To excel in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), you need more than just a great content strategy and a passion for keywords. A strong SEO strategy also relies on the use of links. Google finds and explores pages on a website based on links, and the connections between your pages can make a massive difference to your site’s appeal.
Most linking strategies fall into two categories: external linking and internal linking. While external links connect your pages to other websites, internal links link the various pages within your site.
Today, we’ll look closely at internal linking and why it’s crucial to any solid SEO campaign.
Defining Internal Links: The Basics
An internal link is any hyperlink on your website which connects one page to another within your domain. For instance, if you post a blog where you’re talking about SEO, and you link the word “keyword search” to a keyword searching tool on your website, that’s an internal link.
Both users and search engines leverage internal links to navigate your website. Users click on internal links to take them to pages they’re interested in learning more about, like a contact page or product page. Search engines use internal links to see which pages on your website are connected contextually and map your site’s overall structure.
There are several kinds of internal links on any site. For instance, your navigation bar on your website is filled with internal links from your homepage to other pages. You can also add links to carousels on product pages to highlight related items to potential customers.
When links are included within your content (blog posts and website copy), they’re usually referred to as “contextual” links. Organising the links throughout your website correctly helps users to use your website while ensuring Google can find, index, and understand your pages.
How to Set up an Internal Linking Strategy
All business websites should have an internal linking strategy for SEO. Think of it like giving Google a map of your domain, complete with connected pathways between related topics. With an internal linking strategy, you can ensure Google understands the relationship between pages, the value of those pages, and their relevance.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for achieving excellent rankings with internal links, the following steps will help put you on the right path:
- Determine your site structure: Before you start linking pages, you need to know your website’s structure from a practical perspective. Think of it like a pyramid. On the top, you have your homepage; under that, there are specific sections, like your product pages, contact page and blog posts. Further down, we see individual product categories and blog posts. Knowing your site structure will help you determine where links make sense.
- Find your crucial content: Next, find your cornerstone content. This is the most complete and critical content relevant to your business. Because you want Google to know this content is valuable to your website and readers, you’ll enjoy many links connected. For instance, you could write an extensive cornerstone guide about UCaaS and link to countless pages discussing collaboration tools, video conferencing, and VoIP.
- Look for context: Whenever you’re producing new content for your website, it’s important to consider how it might link to other contextual pages. If you’ve written various articles which have a similar audience, they should be connected by internal links. For instance, it makes sense for your SEO blog to link to your page about content writing or keyword research.
- Link hierarchical pages: If your site has hierarchical pages, it makes sense to child and parent pages. For example, a guide to email marketing might link to various reviews about your favourite email marketing tools. Make sure there’s a connection between the related pages on your website.
- Create value-added links: Aside from linking anchor text within your content to specific relevant pages, you can add extra value to pages and posts with additional links. For instance, you could link to related items people usually buy together on a product page. You might include a section of “related” posts on a blog post at the bottom of the page for people who want to learn more. This helps to keep readers on your site.
- Remember navigational links: Navigational links can be important too. For instance, you can link to your website’s most critical product and content pages from your homepage, so it’s easier for search engines and customers to find the things they need to know most immediately.
No-Follow Links and Anchor Text
Before beginning your internal linking strategy, you may need to know two more things: Nofollow links and anchor text.
Nofollow links or tags are essentially something you add to a page on your website which asks Google not to follow the link. This lets Google know which of the links in your website aren’t particularly important for SEO purposes.
However, adding a no-follow tag doesn’t mean that target pages aren’t visible in the Google Search results. To ensure a page didn’t appear in the search results, you’d add a “noindex” tag instead.
Anchor texts are the critical text you place a hyperlink on for Google and users to follow. It’s the clickable text your users see. For instance, if you were going to link to a page about “anchor text” on your website, you’d place the URL over those two words.
Google advises using relevant anchor text to ensure your audience knows exactly what they’re getting by clicking onto another page. However, remember that it’s never a good idea to “keyword stuff” these links, as this can cause your page to be penalised by Google.
Master internal links, no-follow links, and anchor text; your SEO strategy will generate new results in no time.