Internal linking, one of the most important factors of any effective on-page SEO strategy is also one of the most overlooked. This strategy refers to the way you link your website pages to one another. And if done properly, site owners often find impressive increases in their content’s visibility.
However, like every online marketing strategy, there are many ways to potentially abuse internal linking. For instance, we’ve all visited sites with an inordinate amount of links in each piece of their content, attempting to lead people to all their pages at almost every opportunity. On some sites, you may find an overabundance of links containing the same or similar anchor text (the link’s clickable text) to serve as their chosen keywords. When search engines see content set up in this way, they often deem it as spammy and choose not to rank it as highly.
How to Properly Set Up Internal Links on Your Site
The goal should be to add internal links to your content in a way that satisfies both search engines and your users. Unlike offsite links (a.k.a. backlinks), you are in complete control of which signals to send from page to page. You can show users and search engines alike how your content relates to the other items on your site.
With that being said, here is our list of internal linking do’s and don’ts to help bring cohesion to your site’s content.
Internal Linking Don’ts
Don’t Rely on Generic Anchor Text
These generic types of internal links usually contain generic anchor text like “click here” or “try now.” These phrases, while helpful in small doses, can become a problem if used too often as they fail to show relationships between your pages.
Don’t Overoptimize Your Anchor Text
You’ll often find sites with a decent number of internal links that almost always contain the same set of keywords in their anchor text. While focusing on your target keywords and variations is good, overoptimization can harm your rankings. Keep your use of keyword anchor text at a minimum.
Don’t Link Too Deep
As a website owner, you don’t want to make search engines (or users) expend more effort than needed to find your pages. Most search marketing experts recommend refraining from linking to pages more than three clicks deep into your website. So, when adding internal links, make sure this applies to the destination you choose.
Don’t Add Too Many or Too Few Internal Links Per Page
There’s no magic number of links recommended to include on your site pages, but it’s imperative to follow reasonable guidelines. If someone sees tons of links on your site page, they’ll likely consider it spammy. Indeed, search engines have this same attitude. What’s more, these crawlers will place less authority on each of these links when the page is crowded with them. On the flip side, you don’t want to have too few links. Try to include a reasonable number that makes sense for users, such as giving them greater insight into your page’s core keywords by linking from them.
Don’t leave orphaned pages
Some sites get into the habit of publishing new content without providing users and search engines ways to find it. Always provide multiple avenues from your older pages to these newer ones, improving ranking flow and visibility.
Internal Linking Do’s
Link to Your Important Site Pages
The main purpose of internal link building, and link building in general, is to drive traffic to your site’s most important pages. These pages show readers what value you can offer them, whether it’s a product or service. Some of these pages may be hard to find on sites, especially if you link too deeply. Pointing users and search engines to these pages via internal links will put this content on their radar.
Link Shallowly to Meet Search Engine Crawl Budgets
Search engines have certain crawl budgets for each website they come across, which means it’s important to make your pages as accessible as possible. Most digital marketing experts consider any page more than three clicks away from your homepage too deep, as this may not fit into crawler budgets. More importantly, users will have a less likely chance of finding them.
Use an Internal Link Analysis Tool
In today’s world of digital marketing, site owners have a wide variety of reputable link analysis tools to choose from. We would recommend using Google Search Console “Links” section, which provides you with a list of your site pages and which internal links are pointing to them.
Use Internal Links to Reinforce Your Site’s Hierarchy
Internal linking can be a perfect strategy for structuring your site. Search engines view sites as a hierarchy of pages; the homepage is deemed the most important, with each subdirectory decreasing in value. By linking to your important pages from the homepage, proceeding with less important pages (blog posts, resources, etc.) on secondary pages, you’ll give crawlers a better idea of your site’s structure.
Link From Higher Authority Pages to Those With Lower Authority
The pages with the highest authority on your site are usually those least removed from the homepage. We know homepage’s most often have the highest authority because they generally receive the most backlinks, and they’re deemed priority pages by search engines. So, by linking from pages you know have high authority via ranking checks, you can send link juice to lower-performing pages. This is especially helpful if one of your site’s important pages isn’t gaining traction.
Revolutionize Your Website’s SEO with Internal Linking
A site with pages locked in their own silos, unconnected, makes it extremely difficult for search engines to crawl and rank your pages. Your users will find it displeasing as well. Building connections between your pages with contextual links will remedy both issues by helping crawlers analyze your site, and allowing people to find the information they’re looking for.
You’ve worked hard on your site content, so don’t let any of your pages fall through the cracks. It’s completely free to implement an internal linking strategy and you can always make improvements as time goes on. And after some time, you’ll see your internal pages gain higher levels of traction.