At its core, search engine optimization (SEO) relies on a thorough understanding of control: Making strategic maneuvers in areas you can control will influence your success in places you can't—e.g., Google's most recent search engine algorithm.
One tactic can be to provide high-quality, content-rich keywords and phrases your clients are searching for.
Taking steps to optimize ranking factors, and thereby influence your ranking on Google's search engine results pages (SERPs), is the primary goal of natural SEO.
There are, of course, many components of a successful SEO strategy, but real control over your results can come at a premium.
Fortunately, besides content creation, there is another powerful SEO technique you can engineer 100% in your favor: internal linking. It's one of the most crucial—and least understood—SEO strategies a digital marketer can use.
This article serves as a brief guide to building your internal link profile, and it will help you learn link placement strategies, the types of links you should include, and the number necessary to compose a strong link profile and drive better SEO in the process.
What are internal links, and why are they so important?
Like any other link type, internal links are a digital pathway to other online pages: External links connect to pages in another domain; internal links connect the pages within your domain to one another.
Internal links help your human users and artificial crawlers from prominent search engines to navigate your site and locate the content they want to read or index.
Developing an effective system of internal links and building a strong internal link profile serves a few essential purposes:
- It allows for site indexing. For Google and other search engines to rank your page, and for human site visitors to click through to your site, they must be able to locate that page among the billions of others. Providing external links to your page allows site crawlers to begin indexing your site; then they use internal links to discover new pages.
- It eases your website navigation and site performance. For real people, providing a common-sense internal linking structure makes moving from one page to another on your site simple to do. Building internal links helps guide users to relevant information as well as to your sales or conversion pages.
- It helps distribute expertise, authority, and trust. If you've had an eye on harnessing the power of SEO, you need to develop quality content and direct user traffic to your highest-converting pages, potentially by establishing backlinks from external pages high in expertise, authority, and trust, or EAT.
EAT power effectively diffuses into your site by indicating to Google that other site owners see your content or products as highly valuable, increasing your potential page ranking.
Similarly, establishing an effective internal linking strategy distributes your ranking power to the individual pages on your site, increasing your odds of ranking higher on the SERPs for their content and driving traffic where you need it the most.
These five SEO tactics will maximize your internal linking power
Building a solid internal link structure for your website helps you harness all the power your SEO strategies have developed, increasing your page rank in the process.
So, how do you do it effectively? These five SEO tactics are a great place to start.
1. Provide links within relevant, valuable content
Although your menu hyperlinks and contact links are important internal links, the most valuable internal links you can employ reside within your page content.
Linking within your content tells your users that the linked content is high quality and important enough that you want them to view it as soon as possible. It also indicates the content's EAT to Google's crawlers.
With that in mind, make sure the linked content is relevant to the current content to ensure that human users as well as site crawlers perceive additional value from viewing it.
2. Use natural anchor text
Linking within your best content to other valuable pages aims to make your ranking power flow throughout your site; however, your readers' focus ison your content and product or service offerings, not the inner workings of your SEO. Ensuring that your anchor text flows seamlessly within your content keeps the user experience intact.
Meanwhile, adding relevant keywords that accurately describe the anchor text links' content indicates what both human users and crawlers can expect to find there, and it boosts your SEO in the process.
3. Link to (and from) essential and popular pages
Although internal links embedded within your page's primary content provide the most SEO benefits, you can still use your page's headers, sidebars, and footers to your advantage. Ensure your site menu is comprehensive and accurately reflects your page's hierarchy. It should feature your most critical pillar content.
Consider adding a footer or sidebar section that will travel with the user through your site and link to your most popular or most recent content, which is likely to be your highest-traffic content that transfers the most ranking power.
4. Link to pages deep within your site structure
It is also important to direct links at pages deeper within your site structure to ensure crawlers and human users can access every corner of your website. As important as it is to encourage easy access to critical pages such as your homepage, contact page, and primary service pages, you've likely already provided prominent links in your site menu.
Take the time to link to more in-depth, relevant content within any new content you publish; doing so ensures that as much of your site as possible can be thoroughly indexed. A good rule of thumb is to provide enough internal links to allow users to access any page within five clicks from your homepage.
5. Use the right number and the right type of links
Much analysis has been dedicated to the optimal number of internal links on a webpage, with averages ranging between 75 and 100. Although that number seems high, it includes all internal links, in your page menu and within the content.
Unfortunately, stuffing links into your content appears spammy and can send users elsewhere. Worse, linking indiscriminately can stretch your ranking power and Google's crawl budget (determined by your pages' perceived value) too thin.
* * *
By giving proper attention to your internal linking strategy via the strategies outlined in this article, you can regain much-needed control over a factor that draws user traffic and determines how your pages rank on Google's SERPs. You'll also ensure that you're serving the most useful, relevant content to your users, which encourages them to remain on your page and convert into paying customers.
Harnessing your ranking power and building a more robust internal link profile go hand-in-hand. Pursuing both via a comprehensive SEO strategy can help provide you with site traffic that lasts—and, as a result, revenue. .
More Resources on Internal Linking
You may like these other MarketingProfs articles related to Search:
- A Complete Guide to Anchor Text Optimization in Four Steps
- An 11-Step Plan for Improving Your SEO Strategy [Infographic]
- Five Ways to Get Keyword Ideas for Your Website: A Beginner's Guide
- A Marketer's Guide to SEO in 2022: Franco Valentino on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
- How Many Words Do People Use When Searching Online?
- Three SEO Trends Marketers Need to Know in 2022