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Adding internal links on your website is an important part of your onsite SEO strategy (Opens in a new window). Today we’re going to be talking about why you should be linking your website internally, as well as showing you how to do just that.
While many people know about the importance of good quality external backlinks (And how they can help you rank well in search engines), not as many people know the importance of internal backlinks. Let me tell you now: They are just as important, as they can greatly reduce the amount of external links you need in order to rank well!
As with most search engine optimisation (SEO), it’s really not as difficult as people will have you think. If you follow this guide, you will get internal linking down no problem. We give examples of how often you should be linking your content internally, how exactly to do it, how often you should use certain keywords, and much more. First though, let’s look at exactly what internal linking is.
What Is Internal Linking?
Internal linking is the process of linking to pages on your website via other pages in your website. So all the links come from inside your site, and go to other pages on the same site.
Why Is Internal Linking So Important?
Many people don’t understand how important internal linking really is, and only focus on external linking. This is a big mistake, as many search engines are putting an increased emphasis on the how internal links benefit your site. They do a few main things:
- Tell The Search Engines What Your Page Is About.
One of the good things about internal linking, is that you get to use whatever anchor text you want. You don’t have to worry about if the anchor is too long or if you can use that wording, it’s on your site so you have complete control. If you’re targeting a keyword for a certain page, you can easily link to this page from others using that keyword as the anchor text. This tells search engines what that page is about without having to do any external linking.
- Highlight Important Pages.
Your website should have a structure. You will have some pages on your site that are top of the food chain so to speak, the pages where you want most of your visitors to go to. To show search engines that these are important pages, you should make a good amount of your internal links point to them. Search engines will then note these pages as being the most important on your site, and divert more traffic there once you’re a trusted site.
- Strengthen Your Site.
Good internal linking strengthens your site. Remember, even though it comes from inside your own site, a link is a link. The more links you have pointing at a page, the more important is seems to be. Therefore if the majority of your internal links point to a few pages, these pages will usually end up stronger then the rest. Your website will also grow faster in terms of search traffic, as it will be easier for your site to be crawled. In general, a good internal linking structure also leads to your site being trusted quicker then if there was no internal linking structure in place.
- Show Users Related Content.
Internal linking can also be beneficial to your readers and visitors. You may mention something in your article that they’d be interested in, but have only brushed over the topic as you’ve talked about it elsewhere on your site. If you have an internal link which leads to a page where you cover that topic in more detail, this will benefit your reader.
- Passes Page Rank.
If page rank (PR) is an important factor to you, then you’ll definitely want to to link your content internally. If you have a few PR pages on your website, linking to other areas of your website from them will spread your PR and give more pages PR. Many times I’ve linked internally from a couple of PR pages on my site, and at the next update more or less every page on my site now has PR!
While this won’t do anything for the amount of extra search traffic you receive, it will help you charge a higher price for advertising if your site has a good page rank.
All in all, linking internally is an important part of your on-site SEO strategy.
How Much Should You Link Internally
So, how much should you link internally? In all honesty, there is no proven right or wrong answer. What I will tell you however, is you shouldn’t have too many internal link in the body of any page. I’ve seen some websites throw about 10 links to other pages in their articles. Whether or not this makes that much difference to the strength of your pages in search engines (I doubt it does), there is one thing for sure: It is rather confusing for your readers.
If you as a reader are looking into a subject, you want to feel comfortable knowing that you can read a article or three and find out what you’re looking for. If however you get to one article and they’re recommending 10 other articles to read, you’re going to get rather confused. Even more so when the next article you click through to also has another 10 suggested pages.
You have to remember, search engines rank pages that users find easy to use and useful. If you don’t make it easy for the user to use, search engines usually pick up on that and your rankings will eventually go down.
I usually add one or two internal links in the text body of each of my articles, three maximum. Occasionally I add more if there’s a real need to, otherwise this should be enough.
Please note, it’s often OK to add more internal links then this in a page or post which doesn’t contain an article. So if it’s a page which links to all of your articles for a specific topic for example, you can add as many links as you want. In articles however, internal links should be used sparingly.
Using Anchor Text
When internally linking, you want to include relevant anchor text so it’s clear what your page is about.
I’d recommend you don’t use the same anchor text excessively though, it’s important to switch it up so it doesn’t look like you’re spamming your way to the top. Search engines will see it like you’re trying to game them, and may penalise your site.
So how often should you use the same anchor text? Well, let’s say for example the main keyword you’re trying to rank for is ‘how to look pretty’. Your next 10 anchor links may look something like this:
- how to look pretty
- looking pretty
- this is how to look good
- how to look pretty
- this page
- how to look pretty
- http://www.yoursite.com/how-to-look-pretty (Just the url)
- become beautiful
- beauty tips
- how to look pretty
As you can see, I only used the exact keyword four times in the ten links I pointed at the page. This is so the page can potentially rank for more then just one keyword in search results (Meaning more traffic to your site), and so the linking looks natural. Throwing in a ‘click here’ type anchor text as well as just a url also adds to the natural feel.
Once again, you should often be writing for people as well as search engines. Search engines follow what is useful for people, so make your site useful for people and you will usually get good rankings from search engines in return.
How To Link Internally – The HTML Code
Making the actual link, you can do it the same way as your external links. Some website makers (E.G. WordPress) require you to add the full address to your internal link e.g.:
<a href=”http://www.yoursite.com/yourbestpage”>your anchor text</a>
Other website makers such as Dreamweaver allow you to leave out the full website name and simply add your page address e.g.:
<a href=”yourbestpage.html”>your best anchor text</a>
Make sure you do what works for your site. Most good site makers have a way to add internal links at the click of a button rather then adding the above code. WordPress does, as does Dreamweaver. So look into how to do so on your chosen CMS (Content Management System).
The Internal Link Structure
While any internal link you do can increase how strong your site is, it’s not a good idea to simply add you internal links at random. If you want to get the most out of the links in your control, it’s important to point these links at the right pages.
Link to other relevant pages. Don’t for example link from a page about fish and chips to a page about pens, it’ll confuse your readers and search engines alike. This is not a good thing. Instead, make your internal linking logical, and beneficially to your readers. Search engines will pick up on this.
Your website should have a structure to it. There will be some pages more important then others, so these pages should get more links then the rest. These pages may be your category pages, they may be a select few money pages, or they may be a combination of both.
It is advisable to make a note of how many internal links you put to each page, and balance them out evenly between the pages you want to rank. As times goes on, you can start assigning more or less internal links to each page as you see appropriate.
You should also be linking any page you have with PR to other pages on your site. This will help spread the PR, and make your site as a whole stronger. New pages will then gain PR as well, which you can of course use to again send PR to other parts of your site.
Internal Linking Conclusion
Linking your content internally can only but strengthen your site. It provides a better experience for users, as well as strengthening your pages in terms of search engine rankings.
Internal links are 100% in your control, so before you go off looking for good quality external backlinks, make sure you get the good quality internal links first.