15 Feb 2021 - 7 mins read
Strategic internal linking is an incredibly effective SEO tool, particularly for content marketing as it's relatively straightforward but yields great results. Whilst it’s common knowledge that content is king when it comes to SEO, without internal linking, you’re missing out on huge opportunities to drive traffic and link equity between your pages. In this post, I’ll be explaining what exactly internal linking is, it’s purpose and top tips on how to do it best.
An internal link joins one page of a website to another page on the same website. This means the source domain and target domain are the same. It can link to categories, site navigation, blog posts and pretty much any other page on your website. In this article I’m going to focus more specifically on editorial links within blogs as these are the links I focus on most, being a copywriter.
Here’s a simple diagram to demonstrate how internal linking works:
There are a number of purposes and advantages of internal linking, including:
As mentioned in another recent blog post from Statuo, outlining how to ‘create effective content strategies whilst considering SEO’: Google and other search engine user agents are constantly making attempts to develop/strengthen its understanding of content, and whilst there are still some shortcomings on Google’s front, it is more noticeable than ever, that detailed, engaging content, which adds value to a users experience is held in high regard and increases the likelihood of the site in question ranking more efficiently within SERPs.
Internal linking allows users to navigate more easily through your website. You can help direct your readers to other relevant and related content that might interest them via anchor text. Anchor text is clickable text in a hyperlink. Here is an example of anchor text:
“If you need help developing and implementing a multi channel marketing strategy for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch”
As you can see, the final words ‘get in touch’ are hyperlinked and lead to our website’s contact page.
Another example of where you might use internal linking within your content is if you’re writing multiple blogs that discuss related topics. E.g. a blog about the most efficient boilers might redirect your user to a previous article about saving energy in your home.
This not only aids in navigation but also provides more value to the user, which brings us onto the next advantage…
By providing your users with more valuable information to read through internal linking, you can help to increase the time they spend on your site and lower your bounce rate. The bounce rate refers to visitors who view just one page of your site and leave immediately after.
To reduce the bounce rate and increase time on site, you can direct visitors through your site via relevant internal linking that offers real value. You can monitor your bounce rate through Google Analytics. Simply click Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages to view the bounce rate for each of your posts.
As mentioned above, by providing relevant content to your visitors through anchor text, you can help them to navigate through your site and read more of your content. As these visitors view each page, your page views will increase and indicate popularity to Google, therefore helping you to rank higher.
Google is constantly gathering information from hundreds of billions of web pages through something called the crawling process. Web crawling software uses sitemaps provided by website owners to ‘crawl’ the pages of their websites, following links to discover each page and any information about them such as keywords and freshness.
With the information gathered, they deliver data back to Google’s servers and it is then used to organise the Search index, which determines how high or low your webpage will rank.
By building a strong and strategic internal architecture through internal linking, you can help Google’s crawling bots to find deeper pages that are visited less often and therefore helping you to rank higher.
Google uses a specific algorithm called PageRank to measure the importance of web pages based on how many backlinks they receive. Pages can be scored between 0-10 and the higher the score, the more likely you are to rank higher in the Search index because Google deems highly scoring pages to be more authoritative.
By strategically planning your internal links, you can increase the authority of certain webpages. Ideally, you want these pages to be the ones that lead to conversions e.g. the ‘Get a Quote’ or ‘Contact Us’ pages. By creating more links that lead to these pages, Google will view these as more important and therefore rank them higher and likely increase your conversions.
Now you know the purposes and importance of internal linking, let’s take a look at how you actually do it.
To start with, you should ensure you have existing written content on your website, even if it’s just a single blog post. This is your starting place. From now on, you should also start to write new content more often and try to get into a regular schedule for publishing.
In order to create a strong internal architecture deep within your website, you need to be connecting one content heavy page to another such as long form blog articles. By connecting relevant content, you’re not only building backlinks but also providing your visitors with value.
Earlier we looked at anchor text, the words that are a clickable hyperlink. In order to naturally integrate links into your content, you should use anchor text as opposed to just pasting long links that offer no context. Not only does this help your reader to know what they’re clicking on but it also associates the subject of your link with the phrase used.
That’s why it’s important to use anchor text effectively by using phrases that describe what the target link is about as opposed to ‘click here’ which adds no value.
For example, if I wanted to link to an article about Design Trends in 2020, I would write it like this:
- Many businesses have taken the time to reevaluate their branding and design in 2020.
The anchor text contains ‘branding and design in 2020’ as the blog post I’m linking to contains information about 2020 design and branding trends.
One thing to look out for is ‘exact match anchor text’. This is when the anchor text is an exact match of the link target and it has resulted in SEO penalties in the past. This is because it appears unnatural in regular content. You should also be wary of how many words you link. Aim to stick to a few words or a phrase as opposed to multiple sentences or paragraphs as this looks unsightly.
Every time you write new content, you should be aiming to include at least four internal links to other existing articles. This helps to improve the ‘freshness value’ of your old articles and helps to increase their ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs). Each time a visitor follows the link from your new article to your old one, they refresh the content because they show it’s still relevant.
Updating your old blog articles is a powerful tool as Google’s crawler views, indexes and increases its ranking in the SERPs again. Some tips on updating your old content are:
If certain pages convert visitors more than others, it makes sense to increase the number of links that connect to these pages. This increases your revenue value as well as your SEO value- a win-win.
Whilst SEO can be complicated, by making implementing these simple steps you can make great improvements to your search engine rankings. For help with your SEO please don't hesitate to get in touch with the team at Statuo.
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