Why is internal linking so important?
Internal linking is not only one of the most vital aspects of SEO, it’s also one of the most vital aspects to having a usable website. In short, Google uses internal links to help discover new content and new pages.
Let’s say that you publish a new web page and forget to link to it from elsewhere on your site. This is a very common mistake when people put together a website and it can cost them dearly. If we assume that the page doesn’t have any backlinks, then Google won’t know it exists. That’s because their web crawler can’t find it when going through the different branches of the site.
Google must constantly search for new pages and add them to its list of known pages. Some pages are known because Google has already crawled them before. Other pages are discovered when Google follows a link from a known page to a new page.
Pages with no internal links pointing to them are known as orphan pages, meaning they have no connections or “parent” pages, hence the term orphan.
So, why not just internally link your pages everywhere? Well, its not that simple. Simply it’s not all about quantity; the quality of the link also plays a vital role. The links need to be natural. They need to be in the right places and actually have a positive impact to your customer journey. Anything too spammy or a piece of content made up of nothing but internal links will be seen as a negative on the customer journey of your site and thus penalised.
So, you have a page that you want to rank for but there’s no obvious place to internal link it? Perhaps its internally linked but not enough? Perhaps the page you want to internally link from has no way to naturally and relevantly put an internal link anywhere on the page?
Well, here’s three ways that you can implement an internal link besides the obvious ways of putting it within the content or on the navigational bar.
“Related Post” Section
Have you ever read a blog post for example that has a “related post” section? Maybe you’ve been on a product page and there’s a section beneath the product you’re looking at showing “items you may be interested in”. Well, this is a fantastic way to internally link on your site without forcing a link within the content. It also often allows you to add a picture in a section like this, which may well in turn also see an increase in click-through-rate.
Breadcrumbs are an internal linking process that is often most utilised by ecommerce sites. This is because if there are various models of a similar product, a customer may want to view each of the pages before making a decision. Here is Argos for example:
Each section, or breadcrumb, is an internal link to a page previously on the customer’s journey. If they want to go back to the technology section, they can do so in one click, despite it being 3 or 4 pages ago in their consumer journey.
This means from a customer standpoint, it makes navigating your website easier, meaning the customer is more likely to spend more time on various pages and in the long run- convert.
Outside of being a nifty way of keeping your customer on your site, it also allows internal links to be placed to pages throughout the website, meaning a page such as the technology page is internally linked to from every single technology product, through the breadcrumb at the top of the page.
If you own an e-commerce site and want more insight into how SEO practices can be applied to your site to maximise its potential, please see our SEO for Retail page.
Blogs are the final, often overlooked, way of placing internal links onto your site. Writing a blog post can be time consuming and it might not be seen as worthwhile if your blog posts generate a low reader count. However, beyond their practical use of getting information out to your potential customer, they can also act as a perfect vessel to internal link to pages on your site.
By discussing a relevant topic on your blog where you can internally link to one of your pages, you are creating a natural, non-spam link. This is on top of the practical purpose of a blog as well as keeping your site constantly updated, which Google looks favourably on.
The most important thing to remember when increasing your internal links is to not force it. The link should be created with the reader in mind, not just rankings. Anything that you do purely for the sake of SEO, without any consideration for people, is spam.