Why are internal links important for SEO

Why is Internal Linking Important for SEO? (Your Guide)

With so many discussions around internal linking, it may leave you asking, ‘Why is internal linking important for SEO?’ In this guide, we answer that question, explain the benefits, and give tips for setting up an impactful and successfull internal linking strategy.

 

Understanding Internal links and SEO  

Internal links connect one page on a website to another page on the same site. They support SEO by helping search engines to find, understand and rank your content. If you use internal linking strategically, you can support and boost page authority to key pages on your website.

 

Internal, External and Backlinks

Linking in all contexts is becoming a bigger part of search engines’ crawling. Quality links add value to your website, but each type of link affects different areas for different reasons. 

Internal links affect how a search engine crawls your site and how users navigate through your content. Your marketing team can easily control internal links; there is no need to do any outreach. 

External links are links within your content that point out to other sites. Ensuring that these external links point to high-quality sites can boost how users view your content. They can include links and statistics to valuable sites that are well-known, show that you’ve done your research, and can back up what you’re saying. External links can also be contextual as they give context to what you’re writing about to other information across the web.  

Backlinks come from other websites pointing to your website. Links to your website from high-domain sites can help boost your domain authority. However, if you have a lot of low-quality links that Google may see as spammy sites, it can have adverse effects on your site. When trying to increase your website backlinks, it’s crucial that you use genuine and valuable sites to gain authority from this.

The effects of different link types

How internal linking helps search engines

Discover and Index Pages

Internal links assist Google’s crawlers in indexing your site more effectively and help establish a hierarchy of information, guiding search engines toward your most important pages.

Search engine crawlers sift through your site’s content to get an understanding of your content and website structure. Internal links support this by being the link from page to page, helping the search engine flow from one page to the next. 

Google stated: “Some pages are known because Google has already visited them. Other pages are discovered when Google follows a link from a known page to a new page”

 

Understanding Content

As search engines crawl through your site, they use links to jump from page to page. Using relevant and contextual anchor text helps search engines determine that pages contain relevant content.

So the next time you link to a blog, instead of using ‘click here’ as the anchor text, use the keyword or phrase to add context to the link. 

 

Link Equity and PageRank

Link Equity, Link Juice, and PageRank are all relatively similar. They all involve the idea that when you internally link pages, they pass authority and value to one another. 

Link Equity and Link Juice both refer to the value and authority passed through links from one page to another.

PageRank is a Google Algorithm that factors in the value and quality of the links pointing at pages. Google views pages with high-quality links as more important and ranks them higher.

 

How internal linking benefits users

Understanding how search engines view your site is important; however, considering user experience is just as crucial, if not more. Your website navigation and overall user experience keep users on the site, boost their engagement rate and bring them back for more.

Navigation

Internal linking is a great way to make navigation to related topics and content even easier for users. 

If done correctly, internal links give users a next step. You could point them to another blog, a service page, or a form. This navigational step can help reduce your site’s bounce rate overall.

Engagement

Internal links can boost users’ engagement. As they read through, users can explore topics and key themes, which can improve session duration and average engagement time and boost the number of page views per user.

 

SEO Internal Linking Strategy

There are some critical considerations before you jump into internally linking all of your content.

Identify Your Important Pages 

Important pages cover the pages that bring value to your audience, align with your SEO plans and provide conversions.

The pages you deem important can vary slightly between product- and service-based businesses.

For service-based businesses, the order is typically the Homepage and service pages. For product-based companies, the order is the Homepage, Category pages, and Product pages.

 

Plan the Link Flow

Now you know your essential pages, it’s time to consider how you want your internal link structure to look. As we’ve developed our knowledge and understanding of internal linking, we’ve combined some different internal linking structures.

Breaking down each structure will help create a visual of how the internal linking webs can look 

Pyramid

The pyramid structure uses the website structure hierarchy to link layer by layer. You can discover your page hierarchy using click depth to get a general idea of page importance.

Click depth refers to the number of clicks it takes to reach a page from the homepage. The SEO recommendation is that the more important your page is, the lower the click depth. 

If your website doesn’t have the ideal structure, you can create your link hierarchy separately. 

Service-based businesses usually have a homepage, service pages, resources, and a blog. This is the typical order of the page hierarchy.

For product-based businesses, you have your homepage, product categories, products and blog content. (Product categories may have more layers depending on the size and split of your business)

For the pyramid-style linking structure, you set your pages into layers and then links flow from layer to layer. 

Pyramid Structure visualisation

Clusters

At ROAR, clustering content is one of our specialities, with the SEO Bomb® the unique cluster content strategy to boost your rankings for crucial subject areas.

At ROAR, we often use content clusters for our and clients’ content. In our earlier blog, we covered how to create content clusters like a pro. Clustering content involves answering all of the questions about a topic throughout pieces of content and linking them all together through contextual and relevant links.

A clustered internal linking structure uses a primary category and keyword with all the semantic keywords and phrases used in content to link and group together content covering that category.

Content Cluster

The keyword or phrase you choose should be a key subject area of authority. If you’re a website for hairdressing, key topics may include haircut styles, colouring, lightening, styling 

Your website’s content covering these topics links to each other and to the key pillar page you discovered previously. 

For the hairdressing business, one cluster may be lightening; within that cluster, there would be a range of blogs and content that covers hair lightening, such as; 

  • Best Practice for hair lightening 
  • Risks of hair lightening 
  • Hair lightening techniques
  • Products and tools essential for hair lightening

Flat

The final linking structure is flat. This means linking to content without using as many layers as the pyramid structure. 

The flat structure divides pages into two layers instead of 4 or 5, making it simpler. You can use your home page and service pages as the main categories. Below this is all the other content on your website. Blogs, resources, and e-books all sit on level two. 

Flat structuring removes subcategories. This allows links to flow from level two pages to the pages on level one and interlink between the pages on level two.

This structure is beneficial for businesses that publish a lot of content on their websites. Blog-to-blog linking can be beneficial for developing authority in various areas.

Key things to include in your internal links

Descriptive Anchor Text

Your anchor text is what users and search engines will see when they’re on your site. Making your anchor text descriptive and to the point gives search engines context about the linked page before it moves on to crawl it. 

 

Number of Internal Links

By this point, I’ve emphasized the crucial role of internal linking, but too much internal linking can still be negative. 

When you open an article and see too many links, you may feel like the page doesn’t answer your question. This, more often than not, leads users to leave, increasing your bounce rate.  

The best rule of thumb is to link throughout your content where it’s relevant and valuable for the end user. 

 

Consider Conversion Channels

The classic process of considering your end users! 

Use your analytics to uncover the steps your users take from the start to the finish. Understanding where they convert or where they don’t across your whole site. For service-based, luxury, and B2B businesses, the steps that users take are often significantly longer than those of other businesses.

If users spend considerable time on blogs and then drop off without converting. Do you have links back to key conversion pages from your blog or calls to action throughout the content?

 

Keep On Top of It

Like everything else in SEO, internal linking isn’t a one-and-done solution.

You should create and amend internal links as you add, change, or remove content from your website. 

When you delete a page from your website, make sure to update or remove any links to that page. This will prevent broken links. Otherwise, the link will point directly to a 404 error, which doesn’t look good for users or search engines.

 

Our final thoughts

  • Internal linking benefits go beyond user navigation and will also improve how search engines see your website.
  • Combining different linking structures and techniques will have the most impact.
  • Internal linking can decrease the bounce rate and boost your website engagement. 
  • ALWAYS use descriptive and relevant anchor text to help users and search engines understand the context of the link.
  • Consider the way your users flow through the website and use internal links to solve any blank spots or areas of drop-off.

 


Ready to dominate the search engine rankings? Contact ROAR and let our SEO specialists curate a seamless strategy designed for success.

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