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‍Internal Linking SEO Best Practices You Need To Know

James Gibbons

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

Interlinking for SEO

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.

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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. 

5. By linking pages within your website, you can pass on link equity and authority, boosting the visibility of all pages. It is known as the 'rising tide lifts all boats' effect, as all pages benefit from increased authority. Linking success pages to other pages on your website can help to spread the link equity further.

6. Proper internal linking can help viewers find relevant and related content within a website. For instance, when discussing a problem and its solution, anchor text with keyword optimization can be used to direct the reader to an earlier article that explains the issue in more detail. Using different anchor text on each page also helps reduce duplication issues.

7. Internal linking makes it easier for users to explore a website by laying out a straightforward journey to follow and visit multiple pages. It enhances their user experience, increases page time, and reduces bounce rate - two essential metrics to track.

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.

3. Over-linking can lead to a page being linked to hundreds of other pages, making it difficult to manage and potentially confusing for users. It is because the user must click through many pages to find the relevant information they seek.

4. Internal linking can also be used to manipulate keyword rankings. It is done by using too many keywords in the anchor text of internal links, which can lead to penalties from search engines.

5. Internal linking can cause broken links, which can hurt the user experience and your website ranking. It is because search engines will consider the broken link when determining the quality and relevance of your website content.

6. Over-linking can cause internal link cannibalization, where a page competes for search engine rankings. It is because the page receives multiple backlinks from its internal links, which search engines see as unnatural or spammy.

7. Too many internal links can clutter the page and make it difficult for users to find the information they seek. It is because the user will have to click through numerous links to find the relevant information and may abandon the page altogether.

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.

Steps to Perform Internal Links Audit

Performing an internal linking audit is a great way to ensure your website optimizes its link structure to maximize its potential for ranking in SERPs. By using web crawling tools, you can identify broken links and pages with redirects and locate internal linking opportunities for improvement. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to perform an internal linking audit:

Step 1: Run your website through a web crawling tool. It will provide you with a report containing Inlinks (total number of internal links), Outlinks (total number of outgoing links to internal pages), and Indexability (whether a page is indexable or not).

Step 2: Check for broken links. Using the web crawling tool, you can quickly check the Response Codes tab and filter for Client Error (4xx) to identify 404s.

Step 3: Find redirects. This way, you can identify pages linking to outdated URLs and update them accordingly. Check the Response Codes tab and filter for Redirection (3xx) to find any 302s or 301s.

Step 4: Identify internal linking opportunities for improvement. Look for pages with fewer links than other ranking pages, orphan pages that don’t have internal links pointing to them, and essential pages with fewer incoming internal links. You can also check if your anchor text provides the correct page details.

Following these steps, you can efficiently perform an internal linking audit and ensure your website is optimized for search engine results.

How to Add Internal Links Across Your Website?

Adding internal links to your website is a great way to make it easier for visitors to find the information they seek. Internal links create a navigation hierarchy by helping visitors explore your site's content while improving pages' visibility within your website’s structure. Interlinking also has various SEO benefits, as they help distribute link juice throughout your website while supporting keyword ranking.

Here are the steps to adding internal links to your website. 

1. Identify what pages of your website you should link to. Generally, it is good practice to link to pages with related content that could offer the user more value. 

2. Once you have identified the pages to link to, you need to craft the link. It is done by wrapping the words or phrases you want to link to in HTML anchor tags. 

3. You can also use internal links to other parts of the same page. It is done by using anchor tags with a defined target.

4. It is important to note that the URL, anchor text, and target must be relevant to the content you are linking to. Additionally, you should close the link with the tag so that elements in the page will not have the link attribute applied to them later. 

Following these guidelines will ensure that your internal links are correctly set up and will provide value to your human visitors and search engines.

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. Menu/Main navigation link

Menu/navigation links are generally found in the header of a website and are used to communicate to users the website hierarchy. These links are often structured around product categories, services, or critical topic areas. 

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

Interlinking tells the user which pages are “next most important” after arriving on the website. It helps improve user experience and helps search engines crawl and index the website. 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

Footer links are usually permanent and stay consistent as the user moves through the website. These links are mainly used to point users to other important pages they may want to reference. Examples of these pages include contact us, help, frequently asked questions, about pages, and similar resource-type pages. They also allow internal linking to related content, helping your pages rank for relevant terms. 

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.

6. Sidebar Internal Links

Sidebar links are also used to guide the user to other pages on the website, but they are more contextual. Sidebar links direct users to popular or relevant content and is especially useful on websites with a lot of content. Sidebar links help improve the user experience by making it easier to find relevant content.

Internal Linking: Best Practices for SEO

Creating an effective internal linking structure for your website is a great way to improve your website's user experience, help search engines discover more pages, and improve your website's rankings in the SERPs.

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.

You should also focus on creating high-quality content. Creating many internal links throughout your website requires creating many internal pages and writing quality content. This strategy helps you to have ample interlinking opportunities to utilize, and you do not have to worry about complex layers of content. Writing good content allows you to build an excellent interlinking structure for your website.

2. Link out from your most authoritative pages.

You want to link to the most authoritative pages on your site so that search engines and visitors can find them easily. The Authority Transfer technique is an effective way to boost the SEO-driven pages of a website.

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. 

Avoid using similar anchor texts for multiple pages as it confuses Google and may lead the search engines to conclude that the webpage contains information on the same topic. To avoid this confusion, use descriptive anchor texts on web pages.

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.

8. Ensure that Links are Contextual.

When you add internal links to a piece of content, ensure that the linked web pages will match the context of that particular content. The web page you link to is related to the content of the webpage you are linking from. This way, you are providing a good user experience and can also boost your ranking due to efficient internal linking.

9. Be Resoanble with the Number of Internal Links.

Internal links can help draw attention to specific pages on your website, but it's essential to use them strategically and not overuse them. Based on the length of the post, you can add two to five links per post. Going beyond that amount can lead to confusion and negatively impact your website's performance.

10. Place Important internal Links Above the Fold.

Adding internal links at the beginning of an article can help draw readers in and keep them hooked. It is also beneficial for SEO, as it has been shown to increase time spent on the web page and reduce bounce rate.

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.

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

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Internal Linking SEO FAQs

What is Internal Linking?

Internal linking is the process of linking from one page on a website to another page on the same website. Internal links allow a user to navigate different website areas and help search engine robots discover new content on the website. Having quality and logical internal links is vital for improved website usability and better search engine rankings.

Does Interlinking Help SEO?

Yes, interlinking can help SEO. Adding internal links to relevant pages can help search engine bots crawl and index your website more effectively. This will help make sure your content is accessible and that any valuable keywords are indexed and can boost your search engine rankings. Additionally, internal links on relevant pages can give your website visitors better navigation and ensure they stay on the site longer.

What is the Best Internal Linking Strategy for SEO?

SEO's best internal linking strategy involves creating meaningful and logical pathways between related content. You should also use appropriate anchor text and link frequency to ensure that you do not overstuff your links with keywords. Finally, take the time to ensure that your links are correctly indexed and crawlable. Following these tips can ensure a successful internal linking strategy for improved SEO and website usability.

About The Author

James Gibbons

James Gibbons is the Senior Customer Success Manager at Quattr. He has 10 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.

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