While external links get all the hype in SEO circles, they are merely one half of an effective link strategy. Internal linking is the important other half of an overall link strategy that deserves close attention and execution. From a functional perspective, its sole purpose is to connect one page of your site to another page within the website. When organized effectively, it can do wonders for your search ranking.
Internal Links Bring Authority to Your Site
Internal linking will bring authority to your site by:
A) making it easier for users to navigate through all the pages
B) supporting a strong site architecture that Google bots can crawl without confusion
C) spreads domain authority throughout the site
A. Site Navigation is Improved
The user experience of people searching your site matters just as much Google bots crawling the content. Internal linking is a great way to encourage people to spend more time on the site, thus increasing the likelihood of engagement and potential conversion into sale.
There are two effective ways to use internal linkage. The first is to place them in the sidebar of the site as hyperlinks to the relevant topic.
For example, a site that sells shoes could put sub-categories like ‘Leather Boots’ or ‘Running Shoes’ on the sidebar.
That way a reader is prompted to navigate specific areas of the site far more swiftly than if they had to return to the homepage and select the topic from a drop down menu. Benji Arriola, writing in the Search Engine Journal, recommends organizing hierarchical levels via internal links to help user navigation. Hierarchical levels are simple to interpret, easy to navigate, and effective organizational tools.
B. Makes Site Architecture Easier to Interpret for Google Bots
The same advice Benji gave for the user experience applies to search engine navigation. When a search is typed into Google, Google bots begin crawling all relevant pages to see which pages are most relevant. Following links placed throughout your site is one way they confirm relevance and authority.
The bots will consider each link (both internal and external) as a justification for the authority of your site or page. Linking back to an informative page within your site is a great way of showing the bot that your page is an authoritative voice.
But how should internal links be placed?
In order to ensure Google bots crawl effortlessly through the site, SEO’s need to ensure links are placed only where it makes sense.
To go back to our leather shoe site example: An article on ‘The Different Types of Leather Sandals’ should hyperlink to the ‘Sandals’ page because that’s what the article is about. It should not link to the homepage from random anchor text just to score more landing page traffic. The landing pages of your site generally require fewer internal links because they already get plenty of traffic from organic search.
Note: it’s also important for the site to be designed like a pyramid, as discussed in this Ultimate Guide to Site Structure published by Yoast.
C. Internal Linking Shares Site Authority
As the example above illustrates, internal linking is the best way to share page and domain authority throughout your site.
For more information about domain authority check out this interesting article on it from Moz, who actually created the domain authority metric. It’s an important score that helps you understand how authoritative your site is in comparison with competitors.
But what if I want just one page of my site to rank?
This is a common question that SEO analysts get from clients who want to become specialists in one corner of the market. Internal linking can help achieve this goal.
An effective way to help this page rank is to create a majority of internal links back to one specific page. That tells Google to rank the page higher than any other page on the site – a role usually taken by the homepage, but one that can be taken by any page you choose.
Content Generation Is a Big Factor
The one big intangible at play here is consistent high quality content generation. In ‘The Seven Commands of Internal Linking for Top-Notch SEO’ published by Kissmetrics, the first commandment is to produce tons of content. Why? Because the more content produced, the more internal links there can be.
The SEO needs to work with a committed team of writers who can craft the original content required to rank high in organic search. Without strong content, internal links lose a lot of their value.
To benefit from more SEO tips and tricks, contact SEO consultant Paul Teitelman today.