Whenever the topic of SEO comes up, so too does the subject of internal linking. For some professionals, it is one of the most important ingredients of getting pages to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), while to others it plays second-fiddle to external links and content creation.
While the precise value of internal links is not known, denying their overall SEO value would be premature. Practically all webmasters should be using them as much as they can, if only to help users navigate their websites!
What Are Internal Links?
First thing’s first – a definition:
Internal links are hyperlinks that link one page on your website to another. In technical terms, they are hyperlinks that point at “targets” within your domain.
In other words, the source and target domain are the same.
Internal links differ from external links. By definition, an external link is a link where the source domain is different from the target. So if company A’s website has a hyperlink that connects to a page on company B’s website, then it is an external link. By contrast, if a link on one of company A’s pages links to another of company A’s pages on the same domain, it’s an internal link.
Why Are Internal Links Important?
In the past, Google primarily ranked pages based on the number of external incoming links they received. It was a proxy for the relevance and quality of a page – like a scorecard. But internal links are crucial too.
As Google explains, internal links help its website crawlers find content on your site and list it in its search index. Without those links, it would be hard for the search engine to discover all your content.
They Tell Google About The Relationship Between Your Content
Google crawls websites using software called Googlebot. This algorithm starts on your website’s homepage and then follows all the links to map and index the site. This way, it is able to list the pages that cover a similar subject matter, link them together, and suggest them to users in search results.
Just like external links, internal links tell Google about the importance of your posts. The more within-domain hyperlinks a post has, the more critical it probably is for users.
So, for instance, as a business, you might create a pillar post with multiple sub-articles all linking back to the main page. Naturally, the central post is the most important since that’s where most users will start. So creating links from all the subsidiary posts tells Google to treat it as the most important for users.
They Help users Navigate Your Site
The second (and most intuitive) reason for internal links is that they help navigate users and enrich your content. Ecommerce sites, for instance, might embed links in their blogs to product pages, negating the need for users to navigate complicated menus.
Internal links can also direct users to related content. For instance, if you already discussed a topic in another post and only want to mention it in passing, you could give users the option of clicking a link to another article that discusses it. They can then read up on it quickly before returning to their main article.
Usually, you will link to posts that provide foundational material for your current post. So if you know some readers might not have come across a particular concept before, then creating an internal link makes a lot of sense.
They Determine The Relevance Of Your Pages
Lastly, internal links help to tell Google about the relevance of your pages to users. When a user types a brand-related keyword, the search engine will use internal links to present the most valuable pages to them.
Most businesses, for instance, want to direct prospects to their website’s homepage – a place they can navigate to the specific products, services or content. So, naturally, most websites have a link structure that highlights the homepage as the most important. Sometimes there are exceptions, particularly if you are following a non-standard linking strategy, but these are rare.
The theory behind internal linking is well understood. Inner linking provides clear paths for Googlebot to travel down, allowing it to map out your site accurately. However, internal linking isn’t just for SEO. It also optimises user experience and encourages prospects to stay on your pages longer. And ultimately, that’s what you want for making sales.
If you’re looking for an SEO Agency in Hobart, don’t hesitate to contact the team at FWRD Digital.