Content | May 28, 2021
The Big Liberty Guide to Internal Linking
Internal linking is something you can easily take for granted. As a content writer, I encounter internal linking every day. However, when you’re looking at internal linking for SEO as a newcomer, it can be confusing.
When do you internally link? How do you do it? Why is it important? These are all questions that can be hard to figure out on your own. Thankfully, we’re here to help with the big Liberty guide to internal linking.
We’ll cover what internal linking is, how it impacts SEO, how it informs site structure and why you should always be considering it.
What is an Internal Link?
An internal link simply points a page to another page on the same website. In more technical terms, it takes users to a “target” from a “source” on the same domain. Here is an internal link example from one of our blog posts:
If we look deeper, the HTML code for this internal link looks like this:
Every internal links follows the same HTML format. The HTML format is:
<a href=”URL on same domain”>Keyword</a>
That’s all it is: a strip of HTML code that has a massive impact on a site’s performance. An internal link has two major effects:
- Helping with user navigation.
- Establishing a website’s hierarchy.
External links, on the other hand, are between different websites and are primarily concerned with spreading link equity, referencing information and improving the user experience.
Why Are Internal Links Important For SEO?
Internal links are all about users finding new content on your website. It’s important from an engagement perspective, but where there are users, there are SEO considerations too.
You must internally link to a new page so Google can find it. Without links, Google’s crawler will be unable to identify and categorise the page. According to Google, they use internal links to:
“[find] out what pages exist on the web. There isn’t a central registry of all web pages, so Google must constantly search for new pages and add them to its list of known pages.
Some pages are known because Google has already visited them before. Other pages are discovered when Google follows a link from a known page to a new page.”
A page with no internal link to it is described as an “orphan page”. If no links are present, then Google cannot identify that the page exists.
Imagine your website as a network of islands, with each island representing a page. Each page is linked by a bridge, which transfers information – this forms the site structure. If an island exists without a bridge going to or from it, then no information is being shared, and the island may as well not be there.
This is why internal linking is central to creating site structure. If we don’t plan out internal links, then the probability of orphaned pages popping up increases. Even if a page has great keywords, excellent content, and looks amazing, if it has no links pointing to it, then Google cannot access it.
So that’s internal linking sorted, right? All we need is one link going to each page and our website is in a perfect state – job done? Well, not quite…
Why One Internal Link Isn’t Enough
It’s important to have multiple internal links to important category pages and other content. Once you have the bare bones of your site structure, building long-form content with natural, clear internal links to other pages helps Google ascertain the relationship between your site’s content. The more internal links, the better the understanding. And, the better Google understands your site and its content, the better your rankings will be.
How to Add Internal Links
Confused about how to link? Adding internal links is easy enough. Usually, your website’s content management system will have a built-in tool to add internal links. If you’re struggling, you can always use the HTML code we showed above:
<a href=”URL on same domain”>Keyword</a>
Whenever you internally link, always aim to pick a logical phrase or word to link – this is called the anchor text.
The “anchor text” you choose is very important. Ideally, it should:
- Match the page you’re linking to.
- Be a keyword.
This gives Google context regarding what the page you’re linking to is about, as well as an additional hint about your overall site structure. Good internal linking and logical anchor text are the cornerstones of well-made websites.
Don’t believe us? Well, here is Google’s John Mu saying just that:
Most links do provide a bit of additional context through their anchor text. At least they should, right‽— 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) November 23, 2017
So, let’s say we’re writing a blog about, I don’t know, Bruce Lee’s martial arts techniques. Let’s say it’s for a sports company that also sells martial arts equipment.
You have a great blog all about the techniques, and you’ve also managed to talk about relevant equipment the company has in stock and wants to sell more of.
In the call-to-action for this blog, you can internally link to the martial arts category page with the anchor text “martial arts equipment”. This term satisfies what Google needs, as it tells its crawlers:
- The category page is about martial arts equipment.
- The category page could be worth ranking for the term “martial arts equipment”.
- The blog post is related to the category page.
We’ve covered this more in our How To Write A Blog piece, but if you can write blog posts that target strong longtail keywords, then internally link to priority pages, it can be an excellent strategy for growth.
Internal Linking and the Conversion Funnel
So, why is it important to internally link in a blog’s CTA, body text and/or on category pages? Sure, we’ve discussed the importance it has for SEO and site structure, but it’s also essential to usher users down the conversion funnel.
Ultimately, a content’s worth is governed by its engagement. If you’ve put in the hard work to keep a user reading while occupying space in the SERPs, then you need to capitalise on that by keeping the user on-site and converting.
Internally linking to related category pages, other pieces of content and conversion pages are the ideal one-two combo of improving user experience and increasing leads/conversions.
Returning to our martial arts equipment example above, linking to a category-level page about this topic satisfies the website’s goal of selling more equipment, while also directing the user to pages they will find interesting.
You don’t always have to internally link to a category page, either. Linking to other pieces of content that are adjacent to your page can work too, especially from a brand awareness perspective. However, you should always try to avoid moving users “up” the funnel. Moving users “up the funnel” effectively means moving them away from conversion or other relevant information.
Common Internal Linking Pitfalls
There are a few internal linking pitfalls you should be aware of:
- Linking too much – adding too many links can impact the readability of your content, which hampers engagement. It can also come across as spammy, which negatively impacts how Google assesses your content.
- Not making internal linking look natural – internal links should always look natural, with anchor text that makes sense.
- Not diversifying anchor text – using the same anchor text across various pages or using it multiple times in the same piece of content is another way to appear spammy.
- Creating content without considering internal linking – internal linking shouldn’t be an afterthought; it has to play a central role in content ideation and planning.
Internal linking best practices can be overwhelming at first, but they usually come down to prioritising the user’s experience. The job of an internal link is to make a user’s experience better, not to get in a user’s way.
Internal Linking: An Integral Part of Content Optimisation
Need to know more about content optimisation? Has our internal linking guide raised other questions? Or, do you need some help upcycling pieces into memorable, readable content? Well, our Content Optimisation service helps with just that. Our optimisation services take your existing content and transform it to make it look nicer, read better and attain more traffic. We’re not interested in content for content’s sake: we want results.