Internal Linking SEO – What, Why and How?
This time I am not just going to tell how link building will be helpful or how you can do proper SEO.
I will definitely not speak of those on page SEO practices that you have grown up hearing at every second blog.
But I will definitely speak about one important SEO practice that most bloggers do wrong. Yes, internal linking is the most ignored and overlooked aspect of on page SEO and I will describe all about internal link building and how to do correct internal building to rank higher on SERP.
What is internal link building?
Internal linking is the technique of Search Engine Optimization to link one post to another in such a manner that increase blog or website’s usability to the readers and provide them more relevant content to read.
In plain words,
Internal link building or internal linking is the process of connecting one page/post of a website to another page/post with relevant information by means of a hyperlink. Here both the source domain and the target domain are the same.
Why should we do effective internal linking?
Effective link building comes with many benefits that would ultimately help you in proper rankings. Here are some of the benefits of internal linking.
1) Proper navigation:
Internal links on a post and a page help you to access other pages of the website through them. This will help a visitor in navigating through your blog posts.
2) Providing relevant data to readers and search engine bots:
With internal linking you tell the audience that there are other posts/information on the site that is related to the text they are reading or has some additional information. This also tells the bots the same thing and increases the credibility of the site.
For ex: In my post on Genesis child themes I gave a link to the post that contained my review of Genesis framework. This will help bots, as well as readers to know that I have another article that is relevant to the context.
Moz has an interesting image to illustrate this:
3) Help decrease the bounce rates:
Yes, when a reader reads an article on your blog and finds a link that relates to a similar post or a post that takes the discussion further you can expect him to stay longer on your site. This will in turn lower your site’s bounce rates.
4) Pass the link juice to other pages:
When one page of your site is ranking and has a higher page rank or authority you can place a link (in the high ranking page) to a relevant post on your blog that is low in rankings. This will pass the link juice to the linked page and that page will start performing better.
How to do internal link building?
Internal link building is a form of art; the “art of SEO”. This is in a way like building backlinks to your blog on your own blog. It does everything that a backlink does from passing link juice to bringing more traffic and enhancing search engine rankings. In order to do effective internal linking you have to take a look at the following points.
1) Have lots of content:
In order to link and index more you need more content. You cannot simply go with seven posts and start link building. In this way you will end up making very few internal links. What’s worse is you won’t have relevant links unless all those seven posts of yours are on different topic.
So, for this you need to write content. Write huge number of articles on your niche topics and then internal link them to other relevant posts you have written.
2) Link pages and posts and vice versa:
WordPress pages and posts are similar in appearance but are two different things. For example your about page is a page and the regular blog posts are your posts. In order to pass the rankings to your pages too you need to show them the light of the Google sun. Yes, you should link your pages equally on your posts.
For example: I have linked my about page at a relevant and convenient place on this point. You can link your services/ tools and resources and any other pages in your posts as far as they are not totally different in context.
Similarly, you can link your posts in your pages. One burning example is my resources page. I have cleverly (WooHoo!) linked my review posts on the related blogging resources so that the readers find an additional data on the topic.
3) Link the higher authority pages of your site to the less popular/authoritative pages:
In order to truly utilize the value of internal links you need to pass the link juice from pages with higher authority to the ones that have low page authority. I recommend using open site explorer for it.
- Go to open site explorer.
- Type your homepage URL.
- Click on the “top pages” button.
- Now you get the top pages by page authority. You can open up these pages and link to your own pages that have weak page authority.
4) Use proper anchor texts:
Using proper anchor texts can make your internal links appear fair in the eyes of Google. They will also help the readers to know what the link opens up for them when they follow it. In case you have a doubt on what anchor texts are, let me tell you that anchor texts are the texts that are used to place the hyperlink on your posts. In the previous point 2, I have linked my blogging resources page using the words “resources page”. Here the words “resources page” are my anchor text.
You won’t want to mess with Google by having super optimized anchor texts. Google considers exact match texts as spam. You cannot link a post titled “how to shave a cat” with the anchor text “how to shave a cat”. This will unleash the Google animals on your blog.
You can simply link it on the go without any more optimized texts. Just do it as the time demands.
5) Link sibling pages:
I did not mean fun in any case. Sibling pages here refer to pages/posts that have any relevancy. You won’t want a link to your “car garage” website from a “dog keeping” website, will you? Now this will apply for your internal links too.
If you are running a multi-niche site or a site that has a single but diverse niche chances are your posts must be of varied topics. You should therefore not link your posts to others not relevant posts.
For example: you should not link a page from your “SEO” post to a post on top ten Hollywood celebrities. (Example applicable, as I said, if you have a diverse multi-niche site).
6) Do follow your internal links:
When you link to some of your posts within that same domain you would want the bots to actually crawl them. It is also a common believed fact, as stated by Danny Sullivan that no follow links will help you get recognition by showing you don’t sell influence. But in this case, internal links should be allowed to pass freely.
In 2005, when no follow attribute “rel= nofollow” was brought into SEO scene it was not taken much seriously but nowadays it is used and recommended to no follow links that pass link juice to any external site that has less ranks than yours. Passing link juice to your own site is always a good practice so follow all your internal links.
7) Don’t add a heck number of internal links:
Given you read the above benefits of internal linking from my site or heard of it from any other site I fear you have already left to your blog and started adding links.
If so, I shout wait, read this point. You should not stuff your pages with too many internal links. Nobody, not even Matt Cutts knows how many links is the right number of links. But, you should not go for more than 100 links per page. You might be wondering 100 links is way too much but if you have a well-structured and long post it’s a small feat.
Tools to help you in internal link building:
In order to doing internal links effectively you need certain tools and plugins. Of course you wouldn’t need them if you were using a very small blog or site with just a hundred or some few posts. You also wouldn’t need tools for effective internal link buildings if you have been doing it since the beginning. But you can use so many plugins for internal linking from the WordPress repo to ease your task. I have described some of the most used WordPress tools and plugins for automating internal link building and dealing with broken link building.
- No follow plugin: This plugin has very significant effect. Though it is not directly related to internal links but you can use it to make the links you add either followed or no followed; as per your wish.
- Internal link building plugin: Internal link building plugin is the tool to automate your internal linking process. You can add keywords and specific URL will be attached to them after the content. This way you can link the specific words for which you want a link to be indexed. You can also no follow the links in case of affiliate marketing.
- Internal linking for scheduled posts: Have a lot of content to be published after a given time? Want to internal link it to? This simple plugin will assist you in adding internal links to and from.
Over to you:
Internal linking has its own significance. Like I said, over doing it can ruin your SEO strategy. With proper internal linking and a said ratio of internal vs. external links can surely get you in the good books of Google. Through exclusively practicing internal link building with white hat tricks you can even resurrect a page that is on the verge of losing its ranking or even has lost its ranking.