Do you know what internal links are yet? If not, it’s time to find out!
Why? Because they have an excellent impact on your SEO, and they may be exactly what your content marketing strategy is missing. Used correctly, you’ll find internal links to be valuable in more ways than one.
Here, the experts at Papaya Search define internal links for laypersons like you before explaining what they can achieve for your website and how to implement them for maximum effectiveness.
What is an internal link?
An internal link is a link that leads from one page of your website to another. They function like your website’s signposts: users can use them to navigate your website and find the content that they need.
Internal links can be very useful in generating conversions: use them effectively and you can essentially guide your website visitors through an entire sales funnel toward whatever action you want them to take.
One example of internal linking is the menu your homepage undoubtedly has. This means if someone arrives at your homepage, they can use the menu to easily locate other pages like “about” or “contact us.”
There are other types of internal links, though. An example of a contextual link is when you publish a blog post that links to another of your own related blog posts within its content.
Including these links doesn’t just help people visiting your site to find content, though; it also helps search engines to navigate your site.
Search engines crawl websites to understand them better and to index them accurately. They need to know where to find your content and what your website contains so that they can direct the right users to it, and internal links assist with this.
This explains why internal linking has such a close relationship with SEO.
What are the benefits of internal links?
Here are six excellent reasons to invest your SEO strategy with internal linking.
They improve usability
When the anchor text (the clickable words) of your internal links clearly direct to relevant content, this makes it easier for your visitors to navigate your site smoothly and find the information that they’re looking for.
They enhance the effectiveness of other links
Your SEO strategy probably includes a plan to generate backlinks from reputable websites. When they link to one of your sites but that site features internal links, then the impact of this backlink is even greater! It’s basically spreading the backlink love to your other pages, demonstrating their authority too.
They boost your page views
When there are clear signposts for your visitors to follow, you may find that they spend more time on your website, clicking through the different pages it contains. Your site conversion rate should increase as a result.
They reduce your bounce rate
When your visitors follow your internal links to peruse other pages of your website, this reduces your bounce rate. Your bounce rate reflects the number of visitors who leave your site after viewing one page only.
Your bounce rate matters because it is one of the factors that the algorithm incorporates when assessing a site’s reliability, so decreasing it is great for your SEO.
They support search engine indexing
Websites with intuitive internal architecture will guide search engine bots to discover all the pages of your website, even those that are rarely visited. When Google indexes them as a result of your links, this gives your pages a leg up in the rankings.
Why are links important to Google?
The purpose of search engines like Google is to help users find the content they need online. Users expect reliable, informative, accurate content that directly relates to their search query. If they’re repeatedly led to spam sites, for example, they will stop trusting Google as a search engine.
This is why Google has to filter the websites that it displays to users and order them based on their perceived usefulness. Link building helps the algorithm to recognize your site’s credibility. If a page receives links, whether external or internal, this communicates that the content it contains is high value.
Links also help Google to determine the relationship between the different pages of your website. This makes it easier for its bots to crawl and index the site and, by understanding exactly what content it contains, Google knows when to share it with the right users when they search certain terms.
Every page has a certain link value according to Google, but this value is shared amongst the links that are found on that page. In this way, you can intentionally direct link value toward less-visited sites in order to boost their rankings.
What’s the difference between internal links, external links, and backlinks?
As you now know, internal links are links published on your website that lead to your other pages. They’re used to make your website more navigable for visitors as well as search engine crawlers.
However, there are other ways that links can be used to boost your SEO. Read on to learn the difference between internal, external, and backlinks, and the unique benefits that they can bring to your business.
When we link to a page that doesn’t belong to our own website, this is called an external link as opposed to an internal link. These are useful when it comes to citing resources and evidencing claims.
If you want to link in a way that is beneficial to your site’s SEO, make sure that you’re linking to reputable sources. This in turn will demonstrate your own site’s authoritativeness since you’re referencing other trustworthy sources.
One of the fears that website owners have about including external links is that they could send their visitors away from their page. A great way to get around this is to set up your links so they open in new windows.
Another way an external link might serve your website is that it may encourage the owners of these websites to link back to yours in return. This is what we call a backlink.
Backlinks are the most influential type of link as far as SEO is concerned. Google’s algorithm prioritizes them because they show that a site is trustworthy and contains useful information.
However, not all backlinks are beneficial. If you receive a backlink from a questionable site, this can actually act against your SEO. Links that seem randomly inserted and don’t relate to the topic of the content arouse suspicion from the algorithm.
This is why you should value quality over quantity in the backlink aspect of your SEO strategy. Aim to generate quality backlinks: ones that have clear relevance to the content and are published by reputable sources.
Which is more important: internal links, external or backlinks?
You may be wondering which type of link is most valuable to your website. In reality, they each bring their own unique benefits. This is why your SEO strategy should incorporate all three to achieve maximum impact.
Internal links make up the internal architecture of your website and they allow users to move between your pages with ease to find the information they need. Without them, search engines couldn’t accurately crawl and index your website either, which would limit your ability to attract organic traffic.External links improve your credibility because they show that you are citing sources and researching comprehensively. This gives weight to the information that you share and makes search engines more likely to suggest your site to users. They may also be a way to organically generate backlinks from the websites you link to.
Lastly, backlinks are important because they prove to Google that your website is considered a reputable source by other people. Given that Google evaluates websites based on their expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, backlinks are extremely helpful when it comes to boosting your position in the rankings.
What is best practice when it comes to internal links?
If you’re not sure where to start with internal links, here is our advice on the best way to incorporate them into your website.
Use anchor text wisely
The anchor text is the clickable part of your content that takes visitors to another of your sites. It’s important to be strategic about the anchor text you use.
As a general guide, ensure that the anchor text reflects what the linked site is about so that Google can index it accurately. However, you must resist the urge to cram it with keywords—this can have the opposite effect on the algorithm, arousing suspicion.
Create lots of content and refresh it regularly
You can’t create internal links if you don’t have content to link to. This is where your SEO strategy and your content marketing efforts intertwine and enhance one another.
By publishing quality new content regularly and ensuring it has relevance to your pre-existing pages, you create opportunities for internal linking. The idea is to develop a web of pages that link to one another.
Link deep, but keep it relevant and natural
There’s not much point creating content that only links to your homepage. That’s your most visited page, after all! Instead, strengthen the least-visited pages of your website to boost its overall SEO.
Of course, your links need to seem natural for the visitors (and search engine bots) that are visiting your site. It’s better to create content specifically designed to include a certain link than to force that link somewhere it doesn’t belong. Yes, it’s more time and labor-intensive, but it’s ultimately more impactful.
Don’t overdo it
According to Google’s John Mueller, if you link excessively, the importance assigned to each internal link reduces in the eyes of search engines. He says:
“If you do dilute the value of your site structure by having so many internal links that we don’t see a structure anymore, then that does make it harder for us to understand what you think is important on your website.
And I think providing that relative sense of importance is sometimes really valuable because it gives you a little bit more opportunity to kind of fine-tune how you’d like to be present in the search results.”
Rather than cram one page with too many links, create more pages to feature all the links that you want to include.
Optimizing internal links: a step-by-step guide
Now, you have an in-depth understanding of internal links. However, you still may be unsure where to start when it comes to your own. Follow these steps to ensure you’re making the most of internal links.
Perform a comprehensive content audit
Your first step should be to check the content you already have and cross-reference it against your list of pages. Have you missed any opportunities to create connections between them?
Identify gaps and create a content strategy
Next, you should list the pages that lack internal links. What content could you create that would facilitate a natural link? Using these ideas, you can create a content strategy and start writing with internal links in mind.
Check your anchor text is appropriate
Lastly, look at your keyword strategy and see how you can make your anchor text as effective as possible. That means making sure that each link concisely and accurately reflects the content of the page.
How can Papaya Search help?
At Papaya Search, we are search engine marketing experts. We know all there is to know about SEO, and that includes internal linking!
We can uncover lucrative opportunities to improve your current internal linking architecture so that you see better outcomes on the search engine results page.
Creating the content to carry internal links takes time and effort, but we have experts onboard who are able to take over this work for you. That frees you up to focus on other aspects of your business.
If you want to be sure that you’re extracting as many advantages as possible from internal linking strategies, then place your trust in our team!
With our support, you’ll stay ahead of the competition and you’ll enjoy greater organic traffic thanks to improved SEO.