The core goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is getting your content to rank in search engines like Google. With that in mind, it's important that you can answer the question of how exactly Google finds your content. After all, if Google can't "see" it, it has zero chance of actually making it into the search engine results pages ("SERPs").
Internal linking actually plays a major role in helping Google find your posts and pages, which may come as a surprise to you, since internal linking is something you can do all on your own, simply by including links on your existing posts and pages that lead to your other posts and pages. Of course, you can't simply stuff a bunch of links in--here's how to approach internal linking effectively.
Why Is Internal Linking Important?
The concept of an internal link is very simple: It's just a link on one page or post on your site that links to another page or post on your site. Since the link's origin and destination are both on your site, it's known as an "internal" link while external links originate from another website. Both are important to SEO, but knowing the role of internal links is extremely useful, especially since they're entirely in your control.
When done right, internal links help Google establish a hierarchy of your site. It tells Google (and other search engines) which pages and posts offer the most value and it also helps them navigate your website, just like they help users navigate your website. Thinking about your users, remember that any internal links you add should ultimately be included with the user in mind.
For example, if you're talking about your company's history on one page, linking to your "About Us" page would give the reader a chance to learn more about your brand and how it came to be. That's a relevant and potentially valuable internal link to include. However, you wouldn't want to link to something entirely unrelated, because it won't help your user and, ultimately, it won't help your rankings, either.
Best Practices of Internal Linking
Just like everything else you do to improve your SEO, it's essential that you use internal linking tactics correctly to improve your users' experience on your website and to ensure search engines don't penalize you for unadvisable tactics, like "link stuffing" or the practice of including links for the sake of giving a post or page more links.
The relevancy of an internal link matters, just like the relevancy of an external link matters. Always link with a purpose. With this in mind, let's walk through the best practices of internal linking that you should be sure to follow.
#1 Publish More Content
Having lots of internal links is great, but it requires you to start with a lot of internal posts and pages. In other words, in order to create more internal links, you're going to have to create more content. After all, an internal linking strategy does you no good unless it's complementing a great content marketing strategy. As marketing guru Neil Patel puts it, "You can't have one without the other."
#2 Don't Optimize Anchor Text
The best way to add valuable internal links to your website is to use relevant anchor text, rather than as a linked image. While image links are helpful, as long as the image has appropriate alt text, they shouldn't be the main source of internal links on your site. Anchor text helps both people and search engines navigate to the most helpful and relevant links with ease.
If you're not sure how to come up with the best anchor text, Sean Si says the key is to not overthink it. Your anchor text should not be purposely "optimized," instead it should be natural. Don't try to stuff keywords into your anchors, just find a sentence fragment that could use background info and include a link where the reader can find that background info.
#3 Include Deep Links
It's easy to find places to link to two of the most popular pages on your site: Your contact page and your home page, but it's generally advised that you never include these internal links. This is because you don't want to point internal links to the pages that your main navigation menu already points to. Instead, you need to focus on adding truly valuable internal links, which means going deeper into your content.
The best and most natural links to include are links to content, like posts and pages, that aren't included in your main navigation menu. As you add content, you'll find that there are all sorts of opportunities to include links to old posts and then to go back into old posts and link to new posts. That's how you create a useful web of internal links that will help your readers and search engines find your best content.
#4 Look for Overlap
An internal link essentially tells a reader, and a search engine, that the link you're including is so relevant and important that's it worth it for them to stop reading whatever they're looking at and start reading what's at the destination instead. When done right, internal linking improves the experience of your readers and boosts engagement.
To make sure that you're really offering internal links that will do these things, you need to check for overlap. Just because you mentioned a concept that you've mentioned in another post, it doesn't automatically mean that you need to link back to it. Littering your content with internal links will actually only take value away from the links that really matter.
So, when deciding whether or not to include an internal link, ask yourself: Does this link contain information my reader wouldn't already know and, if so, is it information they presumably want or need to know? Consider pain points and intention along with the reader's place in the funnel when linking to internal and external content.
#5 Always Opt for "Do Follow" Links
Many years back, the concept of "no-follow" links was introduced into the world of SEO. The purpose of a "no follow" link is purely for search engines—to a reader, a "no follow" link looks and functions exactly the same as a "do follow" link.
For search engines, though, a "no follow" link will not be counted as "backlink juice" for the destination. Therefore, "no-follow" links are often used by brands when linking externally in order for them to show to the search engine that they aren't trying to influence the ranking of the destination content, which is important since Google prohibits sites from selling links and using other questionable (but ultimately untraceable) tactics to generate revenue.
However, when it comes to your internal linking, "no follow" links will not help you at all.
Create a Strong Web of Internal Links
Thinking back to the very first recommendation to help you use internal links better, remember the wise words that you can't have an internal linking strategy without having a strong content marketing strategy in place. These two things go hand-in-hand when it comes to improving your SEO, informing your readers, and boosting engagement across your website.
Content marketing is also fundamental to bringing organic traffic to your website, both from search engines and third-party platforms. The tricky part, of course, is coming up with a content marketing plan and putting it into action. Scripted can help. With our professional writers plus self-managed and fully managed services, you can enjoy content writing that powers your brand's growth.
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