If you’ve ever delved into the world of SEO, you might have come across the concept of site architecture and internal links.
We’ve previously touched on the subject of web links, but this blog is going to be dedicated to the internal variety.
You’ll find out what internal links are, the best practices required for using them and how – ultimately – they can help drive traffic to your site.
OK, let’s dive in.
Internal links go from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain.
They may be used in the main navigation menu or the page's content.
Alternatively, external links point to another domain. This includes links from a page on your site to another site and links pointing from other sites to your site (also called backlinks).
Internal links are a really important part of SEO because they help illustrate a page’s importance.
If you were a child of the 90s, you might remember friendship bracelets.
The most popular kids in school had the most bracelets, right?
Well, internal links work in a similar way.
They tell search engines that pages on websites must be important based on the number of quality (read relevant) internal links.
That’s right: there’s little point cramming in links here, there and everywhere with little regard to the content of said URLs. We’ll talk more about best practices shortly.
When done correctly, internal links can pass on valuable link juice and potentially boost a page’s web traffic.
Link juice is a general term used in SEO.
It refers to the value being passed on from one site (or one page) to another through hyperlinks.
The more popular – or high ranking – a page is, the more link juice can be passed on that can benefit the URL it has linked to.
To use the analogy from above: a high five in the playground from a classmate with 50 friendship bracelets is going to mean more social cachet than from a classmate with only three.
Harsh but true.
Best SEO Practice For Internal Links
Let’s look at some of the best practices for using internal links to their full potential.
Bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ dilemma here.
In order to create internal links, you need content to link to.
Therefore it’s really important to have good, quality content that allows you to create an internal linking structure.
Anchor text is the copy on your webpage that is used as a hyperlink to the other relevant page.
You will have seen many different examples of anchor text during your life searching the web.
Some of the poorer ones include:
- To find out more, click here.
- More information can be found here: www.example.com
That’s right, some people do actually paste the URL into the page content.
While the examples above do work (technically), they are a bit of a wasted opportunity.
Good anchor text should be natural (i.e. it should flow within the context of the sentence it’s included in), descriptive and contextual.
Users should be left in no doubt about what the internal link will take them to.
Misleading your site visitors could cost you.
Take this example of BAD anchor texting:
Think of the little guys.
Let's say you're a security alarm company: there’s little point linking an article about the benefits of CCTV Monitoring to your homepage.
Your homepage gets a lot of love from pretty much all your other pages.
Is there a relevant service page for CCTV Monitoring? Great – that’s where you should be sharing the internal link love.
And once your article links to it, don’t forget to add an internal link FROM your relevant service page. This internal linking is a two-way street.
Can there really be too much of a good thing?
Well, when it comes to internal links, yes!
While there’s no officially-documented limit, you do need to exercise an element of common sense. Too many links on a page can be a bit overwhelming.
Does that blog post on construction drying really need 257 internal links? Can they all be relevant and contextual and offer your visitors a better User Experience?
Internal links placed high up on a webpage increase the time spent on the web page and reduce the bounce rate.
When you add an internal link at the beginning of an article, people will have something to check out right away.
This will keep them hooked to your site for a longer time. Of course, you need to distribute your internal links throughout the content of your web page but adding one or two links at the top never hurts.
Internal links are important because they can help Google understand and rank your website better.
By giving Google links to follow along with descriptive anchor text, you can indicate to Google which pages of your site are important, as well as what they are about.
Together with a well-optimised page, this can have a very real impact on your organic rankings.
Internal links are also good for user experience and may improve engagement.
If your internal links are providing site visitors with additional information that they will genuinely find useful, then they’ll stick around.
They’ll browse your site, and see what else you’ve got that might interest them.
And the longer they browse, the more chance you have that:
a. You can sell them whatever you’re selling
b. Google will show you some love
Internal links are a vital part of any SEO strategy.
They are the friendship bracelets of the online world. They tell search engines like Google how popular individual pages are.
The more popular a page, the higher it will appear on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
And, lest we forget about the human visitors.
They, too, will appreciate a good internal link as it will enhance their overall experience of your website.
With relevant and contextual anchor text, internal links can keep people browsing for longer. And the longer they browse, the better it will be for your site and business.
If you would like help with any of your SEO needs, contact Orca today.