Sometimes, internal linking is overlooked within the general SEO strategy. We get too busy listing keywords, pushing for backlinks or editing meta titles; and often forget how essential it is to build a clear, pleasant navigation structure through our content.
But if you’re not ensuring proper internal linking, then you’re dismissing a lot of your website’s potential. Internal linking can boost all your other SEO efforts, when done right. In this post, we’ll learn a few guidelines to get started in the underestimated art of internal linking.
What is internal linking?
Internal linking is the practice of linking one page in your website to other pages or URLs in your website. For example, a top menu on your homepage, redirecting people to different sections or topics, is a form of internal linking. Adding relevant links within a blog post, to other interesting content in your blog; is another example (contextual links).
Internal linking is important because:
- It improves the general SEO optimization of your website and helps all your other strategies to become more effective.
- It is a message to search engines and spiders to understand the architecture of your site.
- It increases the amount of time that users spend on your website.
- It helps users to navigate easily and comfortably within your content.
- It is a way of organizing and highlighting your best content.
6 tips for internal linking
1. Work on your content strategy
Internal linking goes hand in hand with a good content strategy. If you don’t have enough (good) content to start with, there won’t be much to link anyways.
The best content strategy covers both quantity and quality. You need to establish what content the reader wants and anticipate what content the reader needs. It’s only after that, that you will work on making this content more visible and more available.
2. Design a clear structure for your website
Navigational links are a very important part of internal linking. Visualize the structure of your website and find the paths that need to be made clear for the user. Then you’ll create the navigation journey based on that.
3. Find out what they want to read
After doing your homework and listing your relevant keywords (which is vital for SEO in the first place), you’ll get a pretty good idea of which information the user is trying to access.
Remember that internal linking should create a reader-experience that feels natural. The link shouldn’t feel forced, and both of the pages linked need to be relevant to one another.
4. Use anchor texts to your advantage
The link text is the first impression that users get from that second page before they even click. It should be clear and attractive, but at the same time descriptive and relevant. There’s no need to over-optimized anchor texts with stuffed keywords (this could even play against you).
5. Do not add contextual links to the homepage
No need to add more links to the homepage. Chances are that your website already has enough homepage links. Taking the reader back could feel like a dead end, or like asking them to start their journey from the beginning all over again. Instead, take every opportunity to take the reader deeper and deeper into the content of your site.
6. Remember there is no magic number
With internal links, there is always the question: how much is too much? Any reputable expert or blog is going to say the same: There is no right number when it comes to internal linking. If you put relevancy into perspective, the number of links should feel intuitive.
One thing is important to know: Google won’t rank your site if it has more than 150 links (including all navigation links like header, navigation bar, footer, etc). As for contextual links, it depends on the length of the text (some say 10 per 2000 words) but then again, this should come intuitively.
As a last piece of advice, remember internal linking is not something you do once and then forget about it. You need to keep adding new links, adding new content, updating or removing broken links, etc. This is a permanent job!