Internal links are like salt; they are the ignored ingredient, the absence of which leaves your link building recipe blunt. You put them aside, sweat and slave to run campaigns for quality links, never thinking about how they might be just the thing you needed to power up your link-building strategy. No, they don’t bring in links in loads. Instead, they aggrandise the ones you acquire.
Because internal links contribute generously to link equity, they supercharge your online presence and upgrade your E-A-T (expertise, authority and trust). This makes them the simplest, yet the most rewarding SEO tactic that earns you higher (read better) traffic. If you’re not using them, you need to get started ASAP.
How Google Discovers Content via Internal Linking
Google discovers most web pages by crawling. When you Google something, you actually send signals to the search engine to sift through its index and find you relevant answers. Google does this via software programs called web spiders which crawl across web pages, explore the links on them and follow the web pages these links direct to. This action is repeated until a huge chunk of the index is examined and the most befitting answers are presented to the user.
In a nutshell, internal links establish information hierarchy, assist search engines in finding the right information and allow users to navigate the same. An apt example of this is Wikipedia. Every single Wiki page directs to a hundred others via internal linking. The authority of one web page is passed on to multiple other relevant pages via Page Rank, helping all these pages get ranked.
So, Google is all about indexing pages after pages, right?
The content on web pages change all the time, and Google is quick on the uptake. To that end, it will send and re-send its spiders to crawl and re-crawl every page it has indexed in search of fresh content. To do this, it will rely on internal links.
For instance, say you have a blog that undergoes frequent updating. Whenever you publish a new post, a relevant link will automatically appear on your homepage. And if you happen to choose a category for it, the link will appear there too. Google will go back to your blog, re-crawl and index it accordingly.
The question is if the appearance of internal links is an automated process, why do it manually? We would like to tell you that automated internal links don’t reflect to be a best practice for SEO because most often, they aren’t placed in locations suitable regarding search engine optimisation.
How Google uses Internal Linking to Rank Pages
It is believed that the quantity of internal link affects page rank. Google considers the total number of internal links on a page to be a signal for search engines, which defines its relative importance. Thus, the search engine uses quantity as a determining factor to find out the importance of a web page. Higher the flow of link juice more is the authoritativeness of the page in Google’s view.
Yet another factor is the anchor text used in the link. Relevant anchor text informs Google about what the page contains, giving the search engine confidence to rank that page for related queries.
Internal Link Building Tactics for Higher Search Traffic
If you actively engage in internal link building, your goal should be to optimise all these links for better rankings and ROI. You should do this by including the optimum number of links on each web page and make sure each of them directs to relevant information that contains the right keywords. This is how we link a web page to a text:
<a href=“URL”>Anchor Text</a>
The ‘<a’ tag is where the link begins. A link can be anything ranging from text to image. The portion ‘href=“ URL”>’ is the link referral location meant for browsers and search engines. It stands for the link referred to. The ‘Anchor Text’ here is the visible portion of the text in your content that is to be linked. It indicates the page the link will lead to. The </a> tag is where the link ends. It is important, so the following elements do not get linked.
Web spiders understand this basic format and add the link to the search engine’s web link graph. The latter uses the information to figure out query-independent variables and index the referenced page accordingly. However, discrepancies might lead to non-indexing of the page.
Do’s and don’ts of Internal Linking
1. Use Relevant Anchor Text
Linking a cat to a dog page doesn’t really serve the purpose. You have to keep the content theme intact in your internal link and use anchor text that defines the text or image within. The best use of anchor text is when you include unoptimized, free-flowing sentences to link.
2. Don’t Use Similar Anchor Text for the Same Landing Pages
An anchor text displays information about the landing page it directs to. If you link two identical anchor texts for the same landing page, you will end up confusing the search engine spiders. Avoid committing this mistake because anyway, the link juice would go to the first link the spiders come across.
3. Use Alt Tags for Image Links
Appropriate title and alt tag must be used while linking an image. Since the anchor text is missing in this case, you need to provide the aforementioned two elements for search engines to analyse.
4. Don’t Use Too Many Links
Too many cooks spoil the broth. When you jam pack your content with too many links, it eventually lowers the link power. The formula is simple: divide link power by the total number of links put on a web page. If a web page has 10 links, it has more link power than a page that has 100.
5. Use Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs and internal linking go hand in hand. The former displays a directory structure of the entire website and its link hierarchy, thereby helping you do away with orphan pages. Breadcrumbs are essential if you want to make sure the entire website has enough internal links.
6. Don’t Mask Links
7. Don’t Link the ‘Contact Us Page Everywhere
Website content often ends with a call to action statement. Some people link this to the contact us page. This should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. The best internal links are natural – placed deep inside a website’s structure.
8. Don’t Use Nofollow Links
Nofollow links are another way of keeping the link count low for search engines. They don’t contribute to link juice or receive link power. Also, such links are eventually taken into consideration by search engines in the total count. So, it is best to avoid them.
Ranking a web page on Search Engine Results Pages is reliant on multiple factors. There must be strategically placed target keywords on that page and social signals as well. Even better, if it manages to get externally linked on other websites of high authority.
But, ranks can also be spruced up by using proper internal linking to boost the existing external links on your web. Still and all, amid the cacophony of acquiring backlinks for more search traffic, it is likely you would brush aside the importance of this method. Try not to, because internal links are not complicated or overwhelming; they are worth the effort.