Internal linking is one of the simplest ways to boost your rankings and improve the user experience. Like backlinks, internal links connect to other pages on your site and boost authority.
For the customer, internal links help with site navigation and guide them to the information they’re looking for, which also pulls them deeper into your funnel.
But what’s the best way to approach internal links? How many should be included, what pages should you link to, and what are some of the best strategies?
What are Internal Links?
Internal links are hyperlinks that point from one page to another page on the same site. Usually, you encounter internal links through the site’s navigation menu.
For example, you may visit a clothing retailer and land on their homepage. From there, you’ll use the navigation menu to find individual product pages, a blog, your account information, shipping and return policies, or an about page. Each of these links is an internal link.
Where to Include Internal Links
Each page you publish should have a relevant link to a different page on your site. If you don’t think a particular page warrants a link to another page, consider whether it connects to your larger business goals and objectives. Perhaps that page isn’t necessary on your site at all.
Internal linking is a great way to show off your content and connect the dots between different services or solutions you offer. Your homepage will typically have the most internal links – and influence in ranking – while the other pages help search engine rankings learn which content is most valuable.
Landing pages should link to relevant blog pages, which gives users the option to read more about a product or its related topic. For example, if you had a software tool for time management, you could link to a relevant blog post on time management tips or time tracking from the landing page.
Blog posts are the best option for internal linking. Having a lot of internal links on your homepage may be distracting to visitors and give them too many options for where to go next. A blog post is practically designed for internal linking, since you have opportunities to link to your products that connect with the problem you’re trying to solve in your content.
You could also link in-depth blog posts to a broader blog post to provide more information for users that may need it. If you had a broad post about building and maintaining your own saltwater aquarium, for example, you could link to posts about the best saltwater aquarium species, top aquarium filter reviews, and troubleshooting common aquarium problems in the relevant sections.
This way, users come across your general aquarium guide and find the additional information they need, in turn spending more time on your site. When this happens, it shows Google that you’re providing value to a user and these articles are related.
Any time you create new content, you should link to existing content on your site. This not only provides more information about the relevant topic, but it creates a great internal link that anchors your new content to your old content.
Linking new content is not only good for connecting it to your site, but for reviving older content and getting fresh eyes on it. Whenever you publish something new, take some time to add links to it from older content on your site.
Older content is always more authoritative, so it can help your new content rank better. Linking from relevant posts that are already ranking and driving traffic can speed up the search engine indexing. It also helps the search engine understand how your content connects to each other.
How Internal Links Boost SEO
Internal links boost SEO in many ways. Linking from old content to new content improves indexing and pushes content higher in the ranking. These links also increase the time users spend browsing your website, which improves the user experience and signals to search engines that the content is valuable and engaging.
Here are some other notable benefits:
Increased Dwell Time and Reduced Bounce Rates
Bounce rate and dwell time are important – but often overlooked – search engine ranking factors. Both of these factors can be improved by giving users valuable internal links that encourage clicks.
The more people follow internal links, the more time they spend. And the deeper users venture into your site, the lower your bounce rate.
Faster Indexing and Ranking
If you have older content with established authority through backlinks from other sites, linking to new content can get it indexed quicker. You won’t need as many backlinks to rank. What would otherwise take weeks may take days or mere hours to climb closer to the top.
Revive Buried Content
A lot of brands publish excellent content that generates traffic and interest from visitors. Over time, however, the posts get buried in the archives as new content is published. When this happens, these older pieces don’t have the link equity to earn a good ranking.
If you link a post from multiple pages when it’s initially published, it gets greater visibility and a better chance at ranking.
Shows Search Engines Your Site Structure
A bunch of content that’s connected to other content through internal links creates a network on a website. Search engines can then crawl the site and understand the structure for more accurate ranking.
This also shows search engines the full picture of your topic coverage. When you have extensive information about a subject, it comes across as authority to a search engine.
More Options for Users
If you’re in a niche industry, it’s likely that your content all relates to each other in some way. Adding internal links brings it all together to rejuvenate old content and drive traffic to other sections of your site. Users have options for how to engage with the content, whether they want to skim to solve a problem quickly or dive deeply into a topic by following relevant links.
Best Practices for Internal Links
Begin with Quality Content
All the links in the world won’t matter if your content isn’t up to par. Instead of randomly linking pages, devote time to creating original, valuable, and relevant content. Don’t publish for the sake of it – make sure every piece of content supports your overall strategy.
Link Related Pages
Much like poor-quality content, linking pages to each other without a common thread doesn’t do much for SEO. Consider the type of content on the pages you want to link. If they’re directly related and provide a logical path for a user to follow to find out more information, a link is warranted. If not, link those pieces to different, better suited content.
Internal linking should always be based on topic relevance. This indicates the pages are related to search engines and improves the relevance of that category on the site. Users will follow links to get more information about a topic, improving dwell time and search rankings.
Keep Users in Mind
Internal links should be natural, not forced. Don’t just put links anywhere in hopes of boosting SEO. Ask yourself if it makes sense to connect topics and if they benefit the user. If you just link because you can, the users will notice and so will the search engines.
It’s easy to get immersed in the technical aspects of internal linking, such as balancing keyword matches or anchor density, but that’s not what it’s about. At the end of the day, linking is about providing a positive experience for the user and solving a problem, which will improve your SEO as a result.
Link to More than Landing Pages
A lot of sites link to homepages, about pages, or contact pages for internal links. Instead of focusing on just these options, try to vary the links between blogs, category pages, and product pages with relevant anchor text.
Linking to pages that will be useful for visitors is more important and beneficial thank linking to pages to prompt them to contact you, get a quote, or schedule a consultation. If the user wants what you have to offer, they’ll find those pages on their own.
Use Keywords as Anchor Text
Anchor text is the display text for a link and should always relate to the linked page. If you have “software solutions” as anchor text, it should link to a blog post about software solutions or a product page for the different options.
This may seem obvious, but it’s an oversight for many brands. Your anchors should be strong and provide some context for search engines .
Ideally, keywords will be the majority of your anchor text. Your website is one of the few places where you can have full control over anchor text, so use it to your advantage. Conduct keyword research and use competitive keywords as anchor text for your relevant internal links, which will improve your ranking.
But don’t keyword stuff. It can be tempting to link pages to the same words repeatedly, but that’s not a good practice. Instead, choose variations of the keywords to keep the anchor text natural within the content.
Also, avoid mismatched anchors. Too much anchor text optimization isn’t natural, but it’s just as important to make sure you’re not pairing the same anchor text with diverse content. When you do this, search engines don’t know which post should rank for the anchor keyword.
Use Internal Links to Keep Pages from Getting Buried
The structure of internal links should establish the hierarchy of information on the site. This helps the search engine index the pages and determine how they relate to each other.
Use a pyramid model to develop your linking structure. In this model, the peak of the pyramid is the homepage, which is the most important page on the site. The lower you go on the pyramid, the less important the pages will be. You can prioritize your pages and focus your “link juice” on the essential content.
Put the Most Links on the Most Important Pages
Links from informational pages should direct users to pages that bring revenue. Informational content attracts backlinks and drives traffic, but this traffic may bounce or end when the user finds the information they need.
Some internal links should send users to the money pages, which may be product pages, subscription pages, or other pages that directly bring revenue.
Code Links Properly
All of your internal links should have anchor text with proper coding to pass link equity to the destination pages. You should always use “dofollow” links to pass that authority on, which boosts ranking. CMS often includes “nofollow” links by default, which does not pass authority on to the destination page and does nothing for SEO.
Plan Links Alongside Planning Content
While linking after the fact is fine, planning your internal linkbuilding along with your content helps you develop a clear picture of how you want to include links.
When you’re planning the content for your site and your layout, consider the linkbuilding strategy and let it inform your decisions. Select your keywords to target, then assign other related keywords or plan a focused topic to generate valuable content create opportunities for internal links.
You can supplement your planning with research into the topics that someone may be searching for based on their intent. For example, if you’re targeting “lead generation” as a keyword, you should create supplemental pages like “best lead generation examples” or “what is lead generation.”
When you create the content, you already have a plan for how to link all the topics together.
Plan Your Internal Linkbuilding Strategy
Both internal links and backlinks are vital for SEO, but which matters more? To give you a quick answer, successful strategies incorporate both in equal measure.
Internal links have plenty of benefits for SEO. When you follow these tips and best practices, you can improve the internal linking structure of your site, show search engines the value you provide, and create a positive user experience for your visitors.