Internal linking for SEO

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A comprehensive guide on internal linking in modern SEO

We all know the important role played by links in SEO. Proper linking is important and an integral part of modern SEO. I wrote an article about link building before. We all know how important it is to create quality backlinks. In this article, we will be talking about internal links and not the external one. This will be a comprehensive article on internal linking and its benefits in modern SEO. Creating external links is tough; however, creating internal ones is easy. Let us understand this step by step for complete understanding and to get more clarity on internal link optimization and how Google spider crawls them.

When I started building the internal links as an SEO strategy, I saw a 40% increase in overall web traffic of my blog. This definitely helps in SEO. No one should ever neglect it.

What is internal linking?

The first question that comes in mind is what is internal linking. Let us define it first. In simple terms, internal linking referred to two pages linked together on the same domain. A classic example will be Wikipedia. They have a strong linking strategy that helps them in getting to the top of search results. If you read an article on Wikipedia, you will notice that an elaborated content page may have hundreds of links pointing to other relevant pages in Wikipedia. In layman’s terms, an internal link is a hyperlink that points to another page on the same website. Now when we have defined internal links, let us find out why we need them? In a broader sense, they help any webmaster in three different ways.

  1. They allow visitors on the website to navigate across the content more efficiently
  2. These links create a hierarchy for the website and help Google bots to identify the website structure
  3. These links help to spread page authority from one page to another increasing overall authority

Now let us discuss the above points in detail for better understanding.

1. Effective website navigation

Internal links optimization helps Google bots and visitors to efficiently navigate the website.

Internal linking helps visitors and Google bots to efficiently navigate your website. Better navigation means that both the visitors and Google bots have access to complete content on your website. Clear navigation gives people access to more content. This means that visitors will spend more time on your website and Google absolutely loves this. Increase session duration means a higher ranking in searches.

2. Website infrastructure and Google spiders

Google needs to see the entire content structure of your website. I know that you might say that you have already submitted the sitemap in Google search console, however, Google spider also needs to see the entire content structure through internal links. Google spider can be defined as a crawling algorithm from Google that looks out for all the internal links on a particular page. Let me explain this with an infographic here.

Google spider crawling links on the page.

In the above infographic, Google spider does not have access to the complete content of the website. Since page C, D & E are linked to page A & B which Google spider has access to, these pages which are not linked will not be crawled by Google algorithm. So please make sure that your pages are internally linked to each other.

3. Spreading link authority or ranking power

When you link one page to another, the link authority of these pages gets shared. In other words, the page with higher link authority passes on the link juice to the page with less page authority. This is something that every webmaster looks for, increasing link juice for the pages on their website. Most noteworthy, this method is absolutely under your control unlike building external links.

Google spider or bot crawls your website by going through each internal and external link. This bot first arrive at the homepage and then starts crawling. By following links, this Google bot find out the relation between different content. This way Google finds out what content covers what similar topics.

Internal linking in SEO & site structure

In order to further simplify take a look at the pyramid structure below. This infographic shows internal link optimization.

Internal link optimization in a form of a pyramid. Structured website is always liked by Google.

The main page of your website is your home page. Then comes your categories, sub-categories and finally your posts. This site structure is always liked by Google bots as they know what are the different content pages on your website and how are they interrelated. So your posts will be efficiently crawled by Google spider if it knew the topic on which the post is based. It can only know the topic in detail once you associate your post to a particular category. So have a well laid out content structure.

What do I do for internal links optimization?

I use WordPress as a CMS for my blog. Interestingly WordPress gives you plugin options so you can use any of the SEO plugins. I used the Yoast Plugin, which is the most used and common plugin. You can use the free version until the time you get familiar with the keywords and SEO. Once you are familiar with Yoast free version, I strongly advise you to purchase their premium version. Besides the fact that the premium version allows you to target 5 keywords or focus phrases, it also gives you options for internal linking for SEO. Once you start writing a post, Yoast will automatically prompt and give you suggestions for linking similar articles on your website.

Screenshot showing similar articles in Yoast  plugin section  that you can link in your existing article which you are composing.
The right section tells you the similar articles that you can link to your existing post which you are writing.

Anchor text in a hyperlink

This is yet another important entity in liking. Anchor text refers to the clickable text on which you are placing the hyperlink which is visible to the visitors. For e.g., If I link an article that I wrote about low-quality EMD and it’s adverse effects. In this statement, the phrase “Low-quality EMD and it’s adverse effect” becomes my anchor text. An anchor text should always have keywords (Not stuffed though) and it should always give you a glimpse of what the linking article content is. In other words, anchor text should be relevant to the article you are linking to. Just do not go in a link creating spree for the sake of creating these links. Read this excellent writeup on anchor text by outreachmama.

Setting up Internal linking strategy for SEO

There are ways to set up your internal link strategy for SEO. Let us discuss those strategies in detail here. You can link your text normally, however, there are other ways to boost your internal linking strategy.

1. Top paragraph links

Once a visitor lands on your webpage the first paragraph will decide if the visitor will stay or bounce off. Well-Written content will compel the visitor to stay and continue reading your article. How about we induce few links in the top paragraph so that the visitor has access to more webpages on your website. This will not only give more variety and in-depth to your visitor but also will increase the session time. Hence the rankings will be pumped automatically. This is the first point you should consider while doing internal links optimization.

2. Write more cornerstone articles

Keep on adding more and more content to your website. More content means more webpages to link. I could have purchased premium version of Yoast when I started my blog however I waited till I had about 50 articles on my blog. This gave me more webpages that I would link to my new articles. Now when I write articles I write cornerstone articles. Cornerstone articles as per Yoast are articles which are 900 words or more. In other words, these articles are more descriptive and are the main articles on your blog niche. These articles are not like short stories but a complete movie that guides you on a particular topic from A to Z. This article on Internal linking is one of my cornerstone article. Try to write elaborate articles will all the information that a visitor might look for. Linking these cornerstone articles to your other articles will give a major SEO boost.

3. Related posts in the end

If you read my articles, you will find a related post section in the end. Post-reading this article you can read more related posts at the end of this page. Since I use WordPress, I use a plugin for showing these related posts. It is a free plugin and is called as “Yet another related post plugin” in short YARPP. This is an amazing plugin with a lot of customization even in their free version. Try it!

4. Adding a link to Categories and Tags

I have never done this until recently. I found this incredibly effective. When I linked my cornerstone article to my tags and categories, Google rankings of my webpages had shown improvement. Even though internal links optimization takes time as you just can’t do it overnight. I would suggest start now and with time all your articles will get linked to each other. Link more articles to your tags and categories.

So this was all about internal linking strategy. I found all the above methods utterly useful and gave a massive boost yo my SEO profile. If you have any questions related to internal linking just drop em in the comments below. If you want a free SEO consultation on your website please connect with me.

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