there and start linking all of your pages together. Though before you do that there are some best practises that you should follow.
Firstly, you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got a good amount of content to link to in the first place, simply linking back and forth between a small number of pages doesn’t help anyone.
Once you’ve got your content, make sure you’re using relevant and contextual anchor text for the page you’re linking to – image links are fine but make sure they’re complimenting your text based links, not replacing them. It’s also important to make sure that all of your links to a specific page don’t have the same anchor text. This could be interpreted as automated spam, which will have the opposite of the intended effect and can damage your SERP.
So now you know how best to create a link, where should you be linking too? To get the most out of your site you need to link deep and wide – linking to top-level navigation pages like the homepage or contact page is not recommended. Get users and search engine spiders as far into your website as possible without it feeling artificial. Links should always add value and make sense within their context, There’s no point in linking a page on Goldfish from a page on motorcycles for example.
Internal linking is a long game, one that develops naturally over time as you add more content and create new links. There are however certain tools available to make the whole process a little easer. Tools like CI Backlinks can automate the internal linking process, but in a way that adds links to your existing content – rather than stuffing your site with spammy and out of context links.
CI Backlinks was developed by us in partnership with ezSEONews founder Dr Andy Williams and is designed to create a high quality internal linking structure in a fraction of the time. Using CI Backlinks to optimise their internal linking approach, users have reported huge jumps in organic SERP – in some cases going from #200 all the way up to #16 on Google!
So before you start chasing high profile back links, give a thought as to whether you could improve your own internal linking. It’s just as important and it’s something you have full control over!
If you’d like to learn more about internal linking or content strategies or would like to chat about how we can help your business in general, then why not get in touch? Contact us on 0121 321 2828 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.