Internal Links – A Backgrounder
Contrary to popular belief, internal linking is just as important as getting external inbound links, if not more! Most bloggers place a lot more emphasis on building backlinks, however it is equally important to strengthen your internal linking profile.
Simply put, internal linking refers to links pointing to a page or a post (or any other part) of your own website. Or in other words, a link on your website which takes you to another page on your website.
For example while writing a blog post, you might want to refer to a previous post from an earlier date. For this purpose, you would want to link to it, for instance through the use of anchor text (anchor text is a clickable hyperlink, that can be clicked to open a web page).
Unlike external links, one of the best aspects about internal links is that you have control over them – in terms of their anchor text, their placement and the number to be included on a single page. Furthermore, internal links are highly targeted and hence extremely valid/authentic, and come free-of-cost.
Importance of Internal Links
Internal links are important because of numerous reasons:
1. SEO Benefits
Internal links are immensely beneficial in terms of SEO. When search engine crawlers crawl your blog/website, it is during this process that they determine important keywords, and what keywords you should be ranked for. Internal links aid these search-engine bots and crawlers in the process of crawling and indexing your blog/website, and also aid them in determining your website’s internal architecture.
The most important pages in your website will be most heavily linked internally, which will allow crawlers to not only easily find them, but also determine their importance and rank them accordingly.
2. Usability Benefits
A couple of posts earlier, we spoke of ‘On-Page SEO Best-Practices’. One of the key on-page SEO factors was usability and navigation. This is where a good internal linking structure comes in.
Internal linking immensely aids your visitors by making it easy and convenient to navigate and get around on the website. The best part about these internal links is that they are present within the text or your write-up, which means that people will find it easier to click on these links and move around your website easily.
Types of Internal Links
1. Navigation Links: Pretty obvious, links in your navigation bar, such as one on top or in the sidebars of your website.
2. Inline Text Links: The most important type of external links. This includes hyperlinked text which is relevant to your write-up and the anchor text. These are present within your posts. Inline text links can be pretty beneficial as far as conversions are concerned.
3. Sitemap: A sitemap is a page on your website, which contains a list of all the links to the various pages on your website. Submitting a sitemap to the search engines provides them with the contents of your website, making it easier for them to index your pages. A sitemap also provides a one-glance overview of all the contents of your website to your visitors.
I personally recommend adding at least a few internal links after a couple of hundred posts in all your write-ups. As with external links, always avoid spamming your write-ups by putting in too many internal links. Add where necessary and where you think one will be appropriate and applicable; where you think linking to another part of your website would be beneficial from the reader/visitor’s perspective.
That is extremely essential, to look at the exercise of internal linking for a reader’s perspective, from the viewpoint of a regular visitor who might visit your blog.
For instance if you’re making a reference to a post from last week, or last month, it would be a good idea to link to that post right where you’re mentioning it. Or say if you’re doing a write-up on SEO techniques and you are referring to a great plugin that you used and reviewed recently and that you think would be great for SEO, link to your review of that plugin. Similarly, a sports blog could link to a player review post when speaking of team expectations for next year, or a celebrity gossip blog could refer to incidents that might have taken place earlier in the year when speaking of a split-up. These are just a few examples of internal linking.
Secondly, internal links have to be relevant. Irrelevant internal (or external, for that matter) will guarantee that search engine crawlers classify your posts as spam. Only link internally where applicable, and link to similar pages only. For instance Google would surely penalize you if your anchor text says something, and the link behind the text points to entirely something else, or something totally irrelevant.
Lastly, as mentioned earlier, avoid littering your posts or pages with internal links. That would just make these posts/pages look like walls of spam, and would put off any visitors that come to your website.
Internal linking can be extremely beneficial in terms of improving search engine rankings, and website usability/functionality.