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SEO 12 min read July 27, 2022

Internal Linking For SEO: Everything You Need To Know

Internal Linking For SEO: Everything You Need To Know
Internal Linking For SEO: Everything You Need To Know
Alex Williams
Freelance Writer at WilliamsTechCopy
SEO strategies frequently focus on keyword usage, keyword research, external links, page layout, and other major aspects of site design. But while these elements of SEO are indeed crucial, many webmasters and business owners fail to remember the importance of internal linking in SEO.

But if you leave internal linking by the wayside and fail to give it the attention it deserves, your site could rank lower than it might otherwise. Fortunately, internal linking is relatively easy to weave into your existing SEO strategies.

Not sure where to start? Today, let’s break down everything you need to know about internal linking for SEO in detail.

1. SEO Fundamentals: How It Works?

To grasp why internal linking is so critical for SEO, you must first understand how search engine optimization works.

Google is the world’s premier and most popular search engine. Websites for bloggers, business owners, and everyone in between compete for Google’s attention. That’s because Google’s automated algorithms prioritize certain websites or pages over others based on “ranking factors.”

In a nutshell, the more Google thinks your site is relevant, authoritative, and well-designed, the higher it ranks it for relevant keywords.

Say that you run a small dental office and want to improve your SEO for local patients. Ideally, you want Google to list your small dental office whenever someone types “dental office near me.” To ensure this happens, you need to optimize your site. That means:
designing your website to be easy to navigate and welcoming;
including certain keywords in your website’s copy, headers, and meta tags;
using linking strategies, including internal linking, to add to these effects.
The better your site is search engine optimized, the more likely your target audience will find it when they search for relevant keywords related to your business.

2. Internal Linking: What Is It?

Internal linking means linking to web pages of your site. It is the opposite of external linking, which involves linking to pages away from your website. For example, if you link to a scientific study backing up a claim you make on your business blog, that is an external link.

An internal link, in contrast, might link to a product page, a contact page, or somewhere else on your site. It keeps users on your website for longer and is a core part of your site’s user experience. Presumably, everyone visiting your site must click on at least one more button to make a purchase, contact you, or engage with your brand!
In addition, internal linking layouts make up a key part of your website’s hierarchy or architecture. Picture a pyramid shape with your home page at the top. From the homepage, a row of links or pages might descend, with the pyramid getting wider and wider as the pages spread out from each other and as topics get more specific.

Thus, the way you internally link your site affects:
its navigability;
its ease-of-use;
the visitor journey.
Above all else, internal linking is one of the fundamental ways to practice search engine optimization. That’s because internal linking tells Google’s web crawlers – automated bots that search and index web pages for listing on search engine results pages or SERPs – where to go.

You can make internal links from:
  • buttons;
  • clickable images or logos;
  • anchor text, which appears as a clickable hyperlink that directs a user to another page.

How to Carry Out an Internal Site Optimization: Diving Into Details

3. Internal Link Types

The key to mastering internal linking for SEO is understanding the different types of internal links. Different internal links have different purposes and paths for funneling visitors to the front areas of your website.

Navigation Links

Firstly, navigation links direct people from one part of your website to another. For example, imagine that a visitor lands on your website’s homepage. You might have several links for core pages like “About Us,” “Contact Us,” or “Products.” Those are all navigation links.

Most popular and successful websites have fixed website headers. The headers are full of navigation links that take visitors to different core sections of the website. Some sites might be designed with drop-down menus; users hover their cursor over a navigation link, which then expands with several other navigation links to choose from.

Footer Links

Footer links are exactly what they sound like: links that appear at the bottom of a given webpage. Footer links are consistent and fixed. Notably, they (and header navigation links) stay the same no matter which area of a website a visitor travels to.

Because of this, footer links are often key links that assist with navigation and information. Common footer links include links to the homepage, the contact page, delivery or customer policy pages, and so on.

Sidebar Links

Sidebar links may also be used for navigation or informational purposes. Web designers typically place these on the side of a webpage to help visitors find the content they are looking for or to help them browse if they are exploring your site for the first time.

Sidebar links are often pictures, as opposed to header or footer links, which are almost always buttons or text.

In-Text Links

Lastly, in-text internal links appear in website content, like blog posts, CEO biographies, product descriptions, etc. In-text links are important for directing users to other sections of your site or assisting their exploration of your authoritative content.

The quintessential example is an internal link in a blog post. Say that you have an article breaking down a complex topic for your niche. The blog includes an internal link directing a reader to a related blog post discussing a similar topic. Should the reader choose to, they can click on that link and go to the article for more information. 

4. Why Is Internal Linking Important for On-Site SEO?

Now that you understand internal linking and how it works, let’s break down why it’s crucial for your website’s SEO.

Site Structure and Web Crawler Navigation

For starters, internal linking is important to set the right site structure and Google crawler navigation priorities.

Say that you want to launch a new website and ensure that Google’s search engine crawlers index all the site’s pages quickly and accurately. The best way to do that is to funnel the crawlers in a logical, hierarchical manner.

For example:
You’ll start with a basic landing page. It is presumably the same landing page any future visitors or customers will see first.
You include a few internal links on that landing page. They go to the main pages for each primary section of your site, like “products,” “blog,” etc.
When Google’s web crawlers arrive, they automatically use those internal links to proceed into your site logically. This increases the likelihood that all your vital, search engine optimized pages are indexed and categorized appropriately, improving your rankings.
Of course, setting internal links wisely is also crucial, so your site structure is intuitive and easy to navigate. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who just showed up on your website and ask whether you can easily find key content or products. Internal links are often the means to ensure that.

5 Easy Steps to Create a Sitemap For a Website

Signal Relevance

When you use in-text internal links with good anchor text, Google uses that information to determine context and relevance for search terms. Essentially, it uses that extra data to determine:
  • how relevant a given page is to the contextual keywords;
  • how likely it is to present that page to a user searching for those keywords.

With smart anchor text and internal linking, you can make a page more likely to appear in the SERPs for your desired keywords. This has a direct effect on your website’s overall SEO.

PageRank Rankings

Internal links are also important for on-site SEO for another reason: PageRank distribution. PageRank is a specialized, proprietary Google metric that measures how popular a given webpage might be. It does this by analyzing how many total links point to that webpage.

But whenever one webpage links to another, it also passes along a certain percentage of its PageRank. This is called “link equity.”

When leveraged strategically, you can spread out all of your pages’ PageRank values among each other. Alternatively, you can use PageRank link equity to target certain pages over others.
Analyzing a certain webpage would be a much easier task if you use Serpstat and its URL Analysis Tool. This is where you can see data for the given URL, analyze it, and even compare side-by-side up to three pages of your site.
Serpstat will provide you with a wide variety of reports, among which:
Here, you can see organic keywords that an analyzed webpage is ranking for in Google's Top 100.
The report shows competitors to your page, along with their number of Facebook shares.
Compare URL
This tool allows you to conduct a side-by-side comparison of your page with one or two competitors.
Missing keywords
This is where you can find the missing semantics for the analyzed page. Use this report and see a list of keywords that competitors are ranking for in the Top 10 search results, while the analyzed page is not ranking for these search queries.
Top pages
In this report, you will find all website pages in hierarchical order: those that drive the largest amount of traffic are at the top of the list.
Tree view
Here you can find the keywords, by which these pages are ranked in the search engine.
Pro-tip from Serpstat: Use the most out of the tool, compare your page and the most popular pages of your main competitors, see which link-building techniques they use, and overtake them ultimately.
Personal demonstration
Leave a request, and we will conduct a personal demonstration of the service for you, provide you with a trial period, and offer comfortable conditions for starting exploring the tool

Authority Building

Lastly, internal linking is important for on-site SEO because it helps you build authority in your industry or niche. If the automated Google web crawlers see many internal links pointing to relevant content or anchor text on your site, it’ll rank your site as an authority for those topic areas.

Imagine that you run a site about SEO marketing or something similar. Suppose you have smart internal links with anchor text for keywords like “SEO marketing tips,” “building a blog,” “digital marketing,” and so on. In that case, Google will notice that and be more likely to consider you an authority in the industry.

The more internal links you have with good SEO-optimized anchor text, the more powerful this force is. It’s an incredibly important (and potentially effective) means to improve your brand’s search engine authority in a subject, especially if your website is still new in your line of business!

How to Perform a Niche Analysis Using Serpstat SERP Crawling Tool

5. Benefits of Internal Linking for Users

Of course, smart and effective internal linking also benefits your website’s users. Specifically, good internal linking:
Results in easier navigation. Intelligent internal link placement makes it easy and enjoyable for people to navigate through your site, so they’re more likely to be pleased with their experience (and potentially more likely to make a purchase – say hello to more cash flow and increased profits!)
Leads users to spend more time on your site. The right internal links can funnel users deep into your website for whatever reasons you need.
Improves visitor value in terms of their immediate experience and the information or products they see.
So while internal linking is key for SEO, it’s also vital for making your website an enjoyable and informative experience for everyone who visits it.

Psychology Behind Engaging User Experience: Tips for UX Specialist

6. How to Practice Effective Internal Linking?

Given the many benefits of internal linking, there’s no reason not to ensure your site has an excellent internal linking strategy in place ASAP. Fortunately, you can practice smart and effective internal linking with the following tips and techniques:

Always Use Keywords in Anchor Text

Firstly, always set your in-text internal links with relevant anchor text, including keywords. The anchor text used for internal links affects:

  • how much does Google think of you as an authority for those keywords;
  • whether a Google search crawler is more or less likely to follow that link and index the page beyond.

Therefore, never set in-text internal links with long, rambling anchor text but include short, strategic keywords instead.

For instance, imagine that you run an online site selling shoes around the country. If you want to internally link to a blog post about the different types of shoes, you could set an internal link for the anchor text, “types of shoes.”

Since the anchor text for the internal link includes the primary keyword for the content beyond, Google is more likely to rank your page highly. Plus, it’s practically impossible for a site visitor to be confused or uncertain about where that internal link takes them.

Anchor Text: What Is It and How to Optimize It?

Use Dofollow and Nofollow Links Wisely

While using the right keywords in anchor text is important, it’s also crucial that you set your internal links to proper dofollow or nofollow settings.
Dofollow settings tell Google search crawlers to follow links on a page to index additional web pages.
Nofollow settings are the opposite; they tell Google crawlers not to crawl or index pages. This can be useful if you have a page that doesn’t include any SEO-relevant information, like a confirmation page for a remote order from a customer.
Be sure to set “SEO-dead” pages to “nofollow” appropriately. This will prevent their link equity from being diluted with the PageRank system.

Link to Old Content in New Content and Vice Versa

As your website grows and you build up a wealth of content, be sure to link to that old content in the new blog posts, guides, and product pages you put out. Doing this has a few major advantages:
It directs traffic to “evergreen” posts, like guides or tutorials, thus increasing that content’s value for your brand.
It benefits your on-site SEO by directing Google web crawlers back to those old posts, improving their PageRank values and link equity.
The same principle is true for links to new content in old, evergreen content, especially pillar pages (see below). Of course, that doesn’t mean you should force internal links if there aren’t any natural relationships or keywords relevant between the two content pieces.

Use this tip wisely for the best results.
To include the right words in your site's content, you can use Serpstat Keyword Research Tool, which can help you pick the correct SERP keywords to get your content and ads in front of the right audience.
Examples of reports:

  • "Related Keywords" report represents all search queries that are semantically related to the searched keyword.
  • "Search Suggestions" shows the queries offered to users under the search bar.

Overview the most popular keywords, add them to your anchor texts, and improve your content using Serpstat tool with a great variety of reports!
Personal demonstration
Leave a request, and we will conduct a personal demonstration of the service for you, provide you with a trial period, and offer comfortable conditions for starting exploring the tool

Check Links and Repair Them if Needed

You should regularly go through the internal links on your site and make sure they aren’t broken, either because the URL has changed or because the links are incorrectly typed/there’s an issue with the backend or the code.

Broken links penalize your SEO in the eyes of Google’s algorithms, so you need to fix them quickly to return your score to its previous value. Plus, broken links either lead your site visitors nowhere or direct them to incorrect pages, both of which can lead to subpar user experiences.

Simple Broken Link Building Guide: How to Find Broken Links You Can Capitalize On

Set New Tab/Page Settings

A good rule of thumb is to set all internal links to open as a new page rather than as a new tab. Site visitors typically expect clicking on an internal link in a website to open on the same page; they can simply click on the back button if they want to return to where they were before.

The reverse is true for external links. Set those links to open a new tab for visitors. That way, website visitors can quickly click back to their original tab if they want to return to your site after being directed away, especially if the external link takes them to an authoritative source like a scientific study or .org site.

Build and Update “Pillar Pages”

Above, we mentioned pillar pages. These are foundational or fundamental content pages that include high-quality information. For example, if you run a small dental office serving local patients, you might have a pillar page listing all of your services.

You should have helpful graphics next to each page’s title and a brief, paragraph-long description on that page. Each service is a button link that potential patients can click for more information about that specific service.

Pillar pages are crucial since they:
help direct customers or visitors to content in logical, intuitive ways;
help direct Google search engine crawlers to deeper pages on your website for effective ranking and indexing;
serve as topic clusters. You can internally link back to these pages and out to more specific pages on your site, improving your topic authority for Google.

Advanced PageRank “Sculpting”

The PageRank process can be leveraged for SEO gains through sculpting by strategically sending link equity to the pages that need or benefit from it the most. You take away link equity from lesser visited pages or ones that don’t need to rank well for SEO and send it towards pages that do.

For example, say that you have a “thank you” page for customers who purchase at your online shop. The thank-you page’s link equity is completely wasted. So instead, you include an internal link on that page directing customers back to the homepage or a pillar page.

That way, the thank-you page’s link equity is partially distributed to a more important part of your site. Alternatively, you can set the “Thank You” page as a “nofollow” link. That way, it doesn’t gain any link equity whatsoever; that equity is used elsewhere on your site for more practical purposes.

PageRank sculpting is an advanced on-site internal linking SEO tactic and will take some time to master. But if you practice it regularly, you’ll see improvements in your site rankings in weeks or months.

5 Link Building Techniques You Might Not Have Considered

Strategize for Your Site’s Crawl Budget

Last but not least, you can strategically use and manipulate your website’s “crawl budget.” Put simply, every website on the Internet gets a crawl budget from Google. The crawl budget is the total number of pages crawlers dig through before abandoning the site for other prospects.

Larger enterprises with thousands of pages max out their crawl budgets quite easily. As a result, many of their pages don’t appear on Google, no matter what keywords users search for.

You can tactically place your internal links (and withhold internal links on unimportant pages) to ensure that search engine crawlers only reach the most vital, optimized pages on your site. That way, you can guarantee that the pages you spent the most time and effort on are properly indexed and show up in SERPs instead of valueless, unimportant pages.
You shouldn't forget about Technical Website SEO Audit, and Serpstat can definitely assist with this. Its Site Audit Tool can help you carry out a comprehensive technical SEO audit, find and fix on-site issues, and boost your Google rankings.
It scans websites for technical SEO issues, shows the ways how to fix them, indicates the level of site optimization, and recommends how to speed up site pages for computers and mobile devices.

You are free to use this tool to fix issues with all the internal links on your site pages.
Would you like to learn how to use Serpstat to analyze internal links on your site?
Leave a request, and our experts will share training materials, and offer test access to Serpstat!
Personal demonstration
Leave a request, and we will conduct a personal demonstration of the service for you, provide you with a trial period, and offer comfortable conditions for starting exploring the tool

Effective Site Audit With Serpstat: Tool Overview

FAQs for Internal Linking

What is internal link in seo?

Internal links are used by Google to assist in the discovery of fresh content. Internal links also help your site's PageRank circulate. That's a significant achievement. In general, the greater a page's PageRank, the more internal links it has. However, it's not just about the number; the link's quality is also important for internal linking in seo.

How many internal links is too many?

You don't need hundreds of internal links—just one or two well-placed internal links can frequently make a major difference and help you get benefits from it.

How to build internal links for seo?

1. Make a lot of content. 2. Make use of anchor text. 3. Use proper links for internal link building. 4. Use links that are natural for the reader. 5. Use links that are relevant to the reader. 6. Make use of follow links. 7. Keep the amount of internal links to a minimum.

Wrap Up

As you can see, internal linking for SEO is a highly technical and involved process. But it’s well worth it in the end, especially when you start getting more traffic to your site and more customers for your business due to your efforts.

However, you don’t need to initiate internal linking or SEO strategies yourself. You can access a wealth of helpful resources, like training courses and ebooks from Serpstat. Serpstat has everything you need to learn the ins and outs of search engine optimization and maximize your search engine rankings in no time.

Leave a request here below so that our specialists could contact you and discuss options for further work. These may include a personal demonstration, a trial period, comprehensive training articles, webinar recordings, and custom advice from a Serpstat specialist.

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