How to make Internal linking of the website for SEO - what it is, why it's important, top tips and a guide to action

How to make Internal linking of the website for SEO - what it is, why it's important, top tips and a guide to action

User retention and optimizing search engine visibility are some of the most important tasks for website owners. Internal linking allows you to solve both of these tasks in one action. I often do this on my sites and in this article I want to describe how to do internal linking correctly.

What it is

Internal link — is a link from one page on your site to another page on the your site.

External link — is a link from your site to another site.

Internal linking — is the process of connecting pages on the same website using hyperlinks. Links help users navigate through the site, improve navigation between pages.

There are several subject terms used in the process of relinking:

  • donor - referring document
  • acceptor - the document referred to
  • anchor - link text

Why it's needed

Improved site indexing - having additional links to a page allows search engine bots to crawl it more often. This way you improve both initial indexing of new pages and content updates of existing pages. If there are not many internal links to your page - it may not get into the index and you will not get traffic.

Link weight distribution - each page of your site has its own static weight, plus the weight of external links from other sites transferred to it. Internal linking helps to increase the weight of pages of one site without using linkbuilding. This improves the authority of pages for search engines.

Improving behavioral factors - search engines closely monitor user's behavior after going to your site. The task of a search engine is to provide the most useful answer. If the user has found answers to his questions and stopped the search session on this question - it is considered that he found the answer on the last site he opened.

If you give complete information and links to its new sources - increases the chance that the user will stay on your resource, which will be positively evaluated by search engines. 

Improved visitor retention - apart from the technical impact on search engine rankings, user retention will have a positive impact on the site's business metrics. Advertising sites will get more impressions, shopping or service sites will get a higher probability of conversion, and so on.

Valuable content - it's not without reason that various compilations or expert content with sources are popular. If you fully disclose the theme, visitors may return to the website again and again.

Basic principles

Let's break down the basic things you need to do or consider for quality internal relinking.

General Links

Start by prioritizing sections of the site. These can be major product categories, important articles, marginal products, or important landing pages.

For most of these addresses you need to make a through linking on the entire site. Include links to them in the header menu, sidebar, footer. In this way they will receive the highest link weight from almost the entire site.

But don't go overboard with the number of such links - use the most important ones. The more less important links you organize in this way, the less weight/attention the most important ones will get.

Anchor text

Anchor text is thematic text that can be clicked on in a hyperlink, located between tags <a></a>.

Use a variety of anchors that accurately reflect the content of the linked page. This will help search engines understand the topic and context of the linked page and increase SEO effectiveness.

Use synonyms and different words from keyword queries, as well as non-anchored links like "link", "here", "in the article" or as a URL address (but URLs are more likely to be used for external links, within the same site not necessarily).

Different formats

In addition to inserting links into the text, you can use interface elements: categories, tags, filters, collections. This process can be partially automated or simplified by using the opportunities of the site's CMS.

Link from higher level sections to sub-sections, link neighboring sections to distribute link weight and guide users through the different levels of the site.

Monitoring and updating

The presence of a large number of internal links on the site over time turns into a problem of unnecessary redirects and broken links, which negatively affects the indexing of the site. 

Regularly check your site for broken or outdated internal links. Use tools such as Google Search Console, Screaming From SEO Spider or third-party link checking programs to identify and fix any broken links.

Finding relevant pages

For the most effective linking, the donor page (which links) should be relevant to the acceptor (to which it links). Since we are linking pages of the same site - we can use a trick with Google search query operators to find the most relevant pages.

Take a few popular keyword queries of the page from the semantic core. If you don't have a core, use your head and think about what query should be used to search for this document. You can look in the "Queries" tab in Google Search Console.

For example, we want to do internal linking of a category in an online store. Most likely, we will need to add links to several other categories, articles and news.

In the search engine, documents are displayed in descending order of relevance to the search query. We need to place a link on the most relevant pages. We just need to get a list of such pages on the site we are working with.

To do this, use the website search operator - in Google, for example, enter a query like query

Example of searching for relevant pages for internal linking in Google

At the same time you can check for semantic doubles and page cannibalization - when due to various errors not the target page is more relevant, but a page similar to it.

Once you've collected a list of 10-20 URLs, check if there is a link to them. Where there is no link - think of a place where it can be organically inserted, and actually insert it.

These actions are desirable to carry out when creating new pages to make them faster indexed, as well as to improve positions close to the top queries - the page will get a little more link weight and this may have a positive impact.

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