Internal links are incredibly powerful and yet are often overlooked. They are essential for website usability and optimisation as they improve navigation, user experience, ranking, indexability, and link equity.
By creating a solid internal linking structure, website owners can improve the visibility and authority of their website, leading to increased traffic and engagement in the long term.
What is the Importance of Internal Links?
Internal links are important for both website usability and search engine optimisation (SEO).
Here we will talk through some key reasons why links are important and why you should ensure that you are using them to their full advantage:
Navigation: Internal links help users navigate the website more efficiently, allowing them to find related content and explore different sections of the website. Without internal links, users would be stuck on the one page they landed on, unable to explore further and forced to leave the website in search of a more relevant result for their query.
User Experience: Internal links can improve the user experience by providing additional information and context about the content on the page. Links add relevance and credence to our information, so they can go a long way in backing up our claims with much-needed credibility.
Ranking: Internal links can help search engines understand the structure of the website and the importance of different pages, and how they relate to each other, which can improve the website’s ranking in search results.
Indexing: Internal links can help search engines crawl and index the website more effectively, ensuring all pages are discovered and included in search results. Without them, a URL may only be discoverable in the XML sitemap, which would lead to orphaned URLs, causing additional problems for your content as well as being a missed opportunity.
Link Equity: Internal links can help distribute link equity throughout the website, improving the authority and visibility of all pages. This is the idea that links pass some authority from one page to another. The amount of value that is transferred depends on the authority of the linking page, to begin with, their relevance to the topic and several other factors.
Why do Websites Not Make Full Use of Internal Linking?
There are several reasons why people may not be making full use of internal linking on their websites; these include:
Lack of Knowledge: Many website owners may not be aware of the significance of internal linking and how it can benefit their website’s usability and SEO. Effective training and reading can help to combat this.
Time Constraints: Creating a robust internal linking structure can be time-consuming, especially for larger websites with many service pages or storefronts with vast catalogues of products to manage.
Content Organisation: Poor content organisation can make it challenging to create a logical hierarchy of internal links that provide value to the user. This emphasises the need to set up your website with good foundations, so you have fewer barriers to scaling up your website and content.
Fear of Over-Optimisation: Some website owners may hesitate to use internal linking for fear of over-optimising their website and incurring penalties from search engines. However, unless you are adding links in a spammy way, this should be unlikely.
Technical Limitations: Some website platforms may not provide the necessary tools or functionality to create a strong internal linking structure. Make sure you choose a CMS that suits your needs.
Lack of Resources: Smaller websites or those with limited resources may not have the staff or budget to create a strong internal linking structure. In this case, websites should focus on having a good URL structure and making use of the resources they do have.
By addressing the barrier that could be in the way of a good internal linking structure, website owners can create strong internal links that improve their website’s user experience and search engine visibility.
How to Effectively Use Internal Links
Here are some tips we have collated on how to use internal links on a website effectively:
Use Descriptive Anchor Text: Anchor text is the clickable text that appears in a hyperlink. Use descriptive and relevant anchor text to help users and search engines understand the content of the linked page and what they can expect to see when they click on the link.
Link to Relevant Pages: Internal links should be relevant to the content on the page and provide additional information or context for the user.
Use a Logical Hierarchy: Organise internal links in a logical hierarchy, with the most important pages linked from the homepage and subpages linked from relevant categories. Blog content can be created in silos to emphasise your expertise around a topic.
Use Contextual Links: Contextual links are links that are placed within the content of a page. Use contextual links to provide additional information or context about a topic.
Limit the Number of Links: Too many internal links on a page can overwhelm users and dilute the link equity of the page. Limit the number of internal links on a page to a reasonable amount and only add them where they are likely to provide value.
Update Links Regularly: Regularly review and update internal links to ensure they are still relevant and continue to provide value to the user.
Use Site Search: Use site search to identify pages not linked to other pages on the website and consider adding internal links to those pages to improve their discovery.
Build Scalable Links: Building scalable links is especially important on eCommerce websites and can be done through the use of breadcrumbs, Related products and additional blocks or features such as People Also Bought, Similar Products, Related categories, and more.
Create an Internal Link Strategy: An internal linking strategy should ensure that your internal links only point to canonical URLs on the HTTPS protocol and return a 200-status code.
By following these tips, website owners can effectively use internal links to improve navigation, conversions, ranking, indexing, and link equity on their websites.