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The Beginner’s Guide To Internal Linking

April 18, 2016 - fifteen

What are internal links?

When we talk about internal linking, we’re talking about the practice of including links on your website, pointing from one URL to another. In order to be considered an internal link, the two URLs must be on the same domain. These are usually used as a way to direct users towards another relevant page on the website, or guide them towards a conversion. If you’re running a website for your business currently, you’ve probably already implemented a fair few internal links without even considering the benefits or consequences of what you’re doing.

That’s what we’re here for.

What are the benefits of internal linking?

UX (User Experience) – By adding internal links throughout the website; not only does it make it easier for users to navigate, but you can present them with more useful information on the subject at hand too, should they choose to follow the link. A navigable and well laid out website will encourage users to stay for longer, increasing the possibility of a conversion, and improving the interaction rates on your website.
Crawl Bots – As well as making it easier for users to navigate your site, internal linking helps point search engine crawl bots in the right direction too. A properly implemented structure with appropriate anchor text highlights the most important pages on your website, helping the bots identify the best possible landing page for each keyword you rank for.
Page Authority – Your domain normally receives the majority of the “SEO juice” from backlinks, meaning some of your most important pages have little to no power. By implementing internal links, you can spread the authority across your important pages, lending more power to each one.
Ranking – As it is easier for search engines to identify which pages are most relevant for each keyword on your website, and they spread authority across the whole domain, internal links can help improve your rankings. Relevancy plays an important part in the Google ranking algorithm, and links with the correct anchor text promote relevancy. This is why it is considered such a crucial part of SEO.
Promotion – Whilst most internal links are normally used to offer further reading on a subject, they can also be used as a great way to promote events, products or services across your website. Including a link on one of your service pages to a related event can encourage users to follow through and contact you.

How to properly implement an internal link structure

Now you know the benefits of internal linking, you may be tempted to go straight in and add a bunch of links across your website. But, before you can even think about implementing a link structure, there are a few things you need to take into consideration first. We’ve not even gotten on to the possible consequences of poorly implemented links yet…

Content – Before you can start linking between pages, you need to ensure that you actually have enough pages to be able to do so effectively. It makes sense – If you don’t have much content on your website, you can’t create many links. Because of this, it is regularly acknowledged that a content marketing strategy is one of the core foundations of a healthy internal link structure.
Sitemap – In order to make yourself aware of the pages you want to link between, and which pages need the most authority passing on, it helps to create a map of your website. List all the categories that stem from your homepage, and all the subcategories that then stem from them. Keep going until you reach the bottom level pages of the site. These are the pages that will have the least amount of authority but aren’t necessarily your most important ones.
Link Deep – Once you’ve mapped out the structure of your website, you’ll be able to see which pages need more authority. These will be the pages that are important, but low down in the structure. Starting with these pages, you can start adding links from pages higher up in the hierarchy. This will simultaneously pass authority on to the “linkee”, as well as making it easier for your users to get to the most important pages on your site.
Relevancy – Filling each page with lots of unnecessary links will actually have a negative impact on the SEO and UX of your website. Without relevancy, users are likely to “bounce” on the next page they come to, and it negates the hierarchal structure of your website, making it difficult for search engines to make sense of the relationships between pages. Before implementing an internal link, you should ask yourself, “Would a user actually follow this link?”. If, for example, you had a pet supplies website, a link from the ‘hamster food’ page to the ‘budgie cages’ page would not make sense. Sure, there may be the occasional user that owns a hamster, and is also thinking of buying a budgie too, but most people looking for hamster food want just that. A link to the ‘hamster food bowls’ page would be much more appropriate.
Anchor Text – Anchor text is probably one of the most important factors to consider when looking at internal linking. What is it? It’s the text that shows instead of the URL when you present a link on a page, much like the links within this blog. Above, instead of https://www.fifteendesign.co.uk/blog/beginners-content-marketing-guide/, we chose to use the anchor text “content marketing strategy”. This makes it look a lot neater, but also has other benefits. In addition to telling the user what to expect when they click on the link, anchor text is also read by search engines. When bots follow the link, they will already know that it is about content marketing, making it more relevant.

Internal Linking Tips

How can you be sure that your internal linking structure will have a positive impact on your SEO? Well, as long as you’re following the guidelines above, you shouldn’t have a problem. Just in case, here’s a few additional tips to keep you going.

Pick a page you want to link to – If you’re wanting to improve your ranking for a certain keyword, you need a landing page. Pick the most relevant page to the subject, and optimise it accordingly. If you’re unsure what you need to optimise it, check out our blog on creating the perfect landing page.
Find all the related pages on your website – In order to promote relevancy, you need to find the relevant content on your website. If you’ve already created a map of your site, this should be easy. If you haven’t (you really should) you can find all the relevant pages by using Google. Simply go to the search bar and type in “keyword(s)” site:yourdomain.com. That’ll then bring up every page on your website relevant to the keyword(s).
Insert links – Now just go to those pages and add in the links where appropriate. Be careful not to overdo it though. Too many internal links will have a negative impact on your SEO.

Want to find out more about internal linking? Why not get in touch with one of our Digital Marketing team?

Happy linking! 🙂

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