Internal Links for SEO: A Practical Guide
Why are internal links important for SEO?
Internal links help Google find, index and understand all the pages on your site.
If you use them strategically, internal links can send page trust (also known as PageRank) to important pages.
In short, internal links are a vital tool for any site that wants to rank high on Google.
Three advantages of internal linking
Internal links are important for at least three reasons:
- They strengthen the three parts of the funnel by transferring trust from one page to another (search engine optimization).
- They lead visitors to valuable and relevant content (usability/UX)
- They encourage visitors to take action.
How do internal links influence SEO?
The links transfer the ranking potential from a website to a website, from page to page.
When one page links to another, it transfers some of its trust to that page, increasing the possibility that the second page will rank. Most SEOs call this “authority” or trust.
Links from other sites give your site a “domain rating” that increases the trust (and ranking potential) of all pages on your website. Internal links don’t do this.
What are internal links?
These are links in one domain from one page to another.
They are on every website, but most people don’t realize that internal links can significantly improve a website’s search engine performance when used strategically.
Some of your pages have more authority than others. These are pages that have links from other sites. Your home page is the best example of this.
Links from these pages to other pages will give more authority and SEO value.
Some of your pages will get a little more authority than others. These pages may be ranked, but not that high. Perhaps they rank high on the second page. Links to these pages can help your website take the leading positions.
Linking from page one to page two is easy, free, quick, and can also change rankings and traffic.
A step-by-step way to find both types of pages
A step-by-step way to find both types of pages and the best intercom features:
1. Which of your pages has the most authority?
To do this, you can use SEO tools, such as Moz, or a free tool from the Google Search Console.
In Moz, this is the Most Popular Pages report. It will show all of your pages, ranked by Page Authority. Links to pages with higher powers convey the highest ranking. These are the pages to be linked to.
Missing software? No problem. Just check Google Search Console under the “Links> External Links/Top Related Pages” report. Here are the pages that have the most inbound links and, hence, the most authority. Sort them by Domain Sources. Your home page will most likely be at the top, but scroll down to see the inner pages.
See any old, authoritative blog posts? These are the pages that can get the most ranking potential.
2. Which of your pages has a near-high ranking?
Use Google Analytics for search.
- Go to the report>Search Engine Optimization>Queries. If you are not getting a lot of traffic from your search, just set a longer date range, and you will get more data.
- Create an advanced filter so that you can only see phrases for which you rank above 10 (for example, “average position” is greater than ten and usually means that you are in the top positions on the second page on Google).
- Sort by middle position – this is a list of phrases for which you almost rank high.
- Go to Google and search for each phrase to confirm the ranking and find the corresponding page. Don’t be surprised if some of them are difficult to find. If you have problems finding a phrase from the Query Report in the search results, don’t stop there; just go to the next one.
The SEMrush tool makes it easy to get this data, but you need the paid version (it’s worth it!). Go to Domain Analysis>Organic Research>Basic Search Positions. It has a dropdown menu that quickly filters the rating to show you only two phrases per page.
Also, check the column on the far right. This report shows the ranking of the Page. That’s convenient, right? Google Search Console Report>Queries can’t do this.
Hopefully, you’ve found some great pages near the top of the second page and are ready to get more authority and visibility. Now you know what to refer to.
3. Links from the first page to another.
From a high-authority page, just create links somewhere in the body of the page to a high-ranking page. A few tips:
If possible, use the key phrase in the reference text of the link. For example, a reference text link that says “cable installation tips” will help you indicate what the page says about cable installation. Keyword-targeted anchor text is probably better than “read more” or “click here.”
Does Google take keywords into account in anchor text? Maybe. John Mueller suggested this on Twitter:
Let’s combine all of this into a set of best practices for internal linking. What do these links look like? How much, and where do you add?
- Add internal links wherever it helps your readers.
Think about your users. Can the links added here improve their experience on the site? If the answer is yes, then add the link. It should be natural.
Even if you’re thinking about SEO, add each link with a user in mind.
- Links between pages in the body of the article
The context of each link is crucial. Most SEOs find that links in the body of the text are perceived better than links in the navigation menu or footer.
- Links from new to old and from old to new
Got a new post that relates to an old, valuable post or page? Add links. Do you have an old post that is still getting traffic from search engines or social sharing? Add links.
- Links from pages with high authority to pages that almost rank high
This is how internal links help SEO.
- Links from pages with high traffic to pages with high conversion rates
This is how internal links can expand your list.
- Use descriptive (and keyword-oriented) anchor text in the link text
Use the target keyword of the page you are linking to in the anchor text. The link text that includes a target keyword phrase helps indicate a Google page match.
You may need to get creative to find ways to use longer phrases as links.
- Can’t find ways to use keywords in anchor text? Add “Links”
No need to overthink – just add “Links” after the relevant paragraph, linking to your article, using the headings (which likely include your target keyword phrase) as your link text.
- Make sure every sales page has a call to action.
This is your most important internal link as it drives the visitor to conversion. So make sure you have a CTA on every sales page on your website.
And when you create a CTA, watch your verbs. Click here and Contact Us is not a real call to action.
- Don’t overdo it.
The total number of links on any page, including navigation, should never exceed 75-100. Anything more is too much.
Fewer links mean that each of the links will transfer more trust.
- Find and fix broken internal links!
Wrong links are bad for UX and SEO. You can find them using the proven Screaming Frog app (paid) or just check them in Analytics (free).
Go to Behavior>Site Content and select Page Title as a filter. Then filter this report by “Page not found” (or, whatever your page name, 404).
This report is a list of invalid URLs. Click on any of them, then on “Navigation Summary Above Reports.” Do you see the “Previous Page Path” list? These are pages with broken internal links.
Now that you already know what to do, take a look at your internal links, add them, polish up a bit, and then move on. Don’t waste your time on them. Check your site several times a year and then return to other activities that improve traffic and conversions.