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Internal Linking has to be the most simple yet most complex part of SEO. You can do it on your own completely. You do not have to contact other blogs, pay someone for a sponsored article, give free food in exchange for a review or anything. You just need to sit down and take a few hours of your time to really plan it out.
Recently I watched a video by Neil Patel, who of course, does not need any introduction if you have stumbled on to this page. The video was about internal linking, which led me to research on this easy yet elusive strategy. I would like to share my findings with you.
What is Internal Linking in SEO?
Before your content can start ranking, Google needs some links to the content, it is known as the World Wide Web, after all, you need links to your website! What we forget is that internal linking is as essential. So, you went out and got a thousand backlinks for your website, but now what? How does Google crawl your website? What is important? What is not important?
This is where internal linking plays an important part. It tells Google which pages on your website have high authority and are absolutely essential and which pages are not ( About Us, Contact Us should ideally have fewer links coming to them than a full-fledged article)
Let us start with an example :
Suppose you have a blog and you are in the affiliate business. You have a cool offer for your viewers and you are going to get a hefty commission for it. It is a win-win for both of you. Let us consider you are an affiliate for a web hosting company, so how should your internal linking structure be?
- You add a link at the end of every post?
- You stuff links wherever possible
- You look for relevant content on your website and smartly use the correct anchor text for driving traffic to a particular page?
You know what you have to do right? Simple? Still many people ignore this part of SEO. I have just started implementing it, and I have got some results already. This blog is only a month old and I am sure as I continue using this practice, it is going to work out in the future!
Well you have definitely read about it on forums, saw discussions about it somewhere if you are in the SEO industry. Well, link juice is nothing but a non-technical term used by SEO professionals to describe link authority.
If Page 1 is linking to Page 2, then we can say that Page 1 is passing link juice to Page 2! It helps Page 2 to rank higher on the SERP.
Now, link juice can be passed internally as well as externally! If another domain is linking back to you, it is said that a website is passing link juice to your website!
The more positive link juice a website has, the more authoritative it will be in Google’s eyes. This helps in increasing your ranking on the SERP. External link juice is essential, however do not forget to build internal links to pass authority to your best web pages!
Well, Google is your friend here! You can use Google Search Console to check for internal links on your website. This can be done in the following way :
- Head over to Google Search Console. You need to create your Webmaster account and verify your property if you haven’t done so already! And if you haven’t done so already, why are you here? 🙁
- Moving on, select the website you want to find the internal linking structure for.
- On the left hand side, you will see a dashboard.
- Proceed to Search Traffic section. Here, you can find the Internal Links section.
- You will see the list of all the indexed pages of your websites and the number of links to the particular page!
What can you do with this data?
Well, after looking at the number of links, you will realize which pages on your website do not have enough internal link juice. Now, you need to figure out which webpages need more link juice.
You can decide this, by figuring out which webpage will help you convert more users. I don’t want to go in detail with this right now, but just figure out your end goal (lead generation, selling your products, affiliate marketing) and pass link juice accordingly.
Apart from this, you can use Yoast Plugin on WordPress to find out your internal linking structure.
Establishing a Relationship between your Content
The Google Bot crawls your website by following links. It is our job to help the bot crawl it more efficiently since there are millions of websites on the internet and it is our responsibility to make the job easier for the bot. The easier you make for the bot, the better your chances of ranking. It is that simple!
So how can you do this?
- All the Content Management Systems have this inbuilt functionality of showing related posts when a user is browsing a particular article. Make sure you use the right tags so similar posts are linked together
- Use awesome anchor tags to link your content. I personally love how Neil does this. He uses his anchor text as a link to another article but makes the anchor text so compelling that it serves as a call-to-action! I usually find myself jumping from one article to another and spend hours reading his content.
- Linking to categories/tags is also a great practice. Suppose you are writing about something new you learnt about SEO, it is a good practice if you link to the category. See what I did there? *wink wink*
Internal Linking Best Practices
An internal link is basically a link where the source and target domain are the same! Let us learn about the best practices you need to observe while building your internal linking strategy
1) More Content = More Internal Links
The title is pretty self-explanatory. The more content you write, the more chance you will get to link related content to each other!
Do not worry about the number of links, no one knows what number is the Optimal Number. Just do not spam links, wherever the link is relevant, just insert it. The only question you need to ask yourself is “Is the user going to benefit from this link?”. If the answer is a resounding YES! then you do not have to worry about anything.
2) Awesome Anchor Text
I request you to search for any keyword and read the top five blogs from the result page. One thing you will find in common with all of them is that they make excellent use of Anchor Texts. Let us see what you think of it :
Which anchor text are you more likely to click :
For more information about building backlinks , refer this article
To achieve the best results you need to adapt this in-depth strategy about backlinks!
There is nothing wrong with either of those links, they both convey the same point. But I know which one you and I are more likely to click. Using good anchor texts is an art! Take your time to think and then use it!
3) Go hard, go deep!
Everyone links to the Home Page and the About Us and the Contact Us pages. That is not new, that is not special. It just makes your website look spammy. These pages are already in the Grid Menu, you are just adding more links and after multiplying it by the number of pages on your website, it all becomes very messy.
So, unless it is a call-to-action like Contact Us when you are promoting an offer, please do not add more links back to your top-level pages. Now I am going to shamelessly take a cue from Moz and illustrate this with an example :
First of all, please appreciate my amazing illustration. *facepalm*
But I think I have made my point, the google bot enters your website at A and crawls A, B, C but since there are no links to D, E, F, G the bot never makes it till there. Now your articles may be one of the best god-damn articles ever seen but if the spider is not going to crawl it, it does not matter. Now I hope you understand the importance of Internal Linking and deep linking.
4) Make sure you use dofollow links
The use of dofollow links is the best practice while building your internal link structure. It passes authority to a particular page and the more authority a page has, the higher chance it has to rank. Goes without saying that, do NOT spam. Google has evolved its algorithm a lot and they know when you are trying to bullshit your way to the top and the only way you are going after getting penalized is down.
5) Number of Links
No one knows what the optimal number for links should be. Keep in mind three things though:
- Links should be natural and not forced
- Links should be relevant
- Use dofollow links
- Make sure that one page does not pass two links to the same page, it is usually a good practice to avoid spamming even by mistake!
Internal Links vs External Links
Backlinks are absolutely essential for your website, however, they are not the only links you should be focusing on. I believe both are equally important, and after reading this article I hope you agree to it! I have started reviewing my articles and finding the best internal linking opportunities.
We have all the control over our internal links, we can see what works and what does not work and change accordingly. We can change our structure if we want to purposely pass more authority to a particular page. Possibilities are endless!
Spend equal time building your backlinks as well as your internal linking structure. I know I am going to fix my internal link structure in the next few days, are you going to do the same?
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