If you’re new to the wonderful world of SEO (or search engine optimisation, as you may know and understand it), chances are that you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with all the industry buzzwords and jargon terms that you’re suddenly confronted with. And yes, there are a lot of them!
SEO is very nuanced and there’s a huge amount that goes into it… and what makes it even more confusing and difficult to navigate is that the landscape changes relatively frequently, so it’s important to keep up to date with how search evolves over time.
This means you’ll be able to make the necessary adaptations to your site as and when required to ensure it remains visible in the eyes of search engines.
There are some examples of best practice that do remain constant, however, and internal linking is one of these… hyperlinks that help to build the internal structure of a website, directing visitors to different pages within that site to help them find what they’re looking for.
From a reader perspective, internal links are of excellent value because they help make websites easier to navigate. If people are able to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, they’ll stay on your site for longer and are less likely to go elsewhere, which means your site conversions are more likely to increase over time.
But internal links also represent excellent value from a search engine perspective, as well. These links help you establish a viable SEO-friendly site infrastructure that search spiders are able to crawl.
Without these internal links, spiders have nowhere to go, so you’ll help direct them and index your site more effectively if you have a strong linking strategy backing you up.
How to build internal links
The first step to creating a robust network of internal links is making sure you’ve got lots of amazing content. If you don’t have the pages, you won’t have anywhere to link to, after all.
Once you’ve written the content and built the pages, you can start adding in your links, using anchor text rather than linkable images… but remember that your anchor text should be relevant to the page that it’s linking to so users know where they’re going and what to expect when they get there.
Hot tip: Avoid hyperlinking your keywords most of the time as this can potentially be flagged as black hat SEO, which could have an impact on your rankings over time. Yes, you can hyperlink keywords and phrases occasionally but as a rule of thumb, go for something relevant that isn’t an exact match.
Also bear in mind that the deeper you go with your internal links, the better. It’s tempting, of course, to link to the homepage or the Contact Us page, but businesses often make the mistake of linking to these two far too much… and they’re both surface-level pages that aren’t necessarily the most valuable ones you have on your site.
The best way to ensure that your internal linking strategy is on point is to put your customers at the heart of what you’re trying to do. It’s all about making sure you’re giving your readers value and that you’re driving engagement… and this will really help your organic SEO goals, so it’s a total win-win!
Can you overdo internal linking?
Once you’ve got to grips with the idea, internal linking is actually really simple… and, because of this, it can be easy to get carried away with it all. Before you know it, your pages are drowning in hyperlinks, here, there and everywhere.
Something to bear in mind when producing content and building your links is word count. The longer your piece of content is, the more internal and external links you can include.
However, it’s not an exact science and common sense generally comes into play in this regard and you may be able to tell simply from looking at the page in front of you whether there are too many links or not enough.
The Google bigwigs themselves say that too many internal links on one page can dilute their overall value, so it’s important that you do get the ratio right.
Last year, Google search advocate John Mueller explained during a Central SEO hangout that internal links can help search engines understand site structure more effectively… but too many links connecting to many different pages can actually be confusing, since there’s no real structure there to speak of.
“It’s like this one giant mass of pages for this website and they’re all interlinked, we can’t figure out which one is the most important one. We can’t figure out which one of these are related to each other. And in a case like that, having all of those internal links, that’s not really doing your site that much,” he was quoted by the Search Engine Journal as saying.
Mr Mueller went on to say that link value can be damaged if the structure of the site is obscured by too many links, as search engines then struggle to work out what’s most important on the site itself.
So, in short, stronger signals are sent to search engines if you have fewer internal links.
Less is indeed more!