Internal linking is one of many ways to improve a website’s SEO. Internal links are links on your pages that direct visitors to other pages on your website. The purpose of this strategy is to help internet users navigate your website and make it easier for search engines understand its structure.
Internal linking isn’t complicated, but it needs to be done in a specific way in order to improve your SEO. In this article, our SEO agency experts give you ways to optimize your internal linking.
- What is internal linking?
- Why optimize your internal linking?
- How to optimize internal linking
- Internal linking to optimize your SEO
What is internal linking?
By definition, internal linking refers to all the links made between pages of the same website. For example, you are currently reading an article on our website that has links inserted to provide more information on topics such as SEO strategies (this is an internal link!). Internal links enable internet users and search engines to navigate from one page to another on the same website.
Creating internal links may seem unimportant, because well-designed websites usually have menus and sub-menus that lead to the site’s various pages. The links in these menus are also considered internal links.
However, newly created web pages and articles may not be added to a menu immediately. In the meantime, it will be difficult for internet users who don’t know the exact URL to find the page. Therefore, when you create a new page, it’s important to make sure it can be found and accessed easily (unless you think it adds no value to your website – but in that case, why create it in the first place? 🤔).
For example, a website with hundreds of thousands of products such as Amazon must be extremely well-organized so that visitors can find the products they’re looking for. That’s partly why Amazon has so many categories and sub-categories.
As you can see, internal linking and page navigation are things you need to start thinking about from the moment you create your website.
Why optimize your internal linking?
Internal links are a way to encourage internet users to stay on a website longer. If there are multiple links on every page that make it easier for internet users to navigate to what interests them, they will spend more time on your website and Google will notice it more.
Internal links also boost your SEO by improving your domain authority. They transmit “link juice” from one page to another.
- Page authority (PA) and domain authority are scores search engines give pages and entire domains based on their popularity and credibility. MozBar is a tool that allows you to see these scores directly on Google results pages.
If a page is considered authoritative, internal links on that page can benefit from its authority to rank better on search engines. For example, if you have a page with a PA of 50 and you have 100 internal links on that page, each link will benefit from an equal part of the page’s authority (50/100=0.5). The more links you have on the page, the smaller their portion of link juice will be, so consider that when deciding how many links to put on your pages.
As you can see, internal linking can improve the ranking of every page on a website.
How to optimize internal linking
Optimizing your internal linking isn’t just a question of including links on your pages. In fact, we recommend that you avoid including too many links on one page, because search engine robots generally can’t analyze more than 250 links per page (a 250-link limit still gives you quite a bit of room to maneuver 🙃).
So, choose your links carefully and use our 5 tips below for best results!
1. Insert links in a natural way
Every link that you include on your website needs to be inserted in a natural way. Both internal and external links must bring added value to your page and provide visitors with more information on a particular topic. Let’s use this article as an example. Since our current topic is internal linking, we’re not going to insert a link about the weather or real estate (unless weather is explicitly mentioned in the article for some reason and adds value to the content).
Here is a link that’s not natural considering the content:
“My Little Big Web is a Montreal-based agency that offers web design and marketing services…”
As you can see, this sentence, and our agency in general, are not in any way related to a website about factories and heavy industry. This is an example of an unnatural link that has nothing to do with the services our agency offers.
You may think this is obvious and goes without saying, but some people will do anything to insert links on their website, even if they make no sense. We advise against including unnatural links, because they may get your website penalized by Google.
2. Choose relevant links
In addition to being natural, links should also be relevant to your content. For argument’s sake, let’s say that your website has a page dedicated to dancing and another that’s all about cars. These two pages don’t need to be linked, because they won’t give visitors more information about the topic they’re interested in.
However, if you have a page about hip hop, that might be a relevant link to include on your dancing page.
As you can see on this blog post, every link we have inserted brings added value, providing more information about the topic mentioned in the anchor text. These links provide visitors with access to complementary articles about reasons for using an SEO agency, as well as our SEO agency, web marketing and SEO strategy pages.
3. Use all of the content on your website
With internal linking, the idea is to link pages on a website to one another as much as possible. It’s best to use all of the content on your website for maximum effect. The best way to keep building internal links is to have a blog. Writing articles on topics that are relevant to your website will give you lots of opportunities to insert natural links. Having a blog and updating it regularly are essential aspects of SEO, because Google likes websites that are kept up to date.
As you can see below, we update our articles regularly in order to insert new links to articles that have been posted more recently.
In addition to linking blog articles to one another, you can also insert links to service pages and your home page. Having a blog is a great way to create internal links on an ongoing basis.
In order to create optimal internal links for your pages, the writers who work on your website will need to be familiar with all of your content.
4. Choose the right anchor text
When inserting a link on a web page, it’s important to pay attention to the anchor text you use. The anchor text lets both visitors and search engines know what the link is about.
Here is an example of anchor text. If we take a look at the HTML code of this link, we see that the words “SEO audit” link to our audit service page.
Search engines are getting better and better at understanding the semantics of content and links. Robots can now analyze the text surrounding a link as well as the anchor text itself. That means that even if the anchor text doesn’t match a keyword perfectly, Google will understand the topic of the link based on the context (the text around the link). Therefore, it’s a good idea to be precise and vary anchor text that leads to the same page. If multiple internal links to a given page have similar anchor text, Google might deem the content over-optimized and penalize it. On the other hand, varied anchor text gives the page in question a better chance of ranking on search engines.
5. Insert “dofollow” and “nofollow” links
As explained at the beginning of the article, one of the main advantages of internal linking is that the link juice from each link contributes to increasing a page’s authority. Note that links must be dofollow for link juice to be transmitted. Dofollow is an attribute that lets search engines know that you want the link followed and link juice transmitted.
Conversely, a nofollow link indicates to search engines that you don’t want the link to have any influence. This is a method to consider when adding external links, as it prevents search engines from thinking that you’re selling links on your website. But in order to optimize your internal linking, your own internal links should always be dofollow.
Internal linking to optimize your SEO
Internal linking is an essential aspect of SEO. However, it’s important to use care and moderation to avoid getting penalized by Google. So, keep your number of internal links reasonable and choose them carefully.
Note that internal linking is not enough by itself—inbound links are very important as well. We recommend having a good link building strategy in order to obtain backlinks and improve your SEO.