It's a big statement to make, but through my years of experience I have learned how true it is.
Let’s think about it this way…
Your website visitor is the blood in your blog's veins and the visitor needs to travel through your blog without hitting roadblocks.
I believe that neglecting internal linking within your website could be cutting the blood supply that runs throughout your blog. Imagine the blood pumping through the veins of your blog and then coming to a dead end? Where can it go now?
4 Reasons Internal Linking Is Critical for SEO
1. Tells Google that you think your own page is valuable
If you are not endorsing your own content, then why should other people do it?
This is the first place that your content should be getting the tick of approval from.
Internal linking shows search engines you mean business.
2. Enhances your visitors experience on your website
As I mentioned earlier, website visitors can be compared to the blood pumping through the veins of your website.
You need to lead them to other related content to keep the blood flowing.
Having internal links to additional information can fill in the blanks for some website visitors.
3. Reduces your bounce rate
When people read a particular article on your website, giving them other options and extra links leading to more information definitely lowers your bounce rate.
4. Helps with Indexing
Internal linking not only lets your visitor navigate your website freely, it also lets search engine bots travel from one page to the next.
This can contribute to a page being indexed quicker than normal.
Read more on how Google works here.
Internal linking on your website
To become great at internal linking, we must first realize that every page and post is a living and breathing entity of its own.
In the SEO world this means that each page and post have their own keywords that tell the search engines about them.
The next thing we must acknowledge is that there are two main types of internal links:
- In-content links: the links that are within your post content that lead to other related posts on your blog.
- Navigation links: these are often overlooked as a means of internal linking and are a very important part of search engine optimization.
Setting up an effective navigation system
After you have done your keyword research and found your main keywords, your next goal would be to make a list of related keywords. This list could be used for your category names.
The most effective navigation system I have used is where 5 to 15 categories are created using LSI (related keywords).
Now if every post published on your website can fall into one of your categories, then you have a tight niche that is very targeted. If you cannot figure out which category to place an article, then it might not belong on your website.
We can get technical and talk about the tiers of a blog, but I'd like to avoid techie stuff as much is possible.
The navigation system that I mentioned above is a clear two-tier system. I like to have access to the categories either through the top navigation system or in the sidebar.
Make a list of keywords
For each post or page on your website, make a list of keywords that can be used as your anchor text.
Using the example above, I have an article about search engine optimization and here are some possible keywords that I would use. Let say the actual article is called “what is search engine optimization”:
- what is search engine optimization
- search engine optimization basics
- learn search engine optimization
- search engine optimization for beginners
- search engine optimization explained
To find the best keywords to use, I would use the Google keyword tool or Market Samurai, do an exact match search, and find the keywords with the most searches.
Please note that these keywords will be used as anchor text to point to the same post and as you can see they all really mean the same thing.
I like to vary my anchor text, as the same words do not always fit into the content of a post.
Of course I do not what my links to be classed as spam either.
Do internal linking from the start
This means that as soon as a post is published, you need to build at least two internal links coming in to it. Doing so “joins” your new post to your blog.
After I have built these two internal links, I will add more links to the new post, but only if I have an article that is related and requires it.
This works for me, but others might have a different method.
Can Too Many Internal links Hurt?
Too much of anything can hurt you, there is no denying that.
Therefore having no internal links is not good and having too many is not good either. So where is the balance?
Here is how I create balance with internal linking
- Three links per 500 words with one being the minimum. So if a post has 1500 words, I build 9 links.
- Reduce Footer links and sidebar links to only what is needed. For example, there's no reason to show recent posts in the sidebar on the homepage when all the recent posts are listed there anyway. This means you are linking to the same post twice from your homepage. What is the point in that?
The absolute best tip I can give you when it comes down to internal linking is to stick to your routine. If you like to add a certain amount of links for each page or post and it is working for you, then keep doing it.
I am a huge fan of internal deep linking and I am very glad that something that holds so much importance is entirely under our control – no link hunting, no link baiting techniques; just a few minutes of your time.
I am definitely interested in how other webmasters perform internal linking within their websites: let me know what your strategies are in the comments below.