A Quick Guide To Internal Links For SEO
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Internal linking should be an important consideration for all website owners: Not only can readers and visitors click such links to discover more content on your website, but Google sees them too. In short: Internal linking between posts and pages will improve both your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts and your users’ experience of your website.
So how exactly should you deal with internal links on your site? Are there any special considerations to keep in mind? What’s best practice for internal linking between posts and pages?
Let’s take a look.
Internal Links for SEO
What Are Internal Links?
Let us first start with the obvious: Internal links point to content on your own website, rather than elsewhere. Examples include in-content links between pages, links in the navigation menu on your site, and any related content suggestions at the end of your articles, as well as links within popular post widgets in the sidebar, and so on.
However, while links in such things as widgets and sidebars are perhaps the easiest to create, it’s the internal linking within the content that you need to focus on the most, since these are the links that are generally the most noticed by Google AND your site’s visitors.
An important point to note here is that although you may think adding as many internal links as possible is a good thing, doing so will likely defeat the purpose of internal linking. At any given point in time, a user wishes to find the content that’s most relevant to him or her. Therefore, the internal links in your posts and content should be relevant to what the post is talking about — think quality and relevance over quantity! For instance, if your current article is about the PlayStation III, you may wish to add internal links leading to articles about the best games for the PS III. Similarly, offering links to articles that compare the PS III with Microsoft Xbox would also be good, whereas adding links about PlayStation I and II and/or top games for PC users isn’t likely to be of much interest to the reader.
Now, the big question is how should you treat your internal links?
Make Internal Links Visible
It goes without saying that your links should be visible, whether they’re internal or external. The standard practice of using a different color for your links and underlining them works well in most cases, so should generally be adhered to.
This is more of a stylistic and design consideration, of course, but if your links are not clearly visible and differentiated from standard text, you’re setting yourself up for internal-linking failure!
Focus on the Anchor Text
Your links’ anchor text should describe the content of the target page in the best possible way.
There are different types of anchor text, and you can pick the one that best serves your purpose for internal links.
- You can consider going with ‘money keywords’, which describe the actual content of your target page. For example, ‘PlayStation III’ can be termed as a money keyword. Using such keywords for external links is generally considered to be shady SEO practice (thanks to the blurred lines between legitimate external links and paid or affiliate links), but for internal links, money keywords are good enough.
- Brand keywords, such as ‘Sony’ or ‘sony.com’, can also be used. These are mostly employed by news websites, or ones with smaller pieces of content (such as 300 to 400-word news posts).
- Compound keywords, on the other hand, can be used as well, although these are less common owing to their slightly less straightforward nature. For instance, ‘introducing the best games for PlayStation III’ would be a compound keyword.
- And if all else fails, there’s also the option to use simplistic text: ‘Read about video games on this page’, with ‘on this page’ or ‘here’ being used as the anchor text. While this doesn’t highlight the content of the target page, if the text is read in continuity it can prove to be good for user experience, as the reader knows what to expect from the given link.
In SEO circles and groups, link juice is an oft-spoken concept. Basically, the ‘boost’ a page receives by a link directed to it is known as ‘link juice’. This is more of an abstract entity, as not all links are created equal: A link from a reputed and well-known site will have more boost than one coming from a lesser-known or relatively new website.
In terms of internal links, link juice is significant. Your focus should be to try to transfer as much of a boost to your major pages as possible, and lesser link juice to secondary or sub pages.
In practical terms, referring to SEO concepts is of lesser value here, and even Google and Bing prefer that you focus on usability. Your internal links should go to the pages that deserve them the most. If you’re talking about places where you can find free WordPress themes, your internal link should first go to something like a ‘top free WordPress themes’ post on your site, rather than ‘best premium WordPress themes’. Link juice and link value depend on relevance to the user.
Don’t Overdo It
As mentioned above, including too many internal links will likely only confuse folk. Ideally, relatively short articles, such as the one you’re reading now, should only include about two or three internal links within the text (although longer articles could potentially include a few more).
It’s also worth remembering that there may be a fair amount of internal links on your page already — any ‘next’ or ‘previous’ links below posts are internal links as well. As such, be selective in terms of manually adding any further internal links.
Likewise, any content suggestion services and related posts widgets you use on your site to showcase other posts will automatically include their own internal links. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, how such services and widgets actually insert these links: Ensure such links are not ‘nofollow‘ links, for example, or else your link juice won’t be transferred. Similarly, avoid too many internal redirects (if your website uses HTTPS, add internal links with HTTPS and not HTTP), and be sure to fix those 404 errors!
Many WordPress SEO plugins will help you with these steps, and may even go a step further by advising you about the overall health of internal links within your site.
Internal linking is a fairly direct and easy-to-implement SEO practice that can enhance the performance of your website. A good internal linking structure will help visitors find what they’re looking for and encourage them to stay longer on your site — something that may, in turn, even help to convert them into loyal followers. But, most importantly, since internal links will also greatly assist search engines in understanding and indexing your site, using internal links within your content will help your website get the visibility it deserves!
Thoughts on internal links for SEO? Any other tips or tricks?