Search engine optimization or SEO is a valuable tool in the toolbox of everyone looking to succeed online. It includes a variety of practices, from keyword research to image optimization. One such practice is internal linking for SEO. Good internal linking practices will improve your customers' experience and help with your SEO rankings. It's essential not to overlook internal links when planning your SEO strategy because they can make a big difference for your website. But what are internal links, why do they matter, and how should you use them?
What is internal linking?
As you create content for your website, you add hyperlinks that lead to other relevant pages. Those pages can be part of the same domain (that is to say, they can be on the same website as the page you're creating), or they can be on a different domain (i.e., on another website). If the link you're adding leads to another page on the same website, it's an internal link. If it leads to a different website altogether, it's an external link. Both internal and external links play a role in SEO.
Why is internal linking for SEO important for user experience?
When you think about digital marketing and SEO, internal linking is probably not the very first thing on your mind. You might think about social media marketing strategies or backlinks. Yet, internal links are very important for user experience. And user experience should always be a priority for you.
Making website navigation easier
You want users to be able to access any content they need on your website quickly. They should never be more than a few clicks away from any page, and that's something you can only achieve through linking internally. There are two types of internal links that help your users navigate a website: contextual and navigation links. Contextual links appear in a post or page and point to related content. Navigation links can be found in menus and navigation bars and help orient the user on the website. Both are a type of internal link that will help your user better find their way around your website and improve their experience with it.
Connecting related content
Once you've attracted people to your blog, you want them also to stick around. The longer they spend on your website and the more content they see, the better. One way of enticing them to stay on your page is by offering other content in which they might be interested. You can point them in the direction of it by linking the relevant internal page. This makes it easier for users to find what they're looking for.
Why is internal linking for SEO important for rankings?
As you can see, links come in different shapes — internal and external, contextual and navigational. Usually, when talking about SEO rankings, people bring up backlinks. These are links to your website made on another, preferably more reputable website, which serve as a recommendation of your content. These links are vital because they add value to your website, but internal linking can also be indirectly relevant for SEO.
Establishing a website structure
Unlike your users, Google bots cannot look at your page and decide what's important and what isn't, what's related and what isn't. Instead, they rely on links you add to understand your content better. Internal links serve this purpose by establishing a website structure by linking related pages and subpages. This helps Google index your website better and faster and serve it up in results as needed.
Giving more importance to relevant pages
Regardless of what type of website you have, even if you're just blogging about something you're passionate about, some pieces of content you post will be more relevant than others. If you're posting just to let your users know about scheduled maintenance, for example, you don't need that showing up on the first page of Google results. On the other hand, your homepage or any services you offer are important pages you want to promote. You can signal this to Google through internal links. The more internal links you have leading to a specific page, the more relevance it gets.
Sharing link value among pages
Just like you can add value to the page by linking to it more, you can also add value to a page by linking to it from the right source. Typically, your homepage is the page with the highest value. By linking to something important directly from your homepage, you share some of that "link juice" because you signal that the new content is important enough to find itself on your most important page.
Increasing time-on-page through better user experience
It's hard to measure user experience and how it factors into search engine optimization, but if users leave your website as soon as they get to it, that's definitely a bad sign. You want them to stay on your website longer, and you can do that by offering them more content through internal links. Not only does this satisfy your users, but longer time-on-page also signals to search engines that your users appreciate your website.
Tips for good internal linking for SEO
Internal linking for SEO is only useful if you do it right, so don't link just anything. Choose the right pages to promote and link to your best content. Always make sure that the page you're linking to is related to the content your user is already accessing; otherwise, there's no point in linking to it. Think about your anchors, too - what words best represent the page to which you're linking? This makes it easier for both Google and your users to know what they can expect when they click on any given link. To achieve the best possible results with internal links, you should develop a linking strategy for your website. That way, you can plan your internal links and track your success with them.
Until next time!
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