Internal links are those text links that link one page to another page on the same website domain – specifically, those text links within the content on the page, rather than in the navigation.
You will most often find three types of blog posts on internal linking: One will explain the whole thing in an overcomplicated way in an attempt to overwhelm you into paying someone else to do it. The other blog would be a simple explanation of how to use internal link building effectively.
The third is where the difficulty of link building is acknowledged, but with plain language. Too often there’s a need to sound smart, and people think you’ve got to use long, unnecessary words to do that.
The truth is, link building is a straightforward concept. You find the most relevant keywords on a page, and you link those keywords to the page those keywords either describe or name.
For example, this blog post could have internal links to “small business SEO” or “SEO consultants” as these are pages on our website. What’s more, providing links to these two pages is relevant to the topic of this blog post, and could provide value to you, the reader.
If you use internal linking properly, it can significantly improve your overall SEO strategy, which has the knock-on effect of helping to improve your online sales/conversion rate.
Taking the above example, people who read this may want to talk to an SEO consultant. A direct link in the copy provides a discreet call-to-action for a reader.
Neil Patel breaks down the value of internal linking by saying it has three main purposes:
1. It helps with navigating a website.
2. It defines a website’s hierarchy and architecture.
3. It distributes ranking power and page authority throughout a website.
But put simply, the main purpose of internal linking is to make it easier for users to find the most relevant content for their needs, which can help to increase not only your traffic but also your sales (or whatever the conversion goals of your website are.)
Too much SEO talk forgets that the only reason businesses care about marketing is to help them sell more of their products and services. This is exactly what an internal linking strategy can do for you. In fact, it’s one of the most effective ways to drive more of your ideal customers to your website and keep them there.
The longer they stay on your website, the higher your chance of converting them.
So, how do you do this? How can you use an internal linking building strategy to help improve traffic to your website?
In order to do internal linking well, you need plenty of pages to link to. So, step one is to create a lot of content on your website. This can be anything from landing pages to blog posts.
To do this properly, you will need an effective content marketing strategy. This will help ensure your content is on-point and focused on providing value to your ideal prospective customer.
As we mentioned in the introduction, there are those who will try to make this sound way more complicated than it is, and they will bombard you with a whole lot of rhetoric and jargon that is as confusing as it is useless.
All you need to do is create content around topics relevant to your business that will provide value.
The easiest way is to do keyword research with a service like SEMrush, Ubersuggest, WordStream or any number of keyword search tools.
By looking at what (and how) people are searching for content related to your business, you will get the direction you need to create quality, relevant content.
Once you have a ton of quality, relevant content, the next step is to make sure you’re doing internal linking properly.
Anchor text is the words in your content that are linking away to other content on your site. Now, when you create content, the first thing you need to think about is providing value to your reader.
So, when using anchor text, you don’t want to jam a few words into a sentence or write a poor sentence for the sake of adding an anchor link into your content.
Instead, what you want to do is incorporate it naturally into your content. It should not stand out from a reading point of view – but it will obviously stand out because a few words in a sentence will be hyperlinked.
And those words hyperlinked will often be the keyword a page is being optimized for.
For example, you can check out our guide to basic SEO strategies for a powerful boost in traffic, and it will give you a brief look at how internal linking works as part of an overall SEO strategy.
While that example is a bit heavy-handed, you may also do something a little simpler, such as this one on Mark Schaefer’s blog:
As the above example shows, an internal link is part of the content; it flows. And if you want to know more, the link is right there, providing added value through sheer convenience.
Readers, of course, benefit from this added value, but it also helps Google determine a page’s relevance. It does this by crawling pages you’ve created and the keywords associated with those pages. Google can also crawl a website user’s path through a website.
If a reader comes to your site off a keyword, then clicks on internal links and spends time on more than one page of your website, this shows a greater relevance and will help improve your overall ranking.
In the introduction, I mentioned it was possible for us to link to “small business SEO” and “SEO consultants” – we could do this when relevant.
But to get the most value, the example in our last point is better. Linking off to relevant blogs that aren’t in the main navigation is a much better use of internal linking, simply because the pages in the main navigation are easy to find on every page.
Linking to relevant blogs that are less easy to find, on the other hand, makes your entire website easier to navigate, and you get more value out of those pages and posts that aren’t as easy to find.
The two pages you absolutely do not want to waste your internal links on are the Contact Us page and the homepage.
As mentioned in the second point, links should blend seamlessly in with the content a user is reading. Or, if you are going to put text links that aren’t embedded in your content, they need to be relevant to the topic on the page.
For example, on Convince & Convert’s blog, they sometimes break up their longer blog posts with other relevant blog posts, like this:
The blog on which these links are found is about content marketing, and you can see that these links are all related to that same topic in one way or another.
These two ways are the best way to add internal links to your content, as they help to improve your website’s overall search presence. But additionally, they make it easier for readers of your website to have all their questions answered, which can help to increase the likelihood of them becoming a customer.
How many internal links on a page are too many?
The general consensus is that you may as well be asking how long is a piece of string? That is, it depends on multiple variables. Mostly, however, it depends on how long your blog post is and how much content you have on your website.
If you look at Neil Patel’s blogs, for example, they’re mostly around 3000 words, so there are quite a few internal links.
But other, much shorter blogs really only have as many links as is necessary – the number of internal links on a short blog corresponds to how much of that blog a web owner feels can be linked out to other pages on their website.
There was a point when the number was less than 100. But nowadays, there are so many rules and variables that there’s no hard and fast rule. Having said that, keeping to less than 100 does still seem a good idea.
These five steps to setting up an internal link strategy can take a poorly performing site and supercharge its SEO. By selecting keywords and phrases in your page and blog content, you can make more of your site accessible, providing further value to your prospective customers.
By allowing Google and users to see just how much value you offer, you can start to appear on Google for a wider variety of targeted keywords, ensuring as many people as possible find your website.
In this way, internal linking can not only improve your overall search appearance, but also help you generate more leads and conversions.