Internal links for SEO

One of the most important ranking factors is the number of links pointing to your site. Google looks at these links, determines their quality and ranks your website accordingly. So before your content can rank, it needs links. But which type of links are best - internal links or external?

Every website consists of internal and external links. Internal links connect pages and posts on your own website and external links connect your page to other websites. Going about external link building in the right way will provide you with lots of high quality external links. You can target websites that have a higher domain ranking than yours and a link from them will push up your ranking.

This article focuses on how to develop quality content and superior internal linking techniques which will help improve the quality of your site and push your up the SERPs.

Create content - lots of it

The first step is to create lots and lots of quality content (content marketing). The more content you have then the more opportunities you have for internal links. By creating content, you are creating pages to link to.

You can never have too much content on your website as long as its quality content. If Google perceives it to be quality content then the links that you make from this page will be perceived as quality links too.

Your site then becomes like a massive spiders web of quality pages linking to quality pages. The quantity of pages builds up, the number of pages indexed by Google carries on growing and the number of internal links grows too. Everybody's happy.

Select your anchor text carefully

Try not to use images too much for your internal links. Some image links are fine (as they can be attractive for the end user) provided you use alt tags on them. But for the most part you should be using anchor text for your internal linking.

There is a tendency to use the same anchor text for each specific link. For example, if I'm linking to my web page on What is SEO? I could use What is SEO? for the anchor text for all my links however Google will look at this with disdain. It looks contrived. The best approach is to diversify anchor text: just be natural and use lots of different anchor texts for your internal links.

Think about what the reader wants. In the example above, the anchor text would read a lot better if I used what is search engine optimisation from time to time. Its a lot more natural for the reader.

Only use relevant links

Don't just link for the sake of linking. You'll spoil all that hard work that you've put in to get visitors to your site. Only link to pages that are relevant to what you are talking about. Internal linking is not just for Google; its to benefit your customers too.

Say for example I have a page about donkeys and a page about ice skates. It is conceivable that I could conjure up some text which would allow me to link the page about donkeys to the page about ice skates, however it would probably spoil my train of thought when writing and, consequently, the readers too.

Go deep!

Scream if you want to go deeper. Aaaahhhh!

If you think about it, your home page and all of the pages on your main nav bar already have links to them from every page on your website. Therefore there isn't a lot of point linking to them.

The best approach is to link deeper into your site to pages that are relevant to the reader. Google will get that you're trying to help the reader and reward you for it accordingly.

Remember: the best links are deep within the structure of your site.

Follow the links

A nofollow link is a link that does not count as a point in the page’s favour and doesn’t help its placement in the SERPs. No follow links get no love. Theirs is a sad and lonely life.

We don't want no follow links on our site. We want all the links to have the rel=follow attribute so we can spread link love around the site. This helps our Google rankings as Google likes these types of links. Using nofollow links is not a strategy you should be using as part of your internal content links.

So, how many internal links should I have

According to the internal linking page at Moz:
Search engines all have a rough crawl limit of 150 links per page before they may stop spidering additional pages linked to from the original page.
Bear in mind that your page already has lots of links on it before you start adding your own. Take a look at the source code and count how many <a href> tags you have which link to external assets, analytics, CSS files, navigational elements, etc.

There is an argument that the more pages you link to, the more link juice you lose to these pages. However, In your own site, that isn't really an issue.

The real answer here is that no-one really knows how many internal links you should have on your web pages. The best thing to do is to focus on the user and only link to content that is relevant to them within the context of your article.

As Google is very focued on user experience, this strategy will always stand the test of time. Any SEO Consultant worth their weight will confirm this.

Personally, I add around 3 - 4 internal links per article and that works for me.

Final words

As I started off by saying, without links you can't rank. An organic internal linking strategy helps to identify related content to the search engines and, most importantly, your readers. The other benefit is that it shows which articles you place more value on. Following the guidelines above will help both Google and your readers understand your site better. This will result in happier readers and higher rankings.

SEO Consultant

This article was written by Gaz Hall, a UK based SEO Consultant on 13th February 2020.

Gaz has 20 years experience working on SEO projects large and small, locally and globally across a range of sectors.

If you need any SEO advice or would like him to look at your next project then get in touch to arrange a free consultation.