Search engine optimization (SEO) is the key to reaching a wider audience and it can also help you increase conversions and generate more sales. However, there is one aspect of SEO that you may not be using to its full potential: internal links.
If you’re already linking to blog posts and related articles on your website, you’ve already laid a good foundation. That said, you can get a lot more out of your internal links if you take the time to follow a few key best practices to create and maintain them.
In this post, we’ll talk about why internal links are so important for SEO. We will then show you how to use internal links to increase session duration, improve results in SERPs and more, avoiding Google penalties and broken links.
When you link to another website, that link is known as an external link (backlink). SEO experts aim for external links, but internal links can also play an important role for your site.
While backlinks are hyperlinks between two different websites, an internal link is a link between two pages of the same website. They are commonly found in navigation menus , sidebars, and footers, but you can also use them in the body text of your posts and pages.
SEMrush marketing specialists conducted research on ranking and year factors found that session length and number of pages visited per session are two of the most important factors.
Internal links can increase both of these metrics by helping visitors find related content. When reading a blog post inevitably leads to reading a second and third post, visitors will spend a lot more time on your website.
Internal links can also help search engines understand your website structure by providing crawlers with paths to follow. While they don’t have the same weight as external links, they are completely under your control, which means you can use them strategically to drive traffic to your site.
As a site owner, internal linking is an SEO strategy completely under your control. Here are seven ways you can take control of it and increase your site’s visibility.
1. Use relevant and informative anchor text
Anchor text is the visible and clickable text of a link. Tell users and search engines what the linked content is about, so you should include relevant keywords wherever possible.
But be careful not to overdo it. Search engines also take into account metrics such as session length and number of pages visited. Your priority should be to get visitors to click on your link. This means that your anchor text should appeal to readers, albeit at the expense of some keywords.
Also, avoid using artificial phrases like click here or check this link . These words communicate nothing to search engines or readers about linked content.
If you’re not sure if a particular link is relevant, ask yourself, “Does the reader benefit from leaving the current page to read the linked content?”
Search engines place an emphasis on user experience (UX). Unnecessary links could actually hurt your SEO, especially if Google perceives them as spam . If a link offers little or no value to readers, then it is best not to link to it.
It is also useful to prioritize “direct links”, which lead readers to more specific content on your site beyond your home page. Directing visitors to posts or pages that provide information they might be interested in, rather than a generic page, can prove your worth and experience more effectively.
When it comes to internal links, you should aim for quality rather than quantity. Google’s webmaster guidelines recommend “limiting the number of links on a page to a reasonable number (a few thousand at most).”
This begs the question: what is a reasonable number of links? It can vary depending on factors such as your target audience, the length and topic of the source content, and the number of relevant pages you could potentially link to. Finally, you should include any links that you think are useful to the reader.
You may be tempted to include a large number of links in designated areas of your website. Some websites insert internal links full of keywords in their footers or sidebars. This type of link can be dangerous, especially for large websites.
Using this technique, you could quickly find yourself with thousands of duplicate links. This repetition adds little value to visitors, and search engines may even penalize you for spam . with devastating effects on your website. Search engines are known to frequently update their algorithms. Just because you haven’t been penalized yet doesn’t mean you won’t be penalized in the future.
If you want to see a large number of internal links, one solution is to use dynamic content. Instead of showing the same sidebar or footer on each page, you can create different layouts for example using Elementor , then specify which pages you want to display them on:
This approach could also improve your UX as you are viewing links relevant to the current context. This can encourage click-throughs and ultimately help SEO.
5. Consider creating a master document
If you have a large website, it can be helpful to record all of your content in a spreadsheet so you can track internal linking opportunities. When writing new content, you can use this document to identify relevant articles that you can link to.
If you create your own spreadsheet, you can write down all the information that interests you most. However, at a minimum, we recommend that you include the post title, URL , keywords , linked pages, and anchor text.
Keywords and anchor text, in particular, are interesting metrics to track. There may be some that resonate with your visitors so by saving this information, you can identify what works for your target audience.
6. Check out the old content
Adding links to new content is a good start. However, you should also review your old content to add or replace internal links. By analyzing your previous posts, you can build a chain of interconnected content spanning months and potentially even years.
To get the most out of your internal linking strategy, you should also incorporate link building into your content controls. By constantly re-evaluating this aspect of your posts and pages, you can continually refine your SEO, drive user engagement, and improve the UX of your site.
Links that go nowhere can damage SEO and lead to poor UX. There are several ways to fix broken links, such as implementing 301 redirects . However, to do this, you must first be aware that there is a problem that needs to be fixed.
Manually checking every link on your website would be a long and frustrating process. Fortunately, you can automatically scan your site using a tool like Screaming Frog or the free WordPress plugin Broken Link Checker.
Broken Link Checker monitors and tests all internal and external links on your site for broken links. Helps you fix bad links to improve SEO and user experience.
Backlinks are a way to boost rankings and reach new audiences, but internal links can also have a positive effect on SEO. Plus, they’re completely under your control, so you can link them to the content that matters most to you and your target audience.
In this post, we have shown how to develop a successful internal linking strategy using seven key points:
- Use relevant and informative anchor text.
- Make sure your links add value.
- Use a reasonable number of internal links.
- Do not insert links in the footer and sidebars.
- Consider creating a master document.
- Check your old content.
- Monitor the health of your links.