Actionable Internal linking Guide (Best practices for 2021)

Internal Linking guide

What are internal links?

Internal links are links to other pages on your website and are an important part of good SEO. They tell Google that your website is well-organized and coherent, and, well-connected. Internal links also help increase the click-through rates to other useful pages on your website.

Why does my site need them?

Internal linking is a fast-growing area of search engine optimization. Internal links help improve user experience and help search engines to index your website better. Internal linking helps search engines understand what your website is about and this, in turn, helps improve rankings. Good internal linking promotes site navigation and encourages visitors to explore new areas of the site. It improves the user experience, simplifies website structure, and helps search engines find related content more easily. An internal link is a signpost that says ‘this information is relevant – go check it out!’.

To be more precise it helps bots crawl your website better. Letting bots crawl every page of your website is very important for search engines as it shows them the level of importance each page has to your website.

A good internal linking structure is also critical. When we talk about the internal linking structure we are talking about website architecture.

Website architecture and SEO

Website architecture is critical for your search engine ranking. It helps search engines to crawl their way through your website and find the pages that are important. Creating an internal linking structure within your website that helps search engines understand what the most important pages are is essential for having a well-optimized website. Good web designers and SEOs know all the tricks to create an internal linking structure that helps search engines crawl their way through your website.

Web design and internal links

You can’t have a good internal linking strategy if you have a bad design. SEO and web design go hand in hand. A good website design is in itself not sufficient enough to have a good internal linking structure that allows search engines to crawl your website. But a bad, poorly designed website has it even harder to have a good internal linking structure.

Website design components to think about

Creating an internal linking structure is easier if you already have certain components in place:

Scalability

Scalable web designs can handle huge numbers of links between the various pages on your website without slowing down page load time. It ensures that search engine bot crawling will be as fast as possible.
Scalable web designs can handle huge numbers of links between the various pages on your website without slowing down page load time. It ensures that search engine bot crawling will be as fast as possible. Navigation summary

Interactive navigation

Keep your navigation area clear and uncluttered – avoid clutter and dead ends. Dead ends are parts of your website that are not connected to anywhere else. Dead ends create confusion for users and bots. If a page is not linked to your main categorization structure, it will probably be overlooked by search engines.

Clear and uncluttered navigation

Avoid clutter and dead ends. Dead ends are parts of your website that are not connected to anywhere else. Dead ends create confusion for users and bots. If a page is not linked to your main categorization structure, it will probably be overlooked by search engines.

Systematic inbound link anchor text strategy

Anchor texts are the clickable words that appear in blue underlined text on a browser. Inbound links are links from other sites pointing to your site (internal links) or from your site to other sites (external links). These links improve website ranking and website traffic.

Use images for internal links

Use images that are relevant to the page linked to. Imagery helps convey meaning quickly, improves your site usability, and is an effective way to get around text-based blocks of content for crawlers.

Use relevant text instead of images

If you must use images for links then make sure that you use relevant text as the link anchor. Relevant words that are written in bold can be read by crawlers even if they don’t have any graphics support. This will help you provide an internal linking structure in a search engine-friendly manner.

Use breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are simple navigational aids; they show the path of pages on your site, one step at a time. They help your users find their way through your website as they help search engines to crawl your site better.

Do this if you add manual internal links

If you are in the situation where you have to build links when the website is already created and you have to optimize without changing the layout of the website, then you can do the following:

  • For e-commerce: Build links from the description of your product page towards the category that your product belongs to. Then from that category build links towards a higher level category or home page.
  • For informational website: Build links from your blog posts to your services. Then build links from your services to higher-level services or home page.

The main idea here is to give the right amount of internal page rank to the pages that you want to rank higher in the SERP.

Tips that you can do right now

  • Create an HTML sitemap of your website and add it in the footer. HTML sitemap is a great way to tell search engines what is important to your website and what you want them to rank well by adding the most important pages of your website in there.
  • Add an XML sitemap to your footer. The XML sitemap is another way to tell search engines what is important to your website and what you want them to rank well. The XML sitemap helps users and search engines alike to find the content they are looking for easily.
  • Bonus: Something really interesting that you can try with your XML sitemap – If you have irrelevant links that you don’t want to point to your landing pages (or so-called “money pages”), you can redirect them to the XML sitemap. If you build links towards your XML sitemap then you expect that Google will crawl your website way better.

Internal page rank

Internal page rank is the ranking and authority that a page has on your own website. The higher the internal page rank of the pages, the higher their ranking in Google search results.

How can you optimize internal page rank?

There are two combined factors that are influencing internal page rank: relevance and weight.
Relevance is measured by how relevant an individual page is to one or more keyword searches. Internal links help give higher relevance weight to a particular piece of content (a web page) on your site. The more internal links a page has pointing at it, the higher its relevance weight will be.

Weight is a combined measure of authority and trust. Authority and trust are both created by links that point to your site from other sites. The more links you have the higher the weight will be for your site.

Weight is used by search engines to determine how important, or “authoritative” your site is on a certain topic or theme. The more weight your site has, the higher the search ranking it will get.

Conclusion

Internal links are important for user experience. Internal links tell users where they are on your website and where they can head next. It also helps search engines to crawl your website better.

Internal linking structure is a big SEO component that you have to take into account when you are designing your website. It allows search engines to find content faster and shows them how important each page on your site is for rankings. Plus it helps you rank better in the search engines.

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