Backlinks are vital, however, internal linking is also a critical part of enhancing your website's search engine optimization and user experience.
We recently ran an internal link audit to help inform and refine our growth marketing strategy.
I immensely recommend auditing your website internal linking structure to ensure you aren’t inhibiting a blog post from being crawled or receiving “link juice.” This is not only bad from an SEO perspective, but also from a business point of view. Content that's not properly interlinked might not live up to its full organic ranking potential — or be found simply by users.
Let’s review some of the most effective practices of internal linking and why interlinking should still be a central concern of your SEO development.
The function and advantages of internal links
Internal linking gives SEO and user experience value for your web site. Here are some highlights of internal link functionality:
1. Opens pathways to web pages antecedently less accessible to search engine spiders.
2. Helps organize web pages categorically based on the keyword utilized in the link’s URL and anchor text.
3. Improves user navigation by providing more ways to interact with your website.
4. Uses anchor text keywords to help user intent.
5. Passes “link juice” between web pages (a purported ranking factor).
6. Organises website design and communicates to search engines your most significant web pages.
7. Helps promotional campaigns by visibly highlighting links on a home page or next to content.
Of course, there are instances of links that search engines can’t analyse. It’s necessary to mention them thus you don’t mistakenly use them:
1. Links in web pages that are disallowed in your robots.txt file.
2. Links in search bars or submission fields.
3. Links in embedded plugins, like Java or Flash.
4. Links on web pages with over 150 links.
User experience (UX)
Setting aside all of the SEO value of internal links, interlinking is effective to your ux. A savvy interlinking structure should feature a useful navigation bar and the drop-down menu with links to relevant topical content to satisfy user intent.
Providing clear labels for every link encourages additional web site interaction, which also has several SEO values. Not only does this increase user dwell time and session length, however, the longer a user stays on your website, the more likely he/she is to complete the desired conversion.
Imagine landing on an amazing web page from a referral traffic source and a day later trying to search out it. Unfortunately, without optimized anchor text in the URL or deep links to index the page properly, it may be not possible to search out it through direct traffic strategies, which is frustrating.
Apart from backlinks, internal links have no direct effect on Google’s algorithm. however, they increase the flow of backlink authority that circulates from one page to a different.
New blog articles are born with virtually no authority or recognition. With a deep link from cornerstone page or the home page, you rapidly transfer previously earned authority to that web page. That piece will be indexed quicker and rank higher as a result.
Interlinking structure best practices
Internal linking structure should follow a pyramid formation. Your home page rests at the top. Directly beneath lie cornerstone pages or category pages that deep-link to relevant blog or product pages. All pages directly within one link of the home page will be perceived because of the most significant to search engines.
The goal is to decrease the total number of links that occur between a web page and the home page. Your home page is your most authoritative, in part because it's the page which will receive the most backlinks. Leverage your home page’s authority to spread link juice evenly throughout your website, and position every web page to rank extremely.
This takes us to the importance of navigation bars and menu functionality. As your website grows with content, blog posts and resource pages, these sophisticated navigation features can make sure that all web pages are still among two to three links of the home page.
Let’s explore the anatomy of link placements and which of them serve our UX and SEO campaign a lot of.
Content isn't simply a clever place to insert internal links for indexation, however, they also aid our site’s UX. Inserting a link in a piece of content serves as a source material and communicates to readers that you will stop reading to gather additional information “here.”
Bolding content internal links make them visually stand out from the rest of the content and beckons users to click on them. Ideally, you’ll want to place links in blog posts to different relevant blog posts. Relevancy is essential because irrelevant links can disrupt your UX and lead to bounces.
You should make sure that your web page contains no broken links. If so, redirect those links to relevant web pages. It’s also necessary that your web pages load fast to make sure a positive user experience and to stave off bounces. Additionally, ensure that any linked web page isn't more than one click away from a conversion page and always contains a call to action in reach.
Some consultants think that content links are more valuable than other navigational links, which brings up an interesting topic with interlinking: Do links in several page spots affect my SEO, and what are the best practices?
The essential part of Internal Linking 101 and Link-building 101 is relevancy. Optimize all anchor text to reflect the title or topic of the landing page being linked to. Inserting impertinent anchor text on a link can qualify your web site as spam.
Be sure to make keyword variations for your anchor text structure. Constantly mistreatment a similar anchor text for every link might qualify as spam and, if used for different landing pages, can result in keyword cannibalization.
Leverage your keyword research, and conduct a link audit to identify areas of content where relevant internal links can be placed. Ideally, you’ll need around three internal links for a bit of content, at least — perhaps more, depending on the word count.
If you don’t want a search engine to count the link juice flowing through a particular web page, then you'll place a rel=”nofollow” attribute on your link tag. These are usually used in links found in comments and user-generated content to protect against spam penalties.
Unfortunately, this tag will sometimes cause a ripple impact and limit the authority flowing through different pages directly linked to that page. Google specifically advises against what it refers to as PageRank sculpting and the nofollow attribute generally shouldn’t be attached to internal links.
When we think of link building, we often ignore the UX and SEO value of building out our own internal link structure. Whereas backlinks remain the crown jewels of SEO, their effects can be amplified through a sophisticated internal link structure that spreads the wealth evenly throughout your website.