How Important Is Your Internal Linking Strategy for SEO?
In SEO, the two most important broad strategic areas are possibly the development of content on the site and the construction of links. The development of content on the site gives you the opportunity to optimize the pages of your site for specific keywords and increase their relevance to your target audience. On the other hand, the creation of links passes the authority to your site so that it is perceived to be more reliable, which ultimately results in a higher ranking.
Of course, there are sub-strategies in each of these areas, and one of the most interesting is the internal link strategy, which will be used to connect your blog posts and the internal pages of your site. So, how important is this internal linking strategy for the success of your SEO campaign?
How Internal Linking Works
The idea behind internal linking is quite simple. Each page of your site will contain links to other pages of your site; your goal in optimizing these internal links will be to include the correct number of links on each page, pointing to the right destinations, with the right keywords.
Unlike inbound links to external sources, these links will not pass a new authority to your pages (since they will all come from and point to the same domain), but can, depending on how they are built, have an impact on how your site is indexed and how it is classified.
The SEO Benefits
These are the three main benefits of SEO that you will see in your internal linking strategy:
Anchor text and context. Just as your anchor text in building external links is important, the anchor text of your internal links can play a role in the way your pages are classified. The systematic linking to a specific internal page of your site with a specific phrase, such as “custom cabinets”, can help Google understand the relevance of that page and present it for queries of appropriate keywords. But keep in mind that the use of such keyword-rich anchor text can be a trigger for spam for Google when used on external links. In contrast, it is generally acceptable to use keyword-rich anchor text in your internal links.
Page relationships. The internal linking also helps Google’s search crawlers understand the design of your site and the relationships of the page within it. For example, you can use your internal linking strategy to establish a hierarchy of category pages, homepages, and subpages.
Strategic authority re-distribution. Internal links cannot increase the general authority of your site, but they can grant part of their own authority to a new page. For example, if you have a blog post with high authority for dozens of inbound links that point to it (let’s call that A publication) and another blog post with almost no page authority (B publication), you can increase the publication’s authority B through the link to is from publication A, and the authority of publication A will decrease by a similar amount.
You’ll also enjoy these non-SEO benefits:
Visitor retention. When a visitor sees a link in a blog post that they are enjoying, they are likely to click on it, instead of leaving the site altogether. They serve as miniature calls to action that keep users on your site for longer, which means more opportunities to sell your products and services and more brand exposure.
Site navigability. Internal links also help your customers navigate your site more easily. If used carefully, you can use internal links as a guide so that your users know what other content they may be interested in, giving them shortcuts to use immediately.
Reader direction and conversion possibilities. Finally, internal links give you the opportunity to direct your users to a specific address; for example, you can guide them through the purchase process by pointing them to content that advances more and more in the buying cycle, or can often tell users a final call to action to ensure more conversions.
So, what is the best way to go about internal linking? What habits do you need to establish to make the most of your strategy?
Build internal links to your money pages. First, take time to identify which pages you want to rank in Google search results. Then, place internal links on the most authoritative pages on your site that lead to those landing pages.
Use a plugin to automatically include internal links. If you are a WordPress user, there are a number of add-ons available that will automatically link certain keywords to certain URLs on your site, such as SEO Auto Links. This is a fantastic way to set it up and forget it with your internal link strategy, which I highly recommend.
Avoid extensive keyword stuffing. Links with anchor text loaded with keywords can help you establish relevance for certain search queries, but you should still be careful to avoid filling in keywords. If you use the exact same phrase every time you link to a specific page, you may see some red flags.
Consider your placement. The links at the beginning of a page tend to count more than the links at the end of a page, and the links in the body of an article are more valuable than the links at the bottom of the page. Carefully consider your placement.
Stay within 3 link “hops.” Moz recommends that no page on your site be more than three clicks away from another page. This should help you ensure that all your pages have logical links to and from them at all times.
The Bottom Line
Internal linking is a very valuable strategy, both for SEO and for the final result of your site. Pay special attention to the way your links relate your pages to each other, and try to keep your browsing as intuitive and convenient as possible.
The internal connection may not be as important or as powerful as building external links, but it is worth your investment of time and effort.
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