By building the right type of internal links, both visitors and search engines will view your website more favorably, which can have a long-lasting and positive impact on your site’s performance. When developing a website, you should plan an internal linking strategy so that visitors can easily access all of your site’s pages.
This guide explains how.
Relying strictly on your website’s main navigation links won’t work. As visitors consume your website’s content, they’ll look for links to related content.
What Are Internal Links?
These are characterized by the use of a target URL containing the same domain as the web page on which it’s published. In other words, they guide visitors to another page on the same website when clicked.
Most websites contain a combination of internal and external links. The difference between them lies in the domain of the target URL. All links have a target URL; it’s the address specified as a link’s destination.
If a link’s target URL contains the same domain as the web page where it’s located, it’s classified as an internal link. If a link’s target URL contains a different domain than the web page where it’s located, it’s classified as an external or outbound link.
Why Your Website Needs Internal Links
Without links, visitors may struggle to navigate your website. These links assist visitors with navigation by guiding them to other related pages of content.
When reading a blog post or article about landscaping tips, for example, a visitor may click an internal link to a page about weed prevention.
Internal links distribute link equity, also known as link juice, more evenly throughout your website. Each page on your website has a specific amount of link equity that influences its search rankings as well as the search rankings of the pages to which it links.
If you build 10 links on a page, the 10 pages to which you link will receive one-tenth of the original page’s total link equity.
You may notice that your website ranks higher and for more keywords in the search results after filling it with lots of high-quality internal links. Search engines assess these links to determine which pages are popular.
If you link to a particular page on your website many times, search engines will recognize the page as being popular. In response, search engines may rank the page higher or for more keywords.
How To Create Links
Simply highlight the keywords you want to link to another page on your website. Using the editor, select the LINK Icon and search for the page on your website. Alternatively, you can enter the URL of the page.
You can also use a tool that suggests links throughout your content. Check out Link Whisper.
Build with Relevant Anchor Text
Avoid using generic anchor text like “click here” or “visit now”
when building internal links on your website. Each internal link should have relevant anchor text that describes its target URL.
Relevant anchor text helps visitors understand what a link is about without clicking or following it. If you build internal links using generic anchor text, visitors may be reluctant to click them. After all, most visitors click links to access specific content.
With relevant anchor text, you can tell visitors what your website’s internal links are about.
Search engines will also look at anchor text to determine the keywords for which your website’s pages should rank. If you build internal links to a page using a specific keyword in the anchor text, search engines may rank the page higher for that keyword.
Integrate Naturally into Content
In addition to using relevant anchor text, you should integrate internal links naturally into your website’s content. Don’t just create a list of internal links at the bottom of a page.
Instead, include them naturally in articles, blog posts, interviews, white papers, and other text content.
Research shows links within content attract more clicks than those published above, below or otherwise outside of content.
Visitors naturally fixate their attention on the bodies of text content.
They may look at other elements on a web page, but most visitors focus their attention on the content body. If internal links are placed outside the content body, visitors may overlook them.
Stick with Either WWW or Non-WWW
You can build internal links either with or without the www prefix, but you should stick with a single format. Search engines treat www pages and non-www pages as separate entities.
Therefore, building an internal link with the www version of the target page and another internal link with the non-www version may restrict the page’s rankings.
Search engines will only index one version of any page on your website. If you build internal links to both the www and non-www version of a page, Google and Bing will only include one of those versions in their index.
As a result, any internal links pointing to the other version of the page won’t offer any search engine optimization (SEO).
Use Nofollow When Appropriate
For most internal links, you don’t need to include the nofollow HTML attribute. There are a few exceptions, however, in which the nofollow attribute can prove useful.
If you’re linking to sponsored content on your website, for instance, the nofollow attribute will help preserve your site’s rankings and authority.
If another marketer or business owner paid to publish an article on your website, you should use the nofollow link when linking that page.
Another instance in which it’s appropriate to build links using the nofollow attribute is user-generated content (UGC).
If visitors can create their own pages, such as user profiles or forum threads, internal links pointing to those UGC pages should have the nofollow attribute.
Here’s more from Google on using the proper nofollow attribute.
Balance internal links with External Links
Of course, you should balance your website’s links, with both internal and external links. Only publishing links to internal pages is a surefire recipe for failure.
External links show search engines that your website isn’t afraid of affiliating itself with other websites, which typically results in more favorable search rankings for everyone involved.
What’s a proper ratio of internal to external links? Some SEO experts recommend using a ratio of 2-to-1, whereas others recommend a ratio of 3-to-1 or even 4-to-1.
With that said, there’s no universal internal to external link ratio that works for all websites. Just remember to include at least some external links in your website’s content.
Regardless of your website’s purpose; affiliate marketing, dropshipping, direct e-commerce, local business promotion, or other purpose, a linking strategy will help your website succeed.
They guide visitors to other pages of related content while simultaneously improving your website’s navigation and even its search rankings.