Internal Links and SEO
Is your internal linking strategy up to par for Google’s SEO needs? Did you even realize that Google accounts for almost 80% of all desktop search traffic (and that doesn’t even factor in mobile searches)? The search engine giant focuses on high-quality content and strong internal and external link building to decide where your website should rank on search results pages. For this reason, it is important that you have your internal linking game up to par. Check out this guide to links to help you determine what you’re missing and how you can add it to your content to boost your Google ranking.
What is Internal Page Linking?
Internal linking occurs when a website creator adds a hyperlink to a page that directs to another page within the same domain. For example, if you go from a company’s homepage to its contact page by clicking on a link in its content, you’re using an internal link. Internal linking makes it easier for users to navigate around a website, helps to create a hierarchy of information within the website, and helps to keep each page’s ranking power even with others within the same domain.
Internal links are important for search engine optimization. For the best results, it’s important to use descriptive keywords in the anchor text (the clickable text of a link) that provide a brief overview of what the reader will find when he or she clicks on the link. Typically, the URLs should be based on keywords as well. This means avoiding the pre-created, numerically based links built by some content management systems and using URLs that you create on your own instead.
What is the Difference Between Internal and External Links?
Now that you know what internal linking is, you may be curious about the difference between it and external linking. It’s important to know how to use both if you want to create the best SEO plan for your business. While internal links point to other pages within your own domain, external links are high-value links that point to URLs on other websites. These links could lead to your partners or even to your competitors, depending on the reason you’re linking to them. While each type of link matters for your search engine optimization efforts, external linking will be looked at more thoroughly in another article.
How Many Internal Links per Page
When it comes to knowing how many internal links your website needs, nobody really knows. Google’s algorithms, which change often anyway, currently only say to “keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number”. The problem is Google never lets anyone know what a “reasonable number” is, so everybody is winging it. Even some of the biggest experts in the game have no idea whether that number means a few, a few dozen, or a hundred or more.
In simpler terms, it really depends on your page. When it comes to your content only (meaning exclude your header, your navigation bar, your footer, etc.), you should only have a few internal links on the page. Don’t overuse them but remember to add enough that your page is informative for the user. For example, if you write about 1500 words for a content piece, it should include an internal link every 400-500 words for the best results. However, it’s best to keep track of the best practices for internal linking since Google does change its algorithms often.
How to Find Internal Links in a Website
Creating the best search engine optimization for your website means knowing how to find the internal links on your domain. Luckily, there are plenty of tools to help you do this. One of the most popular is Google Webmaster Tools. Google’s tools count the number of internal links on your website and shows you exactly where they are. This helps you to find the links and determine whether they are helpful or could benefit from some editing.
Some tools, such as Internal Link Analyzer, take it even further. In addition to providing you with the total number of internal links, it will show you the overall percentage of links that are internal, which anchor type they use (text, image, or a combination of the two), whether it is a duplicate link, the number of no-followed links, and more.
Of course, there are dozens of tools that check links (if not more), and each one is just a bit different. Some are free to use, and some require you to purchase them. Regardless, research each one thoroughly. You might even want to try a few different ones first to see which one best fits your SEO needs.
How to Create Internal Links with HTML
When you view a website, it is created with the help of a variety of programming languages, one of which is likely HTML. Hypertext Markup Language is useful for adding pictures, stylized text, and, of course, links to your website. When used correctly, HTML code can place nearly anything you want anywhere you want on your website. You’ll see the code on your homepage’s backend, but the reader will only see what you want them to see. HTML was created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and as of September 2018, HTML 5.2 is the most recent standard.
Despite some changes in how HTML is used over the years, creating a link with the coding language is still relatively straightforward. Simply copy and paste the following into your file where you’d like the link to show up, changing out the capitalized words for your own information.
<a href=”YOUR HTTP URL HERE”>YOUR TEXT HERE</a>
For example, if you filled in the HTTP URL with “https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML” and changed the “YOUR TEXT HERE” to “simplified Wiki page for HTML,” it would take you to the simplified Wiki page for HTML. Of course, since you’re working on internal linking, your URL should direct to somewhere within your own website.
How to Add Internal Links in WordPress
Creating internal links in WordPress (and most other content management systems) is quite simple. First, you’ll need to log into your administration panel for WordPress, then navigate to the post or page you want to add links to. When you open the page, ensure you’re using the WordPress visual editor. Next, highlight the text you want to use to create the link, then click on the hyperlink icon on the editor (it looks like two chain links that are connected). You’ll receive a prompt to enter the URL of the destination link and to add a title, or you can click on the prompt to link to existing content. If you decide to link to existing content, you’ll be able to search your current pages and posts by keyword. Simply click on the page you want to link to and press “add link.” Most other content management systems have prompts that are just as easy to follow, so don’t be afraid to look around your administration panel a bit if you use something other than WordPress.
How to Find and Fix Broken Internal Links
Maintaining a professional website means ensuring there are no broken links on it. Broken links not only make for a bad user experience (nobody enjoys the frustration of clicking on a broken link) but also create link inequality throughout your website, which is bad for your search engine optimization efforts. Luckily, you can avoid these problems by finding and fixing any broken links.
First, find a tool that helps you find the broken links on your website. Although dozens are available, Google Analytics remains one of the most popular. The free tool tracks your website’s performance, including allowing you to set a specific time for it to check for broken links. Most website owners evaluate their links on a monthly basis. To do this, you’ll need to go to “Content” and then “Content by Title” on the dashboard. From there, create a filter by using the title of the 404 error page for your website (place it in the blank box for “Filter Page Title Containing”). Finally, click on the “Go” button on the filter page, then view the details by clicking on the page title. From here, you can view which of your links are broken and take the necessary steps to fix them.
Once you know which links are broken, you can choose to go in and change the HTML to a new link manually, or if you use a content management system, you can change the links within the system. The option to do it in a CMS is usually located within the administration tab behind the scenes and allows you to create permanent redirects or manually change links one at a time.
How to Build Internal Links for SEO
It isn’t enough to scatter internal links throughout your SEO. True search engine optimization requires some finesse. One expert, Neil Patel, provides these tips to help you:
If you don’t have a lot of internal links, you won’t have a lot of ways to use them. You need strong content to create a strong internal linking game, so focus on creating helpful and informative information that your readers will want to see. Consider creating a series of blog posts on the same topic, for example, since you can easily link them to each other.
Use natural sentence fragments that explain what the user will find in the link for the best results.
It may be tempting to send all your pages back to your homepage or your content page, but these links are overused and do not boost your SEO. Instead, look deeper and link to blog posts, services, about information, or other pages you may not link to as often.
Are Internal Links Good for SEO?
Internal linking is a vital part of a good SEO strategy. They are important because they provide useful content for your readers, help to guide search engine crawlers in the right direction, directly impact your link equity, and impact the overall usability of your website.
Of course, the biggest thing to remember when you are creating your internal links is to avoid over-optimizing the anchor text. It might seem tempting to use a specific key phrase each time you create links, but the fact is that could be considered trying to manipulate the system and might cause penalties for your website. Instead, focus on using natural-sounding phrasing that may double as a keyword.
By creating strong internet links, you are not only helping your search engine optimization efforts but building more credibility with your readers as well. When someone visits your website and clicks on working, informational links, it shows that take pride in your business. That pride makes them more likely to buy your products or services and to pass along information about your company to their peers.
The Bottom Line
Internal linking isn’t the only website component that Google and other search engines consider when deciding where your company website should rank in search results, but it is certainly one of the most important components. This means that you can’t afford to do a partial job or to let broken links remain on your website simply because you’re too busy to do maintenance. If you suspect your internal links are doing more to take away from your credibility than to raise it, you may want to consider hiring a professional in search engine optimization. SEO professionals have the knowledge, tools, and experience necessary to help you create better content and build your internal links so that they are helping you climb the rankings of Google’s search results pages. Remember, doing it yourself may save you money in the short term, but in the long run, a lack of credibility means a lack of profits.