How to Maximise Internal Linking
Internal linking is essential for optimal site performance and search engine optimisation (SEO). It’s what drives visitors to navigate from one part of your website to another. It also affects your search engine results page (SERP) ranking.
That’s why having an internal linking strategy is crucial. Sure, you can add links to your content without much thought behind it and still perform well. However, without a strategic approach, you’re likely wasting a golden opportunity to boost SEO and overall site performance.
Many bloggers, businesses, and content creators maximise internal linking with the help of technical SEO agencies. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it on your own, though. Keep reading if you want to learn how to establish an internal linking strategy that gets results and:
- Streamline the hierarchy of your website
- Improve link value
- Enhance SEO performance
- Drive more traffic to your website
Table of contents
- What Are Internal Links?
- What is Link Value?
- 10 Ways to Maximise Internal Linking
- Key Takeaways
What Are Internal Links?
Whether you’re an experienced SEO or a novice, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on the basics. An internal link is a hyperlink that connects one page on your website to a different page. Search engines and website visitors alike use links to explore and find content on your site. Here are three primary purposes of internal linking:
- Helps users navigate your website
- Defines your website structure
- Distributes ranking power and page authority
There are various types of internal links. Besides links on your homepage or menu, you can also add internal links within the content. These are called “contextual links” and they direct users to related content they may find interesting. Search engines like Google crawl websites by following external and internal links to:
- Discover new content on your website
- Understand the relationship between pieces of content
- Find out which internal pages and posts are topically related
- Determine the value of such content and rank it in the search results
An important page will likely receive more internal links, signaling to search engines that it’s more valuable than other pages on your website. That’s why a strategic internal linking approach is crucial. When executed properly, it can boost SEO performance.
What is Link Value?
Link value, also known as “link juice” or “link equity” is an SEO term. It refers to the value that a page (or site) passes to another page via a hyperlink. Google and other search engines distribute link value among all the links on a particular website.
For example, a website’s homepage usually houses the most backlinks. As such, it will have the highest link value. Search engines then share this link value between all the links found on that homepage.
In turn, the link value that passed to another page is divided between the links on that page, and so on and so forth. As such, linking your newest pieces of content or blog posts to your homepage will get them more link value than linking to a category page alone. Plus, Google finds new posts faster this way.
Essentially, links pass their link value on. More internal links to a post equal more value for that page and better chances of ranking. Therefore, an optimum internal linking structure enhances the overall SEO value of a website.
10 Ways to Maximise Internal Linking
The good news about all this is that, as a site owner, you control your internal linking process. With the right internal links and a strategic approach you can guide Google and your visitors to the most important pages on your website. Here are ten ways to help you accomplish that.
1. Pursue Engagement
As mentioned, adding internal links helps users find other relevant blog posts or pages that they’ll likely find interesting. In turn, this improves your engagement metrics. If you’re including links for the sake of SEO alone, are you really adding value to your website page?
Google also measures what people are clicking on and allocates more value to those links. Therefore, engagement should be at the top of your priority list and placement plays a major role in this aspect.
If you’re habitually putting links at the very bottom of your blog posts, then chances are that people aren’t clicking on them. There’s no hard and fast rule. However, it’s generally best practice to place your internal links towards the top half of your page.
You’ll know your internal links are actually working when you analyse your engagement metrics, so be sure to do this regularly too.
2. Create Lots of Linkable Content
Naturally, you can’t have internal links without content, so you’ll need a strategy for both. There are countless intricate formulas on the internet but these aren’t necessarily required for internal linking. As long as your content has the following qualities, you’ll have lots of internal linking opportunities:
While internal linking should occur naturally, you can still create content that helps this happen. There are loads of online tools from Ahrefs, Moz, and others websites that can come in handy here. Find one that extracts keywords. Next, follow these steps to help you come up with content ideas that’ll provide internal linking opportunities.
- Choose a keyword
- Extract relevant phrases and keywords
- Select the ones with a high search volume
- Product high-quality content with long-tail keywords
- Link to related pages or posts
3. Strive For Topical Relevance
A link that’s less topically relevant passes reduced value, thus affecting SEO and SERPs. When you publish a new page, make sure that you only interlink it to the most relevant pages. This tactic helps get the correct pages ranked.
Besides engagement metrics, you can use an online tool to find out which pages on your website rank the highest for a given keyword. That way, you’ll be able to interlink your new blog post to the best page on your website.
4. Avoid Over-Optimisation
Google can usually detect over-optimisation and keyword stuffing, especially on a new website that’s trying to manipulate rankings. If you want to avoid SERP penalties, your content and your internal links need to be natural and unique.
Some SEOs use a combination of exact match anchor text and partial match anchor text. However, your best bet is to use natural words and language. Google values authentic content and links more than forced keywords and unnatural anchor texts.
5. Always Add Context
A piece of relevant text alone isn’t the best way to add an internal link. However, by adding context around the text, you’re letting Google know it’s relevant. You’ll also draw your readers’ attention to it as well. An internal link added this way is also more likely to pass better value than a random link in the middle of unrelated text.
6. Never Use the Same Anchor Text
It can be challenging to find an original phrase when you’re linking to so much related content. Still, as mentioned, every link should have a unique anchor text, otherwise, Google will mistake one page as the other and vice versa. This could wreak havoc on your SEO performance. Always use descriptive, contextual, and natural anchor texts for the best results.
7. Stick to “dofollow” Links
Some SEOs and website owners purposely give internal links “nofollow” attributes to boost the ranking of a certain page. These “nofollow” links were created to identify between natural links and paid-for links when it comes to rankings.
As such, Google doesn’t rank “nofollow” linked pages. While ideal for advertising, forum comments and blog signatures, they’re not a long-term solution to include in your internal linking strategy. Stick to “dofollow” links and allow link value to flow between your website pages naturally.
8. Don’t Overdo It
As with anything SEO-related, it’s crucial not to overdo it. Google has said that it’s best to keep internal links to a “reasonable number”. For a 1,500 post, this could be anything between three and five links. Of course, the best way to determine the right amount of links per post is to think about the user.
9. Get Rid of Low-Value Links
Earlier in this article we discussed link value. Internal links with minimal engagement and relevance aren’t bound to pass a lot of value. In fact, they’re likely diluting the link value of your other pages.
If no one’s clicking on a link, it’s probably not very helpful anyway, so why keep it? Rid your website of useless or low-value links to optimise link value.
10. Avoid Automation
While you can find a plethora of online tools that help with crucial aspects of SEO, automated internal linking isn’t one of them. These types of programs often don’t understand the humanistic and nuanced approach we need to take for the best rankings. They can make it difficult to implement an internal linking strategy or they end up spamming your website with anchor texts.
Internal linking is vital to your website’s overall SEO performance and ranking. It aids in streamlining your website structure and navigation. Plus, it tells Google which pages are valuable and relevant. With the above tips, you can start maximising your internal linking right away.