Internal linking plays a crucial role in search engine optimisation (SEO). It is a practice that involves linking one page of your website to another page within the same website. While external links from other websites are essential for improving the credibility and authority of your website, internal linking helps to enhance the user experience and optimise your website for search engines. In other words, internal linking is the backbone of a well-structured website.
What is internal linking for SEO?
Internal linking is an essential aspect of on-page SEO that plays a significant role in improving the visibility and ranking of your website on search engine result pages (SERPs). In simple terms, it refers to the practice of linking one page of a website to another page within the same domain. This linking strategy helps search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of a website, as well as the relationship between different pages.
These links are added manually by the website content creator, and provide links to relevant service or category pages, products, or other blogs and resources that are topically or hierarchically related to one another.
Why is internal linking important for SEO?
One of the main reasons why internal linking is important for SEO is that it helps search engines discover and understand the content of your website. When a search engine’s crawler visits your website, it follows the links to navigate through different pages. By strategically placing internal links, you guide the crawler to important pages and ensure that all your content is easily accessible.
Internal linking also helps search engines determine the relevancy and importance of your pages. When you link a page with relevant anchor text, it sends a strong signal to search engines that the linked page is important for particular keywords. This can positively impact your rankings for those keywords and improve the overall visibility of your website.
Benefits of internal linking for SEO
1. Enhancing website navigation
Internal links create a web of interconnected pages that make it easier for users to navigate your website. When visitors can find relevant and related content easily, they are more likely to spend more time on your website and explore other pages. This increases visitor engagement, reduces bounce rates and improves overall user experience.
2. Distributing link juice
Internal links contribute to the flow of “link juice” within your website. Apart from being a wanky SEO term, link juice refers to the authority and value passed from one page to another through the use of hyperlinks. By strategically linking to important pages within your website, you can distribute the link juice evenly and boost the rankings of those pages in search engine results.
3. Improving indexability
Search engine crawlers use internal links to discover and index new pages on your website. When you link to a page from another page, search engines are more likely to crawl and index it. This ensures that all your website’s valuable content is indexed and able to be found by users online.
4. Establishing information hierarchy
Internal links help search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your website (which is crucial for Technical SEO). By linking to important pages more frequently, you are signalling to search engines that these pages are more important and should be given higher priority in search engine rankings. This can boost the visibility and rankings of those pages in search results.
5. Enhancing keyword relevance
By using relevant anchor text in your internal links, you can indicate the topic or keywords that are being linked to. This helps search engines understand the context and relevance of the linked pages. It also helps users understand what to expect when they click on a link, leading to higher click-through rates and improved user satisfaction.
Best practices for internal linking
When implementing internal links for SEO, it’s important to keep a few best practices in mind.
1. Use relevant anchor text
First, use descriptive anchor text that accurately represents the content being linked to. Avoid using generic phrases like “click here” or “read more”. When linking pages, you should use descriptive and relevant anchor text that accurately represents the content of the linked page. This helps both search engines and users understand what to expect when they click on the link.
2. Keep it natural
Ensure that your internal links are natural and relevant to the content on the page. Don’t overdo it with excessive linking, as this can be seen as spammy by search engines and detract from the user experience. Only include links that truly add value and are contextually relevant. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a reasonable number of internal links that feel natural within the content.
3. Quality over quantity
Instead of focusing on a specific numerical target, prioritise the quality of your internal links. Make sure the links you include are relevant and provide value to users. They should enhance the user’s journey and provide additional information or resources related to the topic at hand.
4. Avoid excessive linking
While internal linking is important, it is equally crucial to avoid overdoing it. Too many internal links within a single page can dilute the ranking power of your website and confuse search engines. Only include links that are relevant and add value to the user experience.
5. Consider page length
The length of your page can also impact the number of internal links you include. Longer pages may naturally have more opportunities for internal linking compared to shorter ones. However, this doesn’t mean you should forcefully add internal links to every paragraph. Stick to the principle of relevance and value.
6. Link deep within your content
Don’t limit your internal links to just the navigation menu or footer by deep linking your content. Embed relevant links within the body of your content to provide additional value and improve the overall user experience.
7. Create a logical hierarchy
Organise your website’s pages into categories and sub-categories to create a logical hierarchy. This will help search engines understand the structure of your site and prioritise important pages.
8. Navigation and site structure
Apart from the internal links within your page content, you also need to consider the internal links in your website’s navigation and site structure. These links help search engines and users navigate and understand the hierarchy of your website. Ensure that your navigation is clear, user-friendly and offers intuitive pathways to different sections of your site.
9. Monitor and analyse
Lastly, regularly audit your internal links to identify any broken or missing links and fix them promptly. Tools like Google Analytics can provide valuable insights into how users are interacting with your website. If certain internal links are not generating clicks or leading to desired actions, consider optimising or replacing them with more relevant links.
How many internal links should a page have?
You’d think Google would let us know this information by now, but as per they’re shady AF. No matter what every other SEO guru/ninja/wanker out there tells you, there is no fixed number of internal links that you should strictly adhere to. The number of internal links per page can vary depending on the content and structure of your website. However, there are some general guidelines that can help you make informed decisions.
First and foremost, it is important to understand that the primary purpose of internal links is to provide value to the users. Each internal link should serve a purpose and offer additional relevant information to the reader. Ideally, the number of internal links on a web page should be sufficient to enhance user experience without overwhelming them with too many options.
One commonly used guideline is to aim for an average of 2-5 internal links per 500 words of content. This is a good starting point, as it ensures that there are enough opportunities for users to navigate to related pages while keeping the content concise and focused. However, it is worth noting that this average can vary depending on the length and nature of the content.
Another consideration is your website’s structure and hierarchy. The internal linking structure should reflect the importance and relevance of different pages within the website. Pages that are considered more important or have higher relevance in relation to the topic should have more internal links pointing to them. On the other hand, less important pages or those with lower relevance may have fewer internal links.
Additionally, it is essential to maintain a balance between internal and external links. Internal links help users navigate within the website, while external links (like those secured by killer Digital PR) provide additional resources and credibility to the content. A healthy mix of both types of links is recommended for optimum user experience and SEO.
While there are no hard and fast rules for the exact number of internal links a web page should have, it is essential to focus on quality rather than quantity. Each internal link should provide value, relevance and enhance the user’s journey through the website. Regularly reviewing and optimising the internal link structure can help improve user experience, increase search engine visibility and ultimately drive more Organic traffic to your website.