‍Internal Linking SEO Best Practices You Need To Know

Learn How Internal Linking Can Help Boost Your Ranking on SERPS by Following These SEO Best Practices

By
James Gibbons

To create an effective website, you need to take care of a lot of things. Internal linking is one such task that needs attention. 

Internal linking is the practice of linking related content within a website to one another. This can boost your SEO, improve user experience and help users discover relevant information faster. It also assists with indexing and crawling by search engines so that deeper pages in the navigation may be found.

In this blog, we’ll cover what internal linking is, why you should do it for SEO, ways to implement internal linking in your site, and its pros and cons.

What are Internal Links?

Let’s begin with the basics first — what exactly is a link? 

A link is any source connecting two or more digital resources to access and use them more conveniently. For example, links are helpful for websites so that users can get to desired content more easily. If you want your visitors happy, you must ensure they find what they’re looking for as soon as possible.

Internal links are links that point to other pages on your site. They are essential to help improve the user experience, boost your SEO, and assist with indexing and crawling by search engines. 

There are several ways to add links to your website. Some of the most common types of links are:

1. Product/Service Links: Links that point to your product or service pages

2. Navigation Links: Links that link to other parts of your website (e.g., ‘Contact,’ ‘About,’ ‘Products,’ etc.)

3. Contextual Links: Links inside your content that link to other relevant content on your site

Footer LinksLinks at the bottom of your page that link to your other content

Internal Links v/s External Links v/s Backlinks

Links are an integral part of search engine optimization (SEO). Internal links and external links are the two most important aspects of SEO. Internal and external links help you get more traffic to your site. But, they’re different in many ways.

Internal links v/s external links v/s backlinks
Internal links v/s external links v/s backlinks

An internal link is a link to another page or section of your site. It was believed that internal links don't boost your website's authority as you add them yourself. But this is not entirely true, as internal links can help send stronger relevancy signals to your internal pages. 

Using a strategic keyword-rich anchor text for your internal pages, you can send a stronger signal to search bots on what the page is about and rank for multiple keywords on SERPs. 

An external link is a link to a website outside your own. External links are hyperlinks that point from your website to another domain. It is worthwhile to include external links if you want to cite a source or link to more in-depth content about a topic you don't cover.

A backlink is a link from another website to your site. It can be internal or external. A backlink is a link between two websites. They boost your website's reputation and help you rank higher in the Google SERP. In other words, they are like votes for your website. The more backlinks you have, the more votes you get. Backlinks are also one of the most critical factors in search engine ranking algorithms.

How do Internal Links Benefit Your SEO Strategy?

Internal linking is one of the most effective SEO strategies to help you rank higher on Google SERPs. So whether you’re building a new website or trying to improve your current SEO strategy, you should consider adding internal links to your content.

An internal link structure is like an organization chart for your website. It connects related content and sections just as departments in a company connect. This reinforces context, relevance, and the breadth of material on a subject.

Search engines want to see that pages on your website are closely related and that you’re not spreading your content too thinly. Internal links help them discover this structure for themselves. Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines say that a good internal link structure is one of the most critical factors in search engine rankings.

Google wants to see many internal links connecting related pieces of content on your website. This makes it easier for Google to crawl through your website and find new pages that it should include in its index.

It also helps Google know how relevant these new pages are so it can rank them appropriately in SERPs based on their relevance to a given keyword or topic. This way, you get more traffic from Google because your website is more likely to appear at the top of SERPs for relevant keywords. 

While one way to optimize and rank web pages on SERPs is by optimizing them for various keyword clusters, another is through internal linking. Internal linking is a great way to reinforce these keyword clusters and use multiple similar keywords as anchor text for internal linking. 

When search bots are crawling your site and discovering multiple similar keywords pointing to one internal page, you have a chance of ranking for those multiple keyword queries.

The key thing to remember about a good internal link structure is that it reinforces context and relevance. It helps search engines better understand your website so that they can rank your pages more accurately in SERPs.

So, as well as linking related pieces of content together on your website, think about whether you should relate between different topics or subtopics on your site. A good internal link structure helps search engines understand your website and create an information architecture for your website.

What is an Internal Linking Strategy?

An internal linking strategy is a way you decide to link your pages together. Internal linking can help you increase traffic to your site, as well as improve user experience. 

Once you’ve created in-depth, relevant, and helpful content for your readers, the next step is to link these pages together. A linking strategy will help you guide your readers to the information they’re looking for. 

A linking strategy can vary depending on your website. There are many ways you can implement an internal linking strategy. You can: 

1. Automatically add internal links to your content.

2. Link pages with similar topics.

3. Create custom HTML links. 

4. Use anchor text in the content body copy to add your links.

An internal linking strategy helps build the information architecture of your website. It helps provide a clear context of what web pages lie within your sitemap and how it relates to other web pages on your site.

From a user experience standpoint, internal links help users navigate between different pages. Internal linking is also vital for SEO as it helps search bots crawl and understand the relevance and context of each page.

Advantages of an Internal Linking Strategy

1. Internal linking helps and facilitates website navigation. It’s a great way to help readers find exactly what they’re looking for.

2. You can boost conversions by using internal link building. Internally linking one piece of content to the other pushes the user deeper into your sales and marketing funnel. As users consume your content, they will have more questions. You can guide their thoughts by anticipating those questions and strategically adding internal links to your content, and you will prompt people to act.

3. Internal links throughout your content make it easier for search engines to crawl through your site and find new pages to include in their index. This can help you get more traffic from Google because your website is more likely to appear at the top of SERPs for relevant keywords.

4. Keyword-rich anchor texts used for internal linking can reinforce your keyword cluster strategy one web page rank for multiple keyword clusters. 

There are limits to how many internal links you can create, but over time, this won't be an issue for you as long as you stay within those limits.

Disadvantages of an Internal Linking Strategy

1. Internal linking alone can not move the needle for you. It needs to be complemented with other optimization strategies to see shifts in rank on SERPs. Therefore, you must include both internal and external links when implementing a link-building strategy.

Similarly, other SEO strategies like - on-page content optimization, search intent optimization, and page speed optimization need to be taken care of to see the best results.

2. Search engines can see a high volume of internal links as spammy or manipulative behavior. This can lead to penalties like losing rankings or even getting banned from Google altogether. If that happens, all the hard work that went into creating content will have been wasted. So make sure you do not spam and use relevant anchor texts for internal linking.

It is important to keep this in mind when developing an internal linking strategy so that you don’t go overboard with the number of links in each piece of content or page.

Internal links are probably the most underutilized SEO strategy because it is manual and time-consuming. Adding internal links to a website with hundreds of pages is possible. But when the number of pages increases, the effort does not keep up and often results in a negative user experience for users. In addition, old internal links can become broken links and frustrate the user, who may land on a 404 page.

Hence having an internal linking strategy in place and regularly updating it is essential.

How to Add Internal Links Across Your Website?

Internal linking is all about guiding your visitors to the content they’re looking for efficiently and seamlessly. If your visitors can find what they’re looking for without searching, they’ll be satisfied with your website. 

If you’re just starting, you probably have many questions about where to start. Here are some tips that will help you with internal linking:

1. Make navigation easy.

When working on your website’s navigation, ensure it’s straightforward and easy to use. For example, don’t place too many pages in your navigation bar, as it will confuse the user.

2. Create a linking structure.

Internal linking lets you connect your pages and create a link structure that helps readers navigate your site. It’s recommended to use around 10-15 links per page.

3. Use natural linking patterns.

A linking pattern is a way you link your pages together. When creating your linking pattern, try to make it look natural. Avoid linking to pages that don’t make sense to be linked together.

4. Use anchor text in your links.

When linking to other pages, include anchor text in your links. Anchor text is the clickable text that appears in blue underlined text. Using keywords in the anchor text will help you increase the ranking for that particular keyword.

Now that we know about these helpful tips. Let us look at the steps required to build a robust internal linking strategy.

Read Google webmaster's guidelines on writing anchor link text.

Step-wise Guide to Build Your Internal Linking Strategy

When starting out, it is important to have an internal linking strategy in place. It is also equally important to refresh your strategy roadmap when required. This can be done by following these steps:

Step 1: Define your internal linking strategy

The first step in building an internal linking strategy is to define what you want to accomplish with your website. It is essential to understand that every website has a unique strategy. The best way to determine your internal linking strategy is using the SMART framework (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound).

Step 2: Map out your most important web pages

Creating a list of the pages you wish to link together is vital. The pages you choose should be relevant and have content valuable enough for users. You can then start creating links between these pages. Of course, you do not need to have links between all the pages on your website. It’s okay if some of them don’t have any links at all as long as they are logically connected through other links on the site.

Ideally, figure out the most important pages of your website and focus on linking between these.

Step 3: Create a link hierarchy between topics and sub-topics

The link hierarchy is the order in which you should prioritize the internal links on your website. This will help you decide what goes where and how many links can be used for each of the sections. You need to decide on a link structure that is easy to understand and use while at the same time being user-friendly.

Step 4: Start with internal linking to the homepage

One of the most important pages of your website is the homepage. This is where most of your traffic will come from. Therefore, having a robust internal linking structure going to and from the homepage is crucial. You should start by creating links between different sections of your homepage and then go on to create links within each section as well as going outside of it.

Step 5: Create a content map for your website

A content map is a list of all the content that you want to include on your website. Every content must be linked to at least one other piece of content, whether it’s another page, an image, a video, a PDF file, etc. 

It's not required that you link every piece of content with another piece of content, but it’s important that they at least have one link going outwards or inwards towards another page on your site.

Creating this structure will help increase the overall search engine visibility for each page and the entire site. Once you have defined what kind of pages you want and where they can be linked within your website, you can start creating links based on their relevance and importance for users visiting your site.

Step 6: Decide on the anchor text for these links

Once you decide which pages you wish to link together, it’s time to choose what anchor text should be used for each link. Anchor text helps users understand where they will land when they click on a link. For example, if a user clicks a link with the anchor text “Learn more about us” and lands on another page with “About Us,” they would be confused and frustrated! So instead, use keyword-rich anchor text that matches with user search intents, and they will be more likely to stay on your site.

The anchor text should also include the keywords you wish to rank for. This will help the search engines understand what you are trying to rank for and how well your site is ranking.

Different Types of Internal Links and their SEO value

Some internal links are more valuable than others. For example, Google has filed patents in which PageRank is distributed differently based on the likelihood of users clicking a link. You can read more in Bill Slawski’s post on the Reasonable Surfer Model.

There are multiple ways to add internal links across your website. Let us discuss some common practices and compare them based on their added SEO value.

1. Body content links (editorial links)

The most common and straightforward type of internal link is one you create from your page's body content. For example, you simply place a link at the end of a sentence or phrase on your page, usually in the form of an anchor tag.

Internal linking SEO on blog pages
Adding internal links organically in a blog

They provide context and authority to the destination page, which is why they are the most important types of internal links for SEO. When compared to navigation links that appear on every page of your website, these types of internal links pass more page authority from the linking page to the destination page.

2. Breadcrumbs

A breadcrumb is a type of menu that allows visitors to browse through your different pages. You can place links to your other pages in the breadcrumb menu, which will result in more internal links to those pages.

In addition to improving UX, breadcrumbs make navigation easier for users since they can jump back and forth between different areas of the content hierarchy. Additionally, they assist search engines in discovering important sections of your site by telling them how your content is organized.

3. Main navigation link

Your navigation links are important because they appear on your website. As a result, search engines will index the pages they lead to, and those pages will receive a share of the link authority flowing through your navigation links.

Internal linking SEO best practices for navigation menu
Main navigation internal links like the website header menu

This is why it’s essential to use keywords in your main navigation links because you want search engines to discover those pages and index them for the keywords you want to rank for. 

4. Site-wide footer link

You can also add a site-wide footer link at the bottom of each page on your website. These internal links are less valuable than body content links but still pass some SEO value from one page to another.

Internal linking SEO on the footer of a website
Internal links to key pages in the footer of a website

If you want to create an internal link that passes even more SEO value than a site-wide footer link, you can use breadcrumbs in combination with site-wide footers. This allows search engines to discover more pages on your website and index them for relevant keywords.

5. CTA or links in buttons

You can also use a call to action (CTA) or links in buttons to create internal links. However, these internal links are the least valuable because they are added for conversion and are usually not optimized for the keywords that the page ranks for, and search engines don’t know what each link leads to.

Using rich anchor texts for internal links in buttons
Using rich anchor texts for internal links in buttons

But if you want to add a link to a specific page, this is an excellent way to do it. You can use CSS styling to make the link match the button that it’s placed in. This will make your website more visually appealing and ensure that users don’t click on the wrong button.

Internal Linking: Best Practices for SEO

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when adding internal links to your website:

1. Make sure all your pages are linked. 

Your pages don’t have to be linked to each other but should be linked to your homepage. This way, Google and your visitors can easily find everything on your site.

2. Link out from your most authoritative pages.

You want to link out to the most authoritative pages on your site so that search engines and visitors can find them easily.

Pro Tip: Your homepage is the most authoritative page of your website. So make sure to link out to a handful of your top URLs from your homepage, if possible.

3. Use target keywords in anchor texts.

You should always use keywords in your internal links. This helps give search engines context on what the linked page is about. It also provides context to the user and encourages them to click on the link. 

4. Use keyword-rich anchor text in buttons

If you want to add a link to a specific page, you can use CSS styling to make the link match the button that it’s placed in. This will make your website more visually appealing and ensure that users don’t click on the wrong button.

5. Fix broken internal links.

If you have broken internal links on your website, Google will penalize you. So check your internal links regularly and fix any that aren’t working.

6. Use breadcrumbs in combination with site-wide footers

Breadcrumbs can be a great way to pass even more SEO value through internal links than a site-wide footer link. This allows search engines to discover more pages on your website and index them for relevant keywords.

7. Use dofollow links.

Links that are dofollow pass SEO value to the pages they link to. This is especially important on internal links because you want your most authoritative pages to get as much SEO value as possible.

Internal linking is one of the best practices to drive traffic to your site. An effective SEO strategy can help you rank higher on Google SERPs. A well-planned internal linking strategy will help you guide your readers to the information they’re looking for. It’ll also help Google discover your pages and include them in their index.

Internal Linking Practices to Avoid

While it is important to know what to do, it is equally important to know what not to do when it comes to internal linking. So here are some practices and black hat SEO techniques to avoid. Adopting these can flag your domain on search engines and tank your SERP ranking for multiple web pages.

1. Don’t have duplicate content on your site.

Don’t have multiple pages with identical content (such as a homepage and an about page). If you do, Google will think both pages contain duplicate content, which is bad for SEO.

2. Don’t link to irrelevant or low-quality pages.

You want to link out from your most authoritative pages so that search engines and visitors can find them easily.

3. Avoid linking to a dead-end.

You don’t want your users or search engines stuck in a dead-end, like a page that does not exist or seeing a 404 error when they click on an internal link.

4. Don’t create redirect loops.

When linking between two pages, don’t create a redirect loop (which happens when one page redirects back to itself). This is bad for SEO because search engines don’t know how often they should follow the redirects before reaching the final page.

Scale & Optimize Your Internal Linking Efforts with Quattr

While we understand the importance of having internal links on your website, the process can be tedious. 

Existing tools fail when you have millions or even thousands of pages that need to be linked to each other. Recommendations that simply have a list of important URLs and anchor text keywords are not enough. It makes the manual process more time-consuming and does not ensure regular updates of your internal links. 

The Quattr platform makes this task easy and automates your internal linking efforts. Automating the internal linking process ensures you are up-to-date with your internal linking strategy. It also helps you provide a smooth user experience and avoid users finding broken links. 

With Quattr’s automated internal linking process, you also help provide context to search bots. The Quattr platform looks at the historical performance of web pages on SERPs and prioritizes its recommendations to help you frequently link the most relevant pages. In addition, Quattr gives you various anchor text options to target multiple relevant keyword clusters and make your internal linking efforts contextually relevant to the source URLs.

Within two simple steps, Quattr gives you a list of what links to add, where to add them, and suggested anchor text you should use. 

Simply add the list of URLs for a topic or category where you want to add internal links (Source URLs) and provide the list of URLs for pages you wish to link to (Target URLs). The Quattr platform will take this input and generate the internal linking recommendations. These link mappings can be reviewed within our link explorer UI and are made accessible via an API for enterprise-scale across websites with millions of pages.

Internal Linking SEO with Quattr
Internal Linking Optimization with Quattr

You can then share this list with your content and engineering team and start adding internal links to multiple web pages. In addition, the list includes monthly clicks and impressions for the Source URLs, which helps prioritize your team's efforts to focus on top pages first.

About The Author

James Gibbons

James Gibbons is the Senior Customer Success Manager at Quattr. He has 9 years of experience in SEO and has worked with multiple agencies, brands, and B2B companies. He has helped clients scale organic and paid search presence to find hidden growth opportunities. James writes about all aspects of SEO: on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.

About Quattr

Quattr is an innovative and fast-growing venture-backed company based in Palo Alto, California USA. We are a Delaware corporation that has raised over $7M in venture capital. Quattr's AI-first platform evaluates like search engines to find opportunities across content, experience, and discoverability. A team of growth concierge analyze your data and recommends the top improvements to make for faster organic traffic growth. Growth-driven brands trust Quattr and are seeing sustained traffic growth.

Automate & Scale Your Internal Linking Efforts with Quattr right now!

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