Internal links can add tremendous value to your blog posts and content if employed with a proper internal linking SEO strategy. First, links provide benefit to the reader, and in turn provide you with more page views. Relevant pages linked in a blog post are likely to be viewed by the readers, which leads them deeper into your site. Internal links work with your marketing funnel by guiding users from awareness all the way to a purchase.
"The objective is not to make your links appear natural; the objective is that your links are natural." --Matt Cutts
Second, they help Google crawl your site more often and more efficiently. Say you have a link to your blogposts from your homepage. When the crawler is crawling your homepage, it will follow the link to your blogposts. Then it will crawl your newest blog post. If you have a link to another post from three weeks ago, it will follow the link to that one next. This can help pages deep within your site get indexed faster. It also ensures there’s a clickable way to get to every page on your site. If the only way a reader can get to a page is through a search bar, the google crawlers won’t even bother looking for it. Try experimenting with different pages and see how many clicks it takes to get from your homepage to your various site pages. Try to aim for 2-3 clicks per webpage.
Third, links to older pages helps refresh their relevancy once again. Old blog posts that haven’t seen much traffic in awhile can reenergize their “freshness” value in the eyes of Google with a link in a newer article. Of course, the older article can’t be out-of-date, or it won’t provide much value to a reader.
Now that we’ve covered why internal linking is important, let’s discuss how to properly implement an internal linking SEO strategy. These five tips will help you start an effective and efficient internal link building approach.
#1. Link Relevant, Link Often
The first point to remember when placing a link is that it must ALWAYS be relevant. User experience is not only crucial for great customer service, but Google will crack down on your links if they aren’t relevant. For instance, our article on scholarship link building naturally relates to the topic of this article because they are both about link building. Your links shouldn’t stand out like a sore thumb but should naturally mesh with your content.
Linking to a page often will alert Google that it’s both important and relevant. It’s okay to link to the same page across multiple pieces of content as long as all of the link placements are relevant. However, you should avoid linking to the same page more than once per article. Google crawlers only crawl the first time the link appears on the page. So, subsequent placements, even with original keywords, will be a waste.
Watch this short video by Matt Cutts on Google's algorithm for links per page and how the page rank is divided among links to better understand link limits. Remember, links per page includes navigation links, sidebar links, and ad links.
#2. Link Deep
Instead of linking to your homepage every time, try linking to other pages deep within your site for content such as blog posts. This will help boost your site’s overall SEO, as well as strengthen the internal pages. For instance, you can link to other blog posts or specific product pages if you own a retail site. Avoid linking to main pages that have links already listed in your homepage navigation, such as “About Us”, “Contact Us”, or other category pages unless absolutely necessary.
#3. Use a Reasonable Number of Internal Links
It may be tempting to link to every single page in every piece of content just to boost your ranks. However, paragraphs look a little silly if every three words are highlighted blue. Too many links will make your content difficult to read and may overwhelm your visitors. We suggest linking 3-5 pages for shorter pieces of content, and more if your content is lengthy. There’s no hard and fast rule here, as long as the links are relevant, provide value to users, and don’t take up an unreasonable amount of space.
#4. Keywords, Keywords, Keywords
Sometimes it’s difficult to decide where to place your links. Using specific keywords helps keep it simple. However, Google may penalize you if you rely too much on exact match keywords for linking. Say you have a post about coffee and you want to link to your “Stainless Steel Tumbler” product page. If you always use that exact match keyword to place your link, you may get docked by Google. Instead, try similar phrases, such as “affordable stainless steel tumbler”, or “our favorite stainless steel tumbler” to add variety between posts. Avoid using general phrases like “click here”. The reader should be able to decipher what type of page they are being led to just by reading the linked text.
As a rule of thumb, link highly competitive keywords to your homepage, medium-competition keywords to other main pages, and long-tail keywords or low-competition keywords to other blog posts or product pages. Use our list of keyword research tools to help you with organizing the competitiveness of various keywords.
Most of the time, your higher-competition keywords will be general enough to warrant a link to the homepage. Plus, it’s useful for the user. Medium level keywords are slightly more specific, but still not any longer than 3 words. These are useful for pointing to category pages that are one click away from your homepage. Low-competition keywords should be used to interlink pages in the bottom level of your website. Don’t be afraid to go back and update old articles with new information and relevant links. If you do this, add a blurb at the beginning about the changes.
#5. Link to Pages with High Conversion Rates
One strategy many businesses don’t take advantage of is using links for guiding users to high conversion pages. Figure out which pages on your site have the highest conversions with a tool such as Google Analytics, and then link to those pages (as long as they are relevant). You can even take it one step further and investigate which pages are getting most views and place your high conversion links on those pages, whether it’s a blog post or category page. Just make sure the link stands out in the main content and isn’t lost somewhere on the sidebar among several links, or your readers may ignore it.
Don’t just arbitrarily add links here and there to your content. Employ a strategy now to effectively take advantage of all that internal linking SEO can offer you. From efficient Google crawls to conversion rates, link building strategies are always worth the time and effort.