Many website operators pay little attention to internal links. This is a serious mistake, as internal linkings play a crucial role in the user-friendliness and visibility of websites.
Internal links are linkings to subpages within a domain. They are also known as hyperlinks. In contrast, external links (backlinks) link from another domain to your own.
While there is a lot of talk about backlinks when it comes to SEO, internal links often fall by the wayside. However, good internal linking contributes to the success of websites. In addition, unlike external links, you have full control over internal links.
Why is internal linking so important?
Skilful internal linking yields advantages on two levels:
For the search engine
Even with large websites, only a small proportion of the subpages usually have backlinks. This is why internal linking is so important. With its help, the search engine crawler can index the individual subpages of the domain. It learns more about the thematic connections and the relevance of subpages for certain keywords. If a subpage is not linked to internally, it may not be indexed. It practically does not exist for the search engine.
It should also be noted in this context that you can use internal links to distribute the link power that a page receives through backlinks to other (sub)pages. The following applies: The more link juice a page receives through external links, the more it can distribute via internal links.
As you can see: Ideally, external and internal links work together to increase the visibility of your website.
For the user
Like crawlers, page visitors orientate themselves with the help of links. Links in the navigation play just as important a role as links in the content.
Good internal linking helps users quickly find what they are searching for. This contributes to lower bounce rates and a longer dwell time. This in turn has a positive impact on the ranking of pages.
Important: With internal links, you have more freedom than with backlinks. Theoretically, you can set as many internal links as you like. You also don’t have to worry that keyword links will lead to a Google penalty. ‘Bad Neighbourhood’ is also not an issue when it comes to internal linking.
Tips for Internal Linking – how to utilise the potential of internal links
- Use central keywords for anchor texts: We have already addressed this: Unlike with backlinks, it makes sense to use keywords for internal links. Make sure that these match the target content. Preferably, this should always be the main keyword of the target page. For example, a suitable anchor text for a link to this text would be “internal links”.
Google’s Search Engine Optimisation Starter Guide states:
[T]he better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate and for Google to understand what the page you’re linking to is about.
This clearly shows once again that “here” or “link” is not a good anchor text.
- Place links in the main content: Make sure to link in the main content. Links in the footer have low priority.
- Make links recognisable as such: Ideally, links should be underlined and/or highlighted in colour.
- Links should make sense thematically: Think like a user. Links only fulfil their purpose if they fit the content and make sense where they are placed. You can even use links in the text to create a second navigation by setting links that are the user’s next logical click. This way, visitors won’t have to wander to the top or the side of the page to take the next step.
- Favour flat link hierarchies: Make the click depth of menu items only as deep as necessary.
- Set up a breadcrumb navigation: Both users and search engines like breadcrumb navigations.
- Remove broken links: Check your website regularly for broken links and remove them.
As a general rule, the more clicks an internal links receives, the better. Google also emphasises this point.
Take internal links seriously. This is how you could conclude this text. Because visitors and search engines alike are happy about skilful internal linking. With relatively simple measures, you can benefit from more visibility, more traffic and more customer satisfaction.