Imagine the World Wide Web without hyperlinks. You would need to type in a new web address every time you wanted to travel to a new webpage. Mercifully, not only do “links” exist, but they are also plentiful, easy to use, and beneficial for SEO purposes. By clicking or tapping on the anchor element of a link, you can quickly jump to a new location on the internet. Many webmasters already understand that external links to relevant and trustworthy domains are important resources for SEO; they can increase your authority and help Google understand your content. However, many underestimate the importance of internal links and neglect them in favor of their outgoing brethren. Why not take advantage of these excellent assets at your fingertips?
The Importance of Internal Links
Internal links help readers navigate around a singular website, linking from one page on a domain to a different page on that same domain.
Creating a system of internal links is relatively simple. On each page of your site, you will link to other pages on your site based on your site’s architecture using carefully written anchor text. This will help your website’s readers and your SEO due to four critical benefits:
1. Internal links allow readers to navigate the website.
If you don’t link to a subpage, how will your readers know that it exists? Even if they know the page exists, how will they know its web address? And even if you show them the web address, do you really want them to have to copy and paste that web address into their browser?
Internal links simplify the process of navigating a website. Thoughtfully placed internal links can act as guides and shortcuts, helping readers reach content that interests them. You can also guide users on a specific path through your website if you like. For example, you might want a reader to view an informational page about your product before they reach the purchasing page for that product.
2. Internal links establish the architecture of the website.
Search engines use internal links to understand the architecture and informational hierarchy of a website. For this reason, it’s important that you create a crawl-able link structure, allowing spiders to browse your website’s pathways. If you hide or bury your site’s link navigation, search engines’ spiders will struggle to make sense of your website’s structure. They may not be able to access certain internal pages. In fact, they may not even know those pages exist! All of your hard work on SEO may be for naught, as Google might not be able to list the pages on its indices.
You want to make it as easy as possible for Google to understand your domain and its pages. Ideally, your site’s structure should look somewhat like a pyramid, with the most important content (like the home page) at the top and less important pages at the bottom:
From the home page, you can link to main pages, subpages, and deeper subpages. Upon crawling a site with this sort of link structure, Google will better understand the layout of your website and how the pages within it relate to one another.
Although we’re trying to emphasize the importance of internal links, don’t forget that URL structure is also essential in establishing your website’s hierarchy. Always use real words (not symbols) and follow your site’s organization. For example, let’s say the purple dot above represents your “Services” page, and the pink and orange dots beneath it represent your “SEO” and “Web Design” pages. Those three pages would have the following URLS:
If one of the yellow dots represented a page titled “Local SEO,” that page would have the following URL:
3. Internal links spread link equity throughout the website.
Certain pages on your website are more popular and have more authority than others. While internal links can’t increase the overall authority of your website, they can spread ranking power throughout your website. Links pass their value on, and Google divides link value between all links on a web page. Typically, a home page has the greatest link value, and new subpages have lower link values.
If you have a webpage that has high authority and link value because many inbound links point to it, you can harness that page’s power to give another page a boost. Simply link to the weak webpage on the powerful webpage. You’ll increase the weak webpage’s authority and decrease the powerful webpage’s authority by a similar amount.
4. Internal links keep readers on your website.
Once someone lands on your website, it is typically in your best interest to keep them around. Links are invaluable tools because they keep readers clicking through the pages of your website, giving you more opportunities to sell your products or services and increase your brand exposure. Many links also act as miniature calls-to-action, prompting the reader to do something specific, like request a quote, purchase a product, or contact you.
How to Create Valuable Internal Links
Discussing the importance of internal links is all well and good, but if you want to take advantage of this knowledge, you need to learn how to create effective internal links. To ensure your links benefit your website and boost your SEO, follow these tips:
- Identify which of your webpages you want Google to rank more highly. Then, identify which of your webpages already rank highly. Link from the high-authority pages to the pages you want to give a boost.
- Use descriptive keywords within the anchor text, giving the reader a sense of what they’ll see if they click on the link. Do not stuff all of your links’ anchor text with keywords, however, or use the same phrasing every time you link to a page. These are considered “black hat” techniques.
- Consider using a plugin to automatically add internal links to your pages. If you often forget to add internal links when crafting new pages, one of these simple tools might appeal to you. A number of internal link plugins are available on WordPress, and they make linking a breeze.
Never underestimate the importance of internal links. If you make an effort to build effective internal links on your website, you can boost your SEO, help readers navigate your website, and keep those readers around longer.
Do you need help understanding and using the power of SEO? Contact 417 Marketing for help. Our team of knowledgeable, creative, and passionate professionals specializes in SEO, web design and maintenance, and Google AdWords, and we have successfully completed over 700 websites since our inception in 2010. Now that you understand the importance of internal links, you may even wish for us to help you with link building. Click here to contact us and learn more about what we can do for your company.