May 14, 2024

Internal Linking: The Beginner's Guide

Vaishnavi Ramkumar
Internal Linking: The Beginner's Guide
Vaishnavi Ramkumar
May 14, 2024

Internal Linking: The Beginner's Guide

Learn the basics of internal linking to improve your website's structure and navigation. Our guide simplifies internal linking for beginners.
Internal Linking: The Beginner's Guide

Table of contents

Internal linking is like the secret sauce of SEO - it's powerful, yet often overlooked. It helps your users navigate through the digital content and provides your search engine crawlers information about your website structure. 

They provide you with information on the hierarchy of your site, helping crawlers understand the most valued to least valued pages. If you want to optimise your content for SEO, this internal linking guide will be a valuable resource for you.  

In this guide, we'll talk about internal links in SEO, their benefits, and how to create internal links for your site.

What is an Internal Linking?

Internal linking SEO

Internal linking refers to the process of creating links that point from one page on your website to another page on the same website. These are not to be confused with external links, which are links pointing to pages on other websites. From homepage menus to in-content hyperlinks, internal links exist in various forms throughout your website. They provide a road map for both visitors and search engine crawlers, allowing them to explore and understand the structure and content of your website.

Internal links are your site's internal hyperlinks, connecting the most relevant pages and helping you understand their context.

Internal Links vs External Links

Internal links and external links serve different purposes when it comes to website optimisation. Internal links are hyperlinks that connect one page of a website to another page within the same domain, helping users navigate the site and establishing a hierarchy for the information. They also help search engines understand the structure and importance of various pages on the site. On the other hand, external links point from one domain to another, providing additional information or referencing sources outside of your website.

While internal links are crucial for enhancing user experience and SEO rankings, external links can improve credibility and authority by directing traffic to reputable sources.

The Role of Internal Linking in SEO

From an SEO perspective, internal links play a pivotal part in shaping how search engines perceive and rank your website. At their core, search engine algorithms rely on internal links to discover content across the World Wide Web. They follow links from one webpage to another, indexing everything they find. Search engines can figure out which pages are essential on a website by following internal links. This helps them understand the website's layout better.

Why Internal Links Are Important for SEO?

Interlinking one page to another is paramount for SEO as it serves three purposes in website optimisation: user navigation, website hierarchy, and link equity distribution. Internal links guide users effortlessly through your website, improving their user experience. They articulate a clear site hierarchy, signifying which pages hold more importance. Lastly, internal links distribute 'link juice' or link equity across your site, boosting the SEO value of each linked page.

Each of these factors works together to enhance your website's visibility, bolster page ranking, and drive more organic traffic. 

Let's look at the benefits of internal linking for SEO:

  1. Help Understand Your Site’s Structure
Website structure in SEO

One of the key advantages of leveraging internal links is their ability to help search engines understand your site’s structure. Each time a search engine crawler visits your site, it follows the chain of internal links to unearth all the web pages and piece together their relationships. It's akin to reading a roadmap – the crawler identifies the main pathways (important pages) and the side streets (less important pages).

When you strategically place internal links, it's like setting up signposts along the road. The search engine crawler can discern the hierarchy and categorisation of the web pages on the website. It gets to know which of your most critical ‘pillar’ pages hold the structure together and what their respective ‘cluster’ pages entail. This structured comprehension allows the search engine to provide more accurate and relevant results in response to user queries.

  1. Pass Authority

Much like a recommendation letter adds weight to a job application, internal links add SEO value or 'authority' to the pages they point to. When an internal link directs to a page, it passes on some of its own SEO authority to the linked page. This transfer, commonly referred to as 'link juice,' helps improve the SEO prominence of the linked page.

More importantly, pages receiving more internal links get a higher SEO relevancy score, indicating their importance within the website. Consequently, these pages have a greater chance of ranking higher on SERPs. By understanding how to use internal links effectively, you can highlight important content for users and search engines.

  1. Help Users to Navigate Between Relevant Pages

From a user experience perspective, internal links act as a navigation tool, making it easier for users to bounce around the different pages of your website seamlessly. A well-thought-out internal linking structure can smoothly guide the users from one piece of relevant content to another, providing them with a more enriching browsing experience.

For instance, when you link internal pages into a section like 'Related Articles’ at the end of a blog post, it directs users to other posts that complement their interests. Similarly, product pages on e-commerce platforms guide users to alternative choices or 'frequently bought together' options. By facilitating this easy-to-navigate experience, internal links keep users engaged on the site for a longer duration, reducing the bounce rate and potentially boosting conversions.

What are the Different Types of Internal Links?

Internal links are not a monolithic entity and vary in how and where they are used in website navigation. By understanding the different types of internal links, you can optimise each to boost both user engagement and SEO value. Internal links typically fall under four categories - Navigational links, Footer links, Sidebar links, and Contextual links. Each type performs a unique function and contributes to creating a cohesive, easy-to-navigate, and SEO-friendly website. Let's dissect these types further for a better understanding.

Navigational Links

Navigational links represent the foundation of your website's internal linking structure. They are primarily based on your main navigation menu, which is typically located at the top of your website pages. Their primary role is to guide visitors and search engine crawlers through the major sections of your site.

  • These links typically lead to key pages, like the homepage, products or services page, about us page, contact us page and blog page.
  • Due to their placement in the main menu, navigational links are present on every page of your website, granting them a high level of visibility and accessibility.
  • As they point to your most important pages, they help distribute much of your site's link equity to these pages.
  • By providing a broad overview of your site content at a glance, navigational links enhance user experience by making navigation a breeze.

Footer Links

Found at the bottom of your web pages, Footer links serve as a secondary navigation system. Although not as prominent as navigational links, they play a crucial role in improving the functionality of your website and enhancing SEO.

  • Footer links typically point to important information that doesn't fit within the main navigational menu. This could include links to your terms of service, privacy policy, sitemap, or FAQs.
  • They also link to key sections of your site, such as departmental divisions, customer support, social media profiles, etc.
  • By placing these links at the page’s end, footers ensure these necessary, though less frequented sections, are always within reach.
  • As these links appear on every webpage, they can help spread some link authority to the pages they’re pointing to.

Sidebar Links

Sidebar links strategically positioned on the sides of your webpage serve as excellent tools for promoting related content or products on your website.

  • These links can guide users to popular or latest posts, product categories, promotional offers, subscribe or sign-up forms, and more.
  • They provide additional navigation options beyond the main menu, offering users alternate pathways to explore your site.
  • By showcasing relevant content or products, sidebar links increase the chances of visitor engagement and conversion.
  • Due to their recurrent appearance on multiple pages, they help distribute a degree of link equity across the site.

Contextual Links

Contextual links embed within the content of a page, pointing to other relevant pages on your website. They are a critical component in enriching user experience and enhancing your SEO efforts.

  • Contextual links provide further reading options to users, directing them to related content that complements their current engagement.
  • They assist in keeping the user hooked on your website for an extended period, reducing bounce rates and boosting page views.
  • As these links use relevant anchor text, they help search engines determine the linked page's theme, improving its SEO relevancy score.
  • By linking out to other related pages, they help establish a web of interlinked content on a similar topic, improving your website's content hierarchy.

How to Build Your Internal Linking Strategy?

Organising your website's internal links requires more than just randomly throwing in hyperlinks; it demands a well-planned, strategic approach. A strong internal linking strategy leverages various elements such as pillar pages, topic clusters, anchor text selection, and more. The objective is to weave a systematic web of interconnected content that streamlines user navigation, enhances the user experience, and boosts your site's SEO power.

Let's delve deeper into how to build internal links for your website strategically:

  1. Identify Your Site’s Pillar Pages

The first step in building your internal linking strategy involves identifying your site's pillar pages. These are comprehensive, broad-spectrum pages that provide an overview of a major topic on your site. For example, if you run a fitness blog, a pillar page could be a detailed guide on 'Weight Training.'

Pillar pages serve as the main hub of a content cluster, around which several related but narrower scoped pages, called cluster pages, revolve. Each of these cluster pages will have internal links pointing back to the pillar page and vice versa.

Identifying your pillar pages gives direction to your internal linking strategy. It helps establish the key thematic areas around which your website's content revolves, ensuring the most important pages receive the focus they deserve.

  1. Create Topic Clusters Using Internal Links

Creating topic clusters using internal links is an effective way to organise your content and boost your pillar pages' authority. Essentially, a topic cluster involves a pillar page and several cluster pages that focus on subtopics related to the pillar page's main topic. All these cluster pages link back to the pillar page, creating a web of interlinked content around a common theme.

This structure not only improves user experience by providing them with related content options but also signals to search engines about the organisation and hierarchy of your site's content.

  1. Choose the Right Anchor Text

The anchor text is the clickable text that users see in a hyperlink. Choosing the right anchor text is essential for an effective internal linking strategy. The anchor text should give users and search engines an indication of the linked page's topic. While it's beneficial to use keywords in your anchor text, it's vital to keep it natural and relevant to the content.

Google has become increasingly adept at understanding the context around anchor text, thereby making over-optimizing or keyword stuffing your anchor text a risky practice. Instead, focus on creating natural-sounding anchor text that informs the reader about the content they'll encounter once they click on the hyperlink.

Here is an example of an internal link using anchor text. In the following image, the anchor texts are variable and diverse. Earlier, you could create the same anchor text and rank for the particular keyword all at once. As Google's algorithm improves, its anti-spam policy prefers pages with diverse anchor texts rather than the same.

Diverse anchor texts and internal links

Make a rule to use anchor texts naturally in your copy, and don't add the same keyword for internal linking.

  1. Identify Your Site’s Authority Pages

As part of your internal linking strategy, it is crucial to identify your site's authority pages. Authority pages are those pages on your website which have a significant number of backlinks pointing to them. By virtue of this, they possess high link equity or SEO 'authority'.

When you identify these pages, they become critical nodal points in your internal linking structure. By linking out from these high-authority pages to other related, less established pages, you can pass on some of the link equity or 'link juice.' This can help to boost the SEO value of the linked pages, enhancing their chances of ranking higher on SERPs.

  1. Support Your New Pages

Remember that every new page you add to your website starts with zero authority. To ensure these new pages get indexed quicker by search engines and start gaining visibility, you need to support them through internal linking.

You can add internal links from existing authority pages to your new page, passing along some of their ‘link juice’. Also, consider adding links from new pages on topic-related, existing pages. This not only reinforces the new page's relevancy to search engines but also facilitates site visitors' discovery of this new content.

  1. Auditing Your Site’s Existing Internal Links

Conducting an audit of your site's existing internal links is a valuable action step in building your internal linking strategy. An internal link audit can help you uncover any issues with your current internal linking structure. These could include broken or inaccessible links, dead-end pages, or missed internal linking opportunities.

Utilise tools such as Google Search Console, Screaming Frog, or Moz Pro to conduct your internal linking audit. These tools provide comprehensive information about the number of internal links on your web pages, the pages with the most internal links, the pages with no internal links, etc. Based on this data, you can make necessary adjustments to refine and optimise your internal linking structure.

Common Internal Link Problems & How to Fix Them

While internal links hold immense potential for bolstering your site's SEO, it's important to remember that not all internal links are created equal. A few common pitfalls can hamper the effectiveness of your internal linking efforts, impacting both user experience and SEO performance. 

These problems may include broken internal links, overloading a page with too many internal links, misuse of 'Nofollow' attributes in internal links, orphaned pages, and excessive crawl depth. Let's delve deeper into each of these common problems and explore how to fix them.

Broken Internal Links

Broken internal links, which point to pages that no longer exist or are unavailable, serve as dead ends for both users and search engine crawlers. They lead to poor user experience and waste your crawl budget, affecting your site's overall SEO performance.

How to fix:

  1. Run regular link audits using SEO tools like Google Search Console or Screaming Frog to identify and fix any broken internal links.
  2. Redirect the broken link to another relevant page on your website, ensuring continuity for the user and search engine crawlers.
  3. Another effective practice is to customise your 404 error page with relevant links so that users landing there can easily navigate back to an active page on your site.

Too Many Internal Links

Having too many internal links on a single page can be overwhelming for the user and dilute the SEO value of the links. While Google can handle hundreds of links on a page, it is generally advisable to limit the number of internal links to a reasonable quantity.

How to fix:

  1. Prioritise and limit the number of links: Select the most relevant and useful pages to link to and eliminate redundant or irrelevant links.
  2. Organise your content systematically: Use a logical structure like pillar pages and clusters to ensure that you're not cramming multiple unnecessary internal links into one page.

Orphaned Pages

Orphaned pages are pages on your website that do not have any internal links pointing to them, making them inaccessible to both users and search engine crawlers. These pages can impede your SEO efforts as they add little to no SEO value to your website.

How to fix:

  1. Identify orphaned pages using SEO auditing tools like Screaming Frog or Google Search Console.
  2. Add relevant internal links pointing to these pages from other sections of your website.
  3. In some cases, you could consider eliminating orphaned pages if they do not add value to your site or users.

Internal Linking Best Practices

Internal linking best practices involve using descriptive anchor text and linking to relevant content within your website. Ensure a strong internal linking structure, directing users to important pages for a better user experience. Use text links in blog posts and pages for optimal link equity distribution. Incorporate internal links in the navigation menu, footer, and content to guide visitors effectively. Conduct regular internal link audits using SEO tools for an efficient internal linking strategy.

1. Link to and From Content-Heavy Pages

Giving more emphasis to your content-heavy pages can augment your internal linking strategy significantly. Content-heavy pages are typically rich in information and possess high value for users. These can include detailed guides, research articles, exhaustive product descriptions, or other similar resources.

Ensure that these pages are well-linked to other relevant pages on your site. This not only increases the visibility of these content-heavy pages, but the detailed, high-quality content also provides ample opportunities for inserting relevant internal links. Remember, the goal is to provide a network of interconnected content that fills the users' knowledge gaps while effortlessly navigating them through your website.

2. Create Text Links Using Anchor Text

Text links using anchor text are a crucial element in optimising your internal linking structure. Anchor texts are the visible, clickable part of a link. They offer cues to users and search engines about the content on the linked page. Accordingly, selecting descriptive, keyword-rich anchor texts for your internal links can significantly enhance your SEO competency.

However, avoid going overboard with exact-match keywords in your anchor text, as it can seem unnatural and potentially earn you a penalty from Google. Make an effort to vary your anchor texts, ensuring they are both relevant and appropriate for the surrounding content. A perfect anchor text should smoothly include the main keyword while offering a precise summary of what the user will find on the linked page.

3. Add an Appropriate Number of Links Per Page

While internal links for SEO are coveted, it is suggested that an appropriate number of links per page be maintained. Overloading your page with excessive internal links can overwhelm your users and dilute the SEO value of the links.

A general guideline is to keep your internal links within a range of 100 - 150 per page. Remember that this includes all links on a page, such as navigational, footer, and in-content links. Each internal link should add value to the user's journey by either providing additional information or assisting in effortless navigation.

4. Update Old Articles With New Internal Links

Refreshing your old articles with new internal links is a strategic way to boost your site’s SEO. As you keep adding new content to your website, there could be newer resources that could enrich your older articles. Going back to these articles and adding internal links to relevant, new content would benefit both users and search engines.

Users get updated resources that offer more comprehensive information. For search engines, these fresh links indicate that the old article is still relevant and updated, potentially leading to improved rankings.

Using Scalenut to find Internal Links

To help you save time spent on link building, Scalenut has come up with a link manager to track link opportunities from the site. Here’s how it works:

  • It crawls the entire site and finds the anchor text that is relevant to the linking pages. 
  • It helps discover the inbound and outbound links for the individual URLs. 
  • You can also get a detailed insight into Link Split in the form of pie chart. So, you can know which URLs have  sufficient inbound and outbound links and which URLs need immediate attention. 
  • Scalenut considers the context and chooses the anchor text and links pages that are closely related to the topic. 

All this can be a big time saver and helps you boost your optimisation speed. Scalenut SEO Assistant comes loaded with various SEO capabilities, such as keyword planning, topic clusters, and its internal linking.

How to Find Internal Links To A Page Using Scalenut?

Scalenut has a dedicated tool that can help you save infinite hours on interlinking. Once you connect your domain to Scalenut, you can access highly relevant interlinking suggestions that increase your on-page SEO strength. 

When you log into Scalenut, the Link Manager can be viewed on the dashboard's right panel. To find the link opportunities, you’ll need to connect your domain first, 

Here's how you can use Scalenut to build internal links:

  • Head to Scalenut SEO Assistant and click on Link Manager. 
Scalenut Dashboard
  • Click on ‘Connect Domain’ and copy the script code to the Header tag of your site. 
Scalenut link manager- connect domain
  • Click on Check Connection to ensure that your domain is connected to Scalenut. Our system crawls the site and provides link insights. 
  • Scalenut gives you insights like Domain strength, link split status, number of outbound and inbound links, and number of pages crawled. 
Link manager insights
  • Scroll down to view your page URLs and available link opportunities. Each page URL displays the current number of inbound links, the current number of outbound links, and the link status (all good, opportunity or action required).  
Scalenut link manager- page URL link suggestions
  • To view individual link opportunities for pages, you can drop your existing page URL on the search bar and click on ‘Recommended Actions’. 
Adding link opportunities to pages
  • Once you click on this option, the link manager displays all the inbound or outbound link suggestions with the relevant anchor texts. Approve and check the links that you want to add. 
Internal link opportunities in link manager


Internal link opportunities in link manager 

While you can manually choose the anchor texts, Scalenut suggests the best places for linking and anchor texts making the entire process effortless. 

Conclusion

Internal linking is a vital cog in the wheel of SEO. It helps you create a structured, user-friendly website that search engines love. From guiding users and search engines through your website to establishing information hierarchy and distributing link equity, internal links have a telling impact on your site's performance.

Always remember: the art of internal linking straddles both user experience and SEO considerations. Keep your user in mind as you create a navigational path with internal links, but also consider the bonus of gaining SEO brownie points by using a well-planned internal linking strategy. Use the insights shared in this guide to optimise your internal linking practice to craft a seamless, user-focused, and SEO-friendly website that ranks high and engages better.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are the No-follow links? 

No-follow links are internal hyperlinks that instruct search engines not to pass any authority or "link juice" from one page to another. These links are typically used for paid advertisements, sponsored content, or user-generated content where the website owner does not want to sponsor or vouch for the linked content.

How many internal links are too many?

There is no hard and fast rule for the exact number of internal links that are considered "too many," as it can vary depending on the content and structure of your website. However, it's generally recommended to keep your internal linking strategy natural and user-friendly. A good practice is to prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to internal linking. Make sure that each internal link serves a clear purpose and enhances the user's understanding or navigation of your website. 

Vaishnavi Ramkumar
Content Marketer
ABout the AUTHOR
Vaishnavi Ramkumar
Content Marketer

Vaishnavi Ramkumar is a content marketer specializing in creating BOFU content for SaaS brands. She believes reader-centric content is the sure-shot way to generate high-quality leads through content marketing. As part of the Scalenut team, Vaishnavi curates content that drives brand awareness and boosts signups. When she's not crafting content, you can find her immersed in the pages of a good book or a course.

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