Are you tired of your website feeling lonely and ignored by search engines? Well, it’s time to give it some love and attention with the powerful benefits of internal linking! But seriously, internal linking is an important aspect of search engine optimization (SEO) that can have a big impact on the success of your website.
So let’s get to linking and boost those rankings, improve usability, and drive targeted traffic to your website. Ready to get started? Great, let’s dive into the world of internal linking and see what it can do for you!
Table of Contents
- What do we mean by linking pages internally?
- What is internal navigation and how it differs from internal page links
- Reasons for internal linking
- Internal vs external links
- Benefits of Internal linking for SEO
- Internal linking is an underused SEO strategy
- Why is internal linking underused?
- The reason you should prioritise internal linking
- Nofollow internal links
- Final Thoughts
What do we mean by linking pages internally?
Internal linking means including links to other pages on your site within an article. This is different from navigation links, breadcrumbs links or sidebar links. The links need to be in the article. More on internal navigation later.
John Mueller (Google employee) answering if internal linking was important:
It’s something where internal linking is super critical for SEO.
I think it’s one of the biggest things you can do on a website to kind of guide Google and guide visitors to the pages that you think are important.
– Google’s John Mueller
What is internal navigation and how it differs from internal page links
If you want your website to be successful, it’s crucial to have a clear and effective internal navigation system in place. Internal navigation refers to the links and menus within your website that allow users to find and access different pages and content. This is different from internal links within the body of a blog article or website page.
A well-designed internal navigation system can help improve the user experience, increase engagement, and boost your search engine rankings.
Let’s describe the kind of internal navigation links commonly found on websites.
Top level navigation links
Nearly all websites have top level navigation links. They usually include product/service links for business websites or category links for blogging websites. An example below is from this website:
This not only helps new visitors to the website easily find content, it also helps search engines crawl your website and find new content to index.
You can add internal navigation links to your sidebar. Here is an example from this website.
You can add multiple sections of internal navigation, other navigation links commonly found on sidebars:
- category links
- tag links
- archives (post grouped by month and year)
- social media links
- blogroll (other blogs visitors might be interested in)
Depending on the website theme you may add more navigation links to the footer. Once a visitor has scrolled to the footer they are about to leave your site. The footer provides the last opportunity for you to keep the visitor on your site so it’s common to find links to content here.
Benefits of internal navigation links
Helps users find the information they are looking for quickly and easily.
Boosts your search engine rankings. Organizing your content into categories and subcategories helps search engines understand the hierarchy and importance of your pages.
Drives targeted traffic to specific pages on your website. Direct users to the most relevant and valuable information, increasing the chances that they will engage with your content and ultimately convert into customers.
Reasons for internal linking
You can link to content that you think is important. It could earn you more money or improve areas where you are weaker than a competitor website. Navigation links typically link to a group of articles, such as a category, tag, or date range. Internal linking allows you to directly link to other important articles within your site.
Look at internal links in a strategic way.
How do you want to steer users through your website?
What content do you want to steer them towards?
Whatever content you care about most link to it from other parts of your site.
Internal vs external links
Both are important, so it’s not one or the other, your content should use both.
Use external links to:
- provide additional information and resources for readers
- help establish credibility and authority by citing sources
- improve SEO by signaling to search engines the relevance and quality of the content
- build relationships with other industry experts and thought leaders
- provide a more well-rounded and comprehensive view on a topic by incorporating a diverse range of perspectives
Benefits of Internal linking for SEO
Here are some of the benefits to adding internal links to your site:
- More user friendly site. Internal links makes it easier for the user to move around your site.
- Crawling and indexing improved. Search engines will better understand your site and the connections between different pages. This helps them properly index your pages and can increase the likelihood of them appearing in SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).
- More time on site. Users are more likely to read other pages on your site due to your internal links.
- Increase the number of keywords your pages rank for. Using anchor texts with more keywords, different keyword phrasing and synonyms will mean your pages ranks for more keywords.
- Decrease the bounce rate. The longer visitors stay on your site the lower the bounce rate, or the percentage of visitors who leave a website after only viewing one page.
- More low competition keywords. Internal links with anchor text containing three words or more are considered long tail or low competition keywords. Read more here: find low competition keywords.
- Your competitors are not fully using internal links. Most sites do not make proper use of internal linking on their sites, by using them you will gain a competitive advantage.
Internal linking is an underused SEO strategy
Good internal linking will improve topic authority.
According to inLinks, based on a study of 5112 websites, 82% of Internal Linking Opportunities are missed.
InLinks uses software to automate internal linking between pages, they compared a sample of websites to see how many fully took the opportunity to use internal linking, 82% of websites failed to use internal linking properly.
Why is internal linking underused?
It is difficult to remember all your previous content on your site so you may not realise a good internal link opportunity exists when writing new content.
If content is not targeted on a single topic it may not provide a good opportunity for internal linking. For SEO, it pays to be tightly focused on one topic or keyword per article so the page becomes a good target for linking. Overly broad content can be difficult to link to, because it targets multiple topics or keywords, causing google to rank multiple of your pages for a single search term.
The reason you should prioritise internal linking
The larger the site the more difficult it will be for visitors to find the information they are looking for. Important content could be buried deep down beneath a category, sub-category and so on. Finding it from navigation links could be difficult.
By linking to important content on your site from other articles, not just navigation links, visitors are more likely to see and read it.
Nofollow internal links
Nofollowing internal links can help with crawl speed because Google doesn’t crawl nofollow links.
Before Google indexes your website pages it must first “crawl” or process your website, page by page. This obviously takes time depending on the size of your website and how fast each page loads. Google allocates a crawl budget, the amount of time it will spend crawling your site. Once that budget is used up it will not process any more pages in that session.
For pages you know you don’t want indexed (such as contact forms etc) consider adding “nofollow” to those pages in your internal navigation.
[Google] will continue to use these internal nofollow links as a sign that you’re telling us:
- These pages are not as interesting
- Google doesn’t need to crawl them
- They don’t need to be used for ranking, for indexing.”
– Google’s John Mueller
A quick summary of the benefits of internal linking for your website or blog:
- internal linking is a powerful tool for SEO that can improve your search engine rankings
- increase the usability of your site, and drive targeted traffic to your pages
- maximize the potential of your website and increase its success
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