Internal links for SEO: what are they and why are they important? 

Internal links are an essential part of any SEO strategy. They help users and Google understand how your website and content is connected and can help to boost your rankings. Read more in our guide.

Internal links connect the content on your website and show both users and Google how your website is structured. This will help you to make sure your content is ranked highly in the search engines and found by customers when they’re searching for your products and services.  

When you create content for your website, if you want people to find it online, you will need to optimise it for SEO (search engine optimisation). Internal links are a major ranking factor so you will need to link your content before it can rank in the search engines. 

Let’s have a look at what internal links are and why they’re important. 

What are internal links? 

Internal links connect one page of your website to another. These links are used by both website visitors and search engines to navigate through the content on your website. Neither users nor search engines will be able to find a page if there are no links to it. 

Internal links are helpful for three reasons: 

  1. They allow users to navigate your website 
  2. They help to establish an information hierarchy for your website 
  3. They help to spread link equity (ranking power) around websites 

Types of internal links 

There are different types of internal links that it’s important to be aware of. 

Navigational internal links - these are the links that make up your website’s navigational structure. This is often implemented across your full site and will help your website users (and Google!) find what they need and understand your site. Navigation makes navigating around your site as easy as possible. 

Contextual internal links - these are placed within the main body content of the pages on your website. For example, within a blog piece, you might link out to other blog pieces or product pages to help lead customers further through the customer journey. 

Make sure you think about how prominent and clickable the links are so that they add value to your content. Make sure any contextual links are clear and obvious as use natural anchor text. 

Knowing the difference between the types of links and how they work for your site can help you to get the most from your internal linking strategy, and your SEO strategy as a whole. 

Why are internal links important for SEO? 

Internal links should always be included within your SEO strategy. They help search engines to understand your site, help users find their way around - all of which contributes to how well your site ranks in the search engines.

Makes your content discoverable in the search results 

Search engines such as Google use internal links to find new content and deliver it to users in the search results. A post or page with a number of links pointing to it signals to Google that it is an essential or high value article and this will boost your SEO strategy. 

If you publish a new page on your website and don’t link to it from anywhere on your page and it doesn’t exist on your sitemap, Google won’t know it exists and web crawlers won’t be able to find it. This means the page won’t be displayed when your customers are searching. 

Pages with no internal links are known as orphan pages and are unlikely to be appear anywhere. 

Allows Google to understand your website 

Following links allows Google to work out the relationship between the pages, posts and other content on your website. It helps Google to learn more about which pages link to each other and the different topics on your website. 

Links on your website group related pages and sections together like departments within a company. This helps to demonstrate your authority on the various topics on your website. 

According to Google

“Some pages are known because Google has already crawled them before. Other pages are discovered when Google follows a link from a known page to a new page.” 

If you don’t show Google how your content is connected, your users won’t make the connections either. 

Internal links pass authority 

Adding internal links on your website helps to pass authority between the pages on your site which can help to improve your SEO rankings. Google’s PageRank algorithm assesses the authority of individual pages on your website and applies a value to the page. 

A page that has a range of high quality external links pointing to it will build up a high PageRank score. The authority of these pages can then be passed onto the smaller pages with less authority that you link to from this page. 

Helps users navigate between relevant pages 

Links are one of the best ways to improve the user experience of your site and lead visitors to more interesting content. If you link within your content, linking might involve leading readers to product pages where they can buy something that you’ve mentioned within the content or to another piece of relevant content. 

This can help to increase the average time on site and help to lead visitors down the path to purchase - all of which are good for your SEO strategy and overall search performance. 

Best practices for your internal linking strategy 

If you want to make sure your internal links are as effective as possible, there are a number of best practice tips you can follow. 

Plan the ideal structure for your site 

The way you structure your site will have an impact on how effective your internal linking strategy is. Think of your website as a pyramid - at the top of the pyramid is your homepage and underneath are the individual pages and posts that make up your site. 

Determine the most important content for your site

Think about the content that is most important to your website. This should be the best and complete content that forms the core of your business. This is the content you want potential customers to find when they’re searching for your products or services. 

These pages should have the most external and internal links to signal to Google that this is your most important content. The page will rank highly and will help to pass authority over to less prominent pages on your site. 

Add contextual links to your content 

When you create blog posts or articles about particular topics related to your business, you should link them together. This shows Google and your users that the pieces are topically related. 

Add links within sentences to the content or just add links at the end of your post in a related content section. Show Google which articles are your cornerstone content and link to the piece in every post you create. 

Use keyword-rich anchor text 

When adding links, avoid using phrases such as ‘click here’ and ‘read more’ and use keyword rich text in your links. So, if you’re linking to a specific product, link the product’s name. This is a strategy recommended by Google. 

Anchor text helps website visitors and Google to understand the topic of the page you’re linking to and how it relates to the piece of content. 

Make sure you don’t use the same anchor text for two different pages on your website. This will confuse Google’s algorithms and they will think both pages are related to the same topic. Make sure you use different descriptive anchor text for each page on your site. 

Integrate SEO tactics into your content strategy 

When creating content, if you keep SEO best practice in your mind, you will naturally create content that’s perfect for internal linking. 

Always consider your target audience, their pain points and the journey they’re going to take to convert. What answers do they need and how can you solve their problems? Think about the search terms they’re using in Google and the intent behind these keywords. How do you need to format your content to meet these needs? 

Create topic clusters 

Topic clusters are related buckets of content that cover broader topics. Your topic clusters will be made of one pillar page that covers content around one topic and supporting cluster pages will go into much more detail. 

These clusters form hubs of relevant content and forms a great way to link pieces of content internally. 

Prioritise the relevant of your links over the location 

You may see some articles recommending that you add links as soon as you can in the content. But, if you place the links unnaturally to make sure they appear higher up on the page, it can affect user experience and will affect the authority of your content. 

If you’d like to learn more about internal linking and SEO strategies for business growth, please sign up to our monthly newsletter

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Blog written by

Amy Ward