Internal links are crucial to planning and optimizing a winning site structure. They're easy to create and manage and can yield excellent results in the long run.
But despite their importance...
Internal linking is often overlooked by most webmasters when it comes to SEO. Many business owners are neglecting their internal site structure and wasting endless growth opportunities.
That's why we decided to create this guide for you!
In today's article, you'll learn what internal links are and why they're essential for SEO. We'll also share with you expert-driven tips to help you improve your internal linking structure for better results.
Let's dive in.
An internal link is a link that connects two pages on the same website to one another. It’s a hyperlink that goes from page A to Page B while both pages exist on the same domain.
Our navigation menu contains many internal links that will take you to different site sections.
Internal linking helps your visitors move around your website quickly. It allows for a better navigating experience by saving your prospects time.
The main aim of internal linking is straightforward:
It guides your prospects to take the actions you want while browsing your website.
But on top of that...
But now, you may wonder:
How can a simple link between two pages help your brand grow?
Smart internal linking can keep visitors on your site for much longer periods. It does that by offering users the next most relevant information they should know.
That's an efficient way to engage your prospects and keep them interested in your brand.
Average session duration is a key metric that you can track with Google Analytics. This metric will tell you how long visitors stay on your site.
Maintaining longer visiting sessions on your site is a great way to boost your conversion rates, gain more customers, and increase your profits.
PageRank (PR) is an SEO metric that Google uses to assess the importance of web pages. It calculates that by considering the total number of links the page gets along with the relevance and quality of those links. PageRank also takes into account internal links.
Pages with the highest number of relevant backlinks and internal links will generally have a higher PageRank. And a higher PR means better rankings in the SERPs.
You can pass link juice from your high PR pages to your newest pages by creating internal links. That’s how you tell crawling spiders that your new pages are important and deserve higher SEO rankings.
Google discovers new pages to rank on the internet by using crawling robots. A bot will find your domain and visit every link to explore all the pages on your website.
A smart internal linking structure should take advantage of that knowledge.
Your strategy must rely on helping spiders find all your pages quickly. It should also ensure that your new content and deep pages are discovered each time a bot visits your website.
While the SEO benefits of internal links are obvious, you should never neglect the user-experience.
Most visitors will land on your site with clear intentions in mind. For the most part, visitors are searching for more information before making their final decision.
Internal links will help users find what they need and move them deeper into your funnel.
Anchor text is the visible link text your visitors see before clicking on any link.
It’s essential for the following two reasons:
1- It helps Google bots understand the context:
Using the appropriate anchor text for your links allows Google bots to understand what the page is about.
That gives search engines more context and allows them to place ranking pages where they belong in the SERPs.
2- It encourages users to click and visit more pages on your website:
A link that says “click here” is a lot less convincing compared to another one that says “how to improve your SEO rankings.”
Be sure to use natural language when writing your anchor texts. Stay away from generic link texts and use them to provide more clarity.
Also, don’t over-optimize your links and try to include relevant keywords in your link texts.
Creating links between related pages is another way to give Google more context around your site. It helps bots crawl more topics and understand the relationship between them.
One way you can do this is by creating a silo structure for your articles:
You'll start by writing a long-form post that covers various aspects of a topic. You'll then create shorter articles related to the same subject and link them back to the first one.
This structure helps search engines understand the hierarchy of your content and which pages are most important. You'll also give them better clues as to the context of your different pages.
You shouldn't include too many internal links on a single article that may distract the reader.
Also, try to avoid linking to other pages in the introduction because that may keep readers from consuming your valuable content.
We've already recommended that it's better to establish relevance between your articles manually. That gives you more control over which pages to link to and what content is most important on your site.
You can add a "Related Posts" section on your article pages to encourage visitors to read more. It's an automatic process that can save you time and boost your session times remarkably.
If you're using WordPress as your CMS, this feature will already be available on your site.
All you need to do now is make sure that the posts it shows are actually related and not random. Unrelated content is less likely to engage customers and may mislead crawling bots.
As you continue creating fresh content for your audience, you may find yourself deleting or updating some of your old pages. That process will result in lots of broken internal links on your website, which can hurt your growth.
Here's the thing...
While internal links can boost your conversion rates and help your SEO rankings, broken links will do the exact opposite. They'll create a negative browsing experience for your users, decrease your session time, and waste your link juice.
That's why you need to fix all your broken links by either updating or deleting them.
Here's how you can do that:
For starters, you need to find all the broken links on your site. You can check that manually by clicking on links or using browser extensions to help you do that.
That approach might be counterintuitive if you have hundreds of pages on your site. So, it's better to use Google Analytics to find all your broken links.
To do that, go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages.
Next, choose Page Title as your primary dimension and enter "404 Not Found."
You'll get a long list of all the broken internal links on your website. You can download the full report and move to the final step.
Next, you can either:
Nofollow links are links that do not pass link value from one page to another. They'll allow you to save link juice for high priority pages that need to rank high.
To create a nofollow link, all you have to do is include the rel=" nofollow" tag in your HTML code.
You can use nofollow links whenever linking to pages that Google bots shouldn't visit, such as your login page.
<a href="login.php" ref="nofollow"> Login </a>
That tells crawling spiders that the page isn't important and shouldn't get any link value.
Planning the best internal linking strategy for your business can be complicated. But, you don’t have to work out the perfect internal linking strategy from the beginning.
Start by linking your topic-related pages together and try to establish a clear hierarchy between them. Be sure to follow the techniques shared in this guide to help you move forward.
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