An internal link is a link on a domain that goes from one page on that site to another page on that site. The purpose of an internal link is to allow someone who is reading your content to get to related content easily. When people talk about link building, they typically are talking about external links, because even if Google says that they aren’t that important anymore, they kind of still are. External links show the search engines that other people find your content valuable. And if other people find it valuable, then maybe it should rank better.
But often in this process, people are so focused on their external links that they forget about internal links, which are also valuable. When pages of your website link to other pages on your website, it helps the search engines find those pages and understand that they are related. Doing internal linking well can help both your users and the search engines, so let’s explore this a little.
Guidelines for Internal Linking
Make all links useful and relevant. If I’m writing a blog post about how to bathe dogs, I might link to another page where I’ve reviewed different dog shampoos or link to a page on the site where I offer dog washing services. Those are all relevant links. Someone who is reading my content on washing dogs might be interested in those other two pages and might find it useful to click through. Linking to a page on my favorite margarita recipe is not exactly relevant, even if I do like to have a margarita while washing my dog.
Use appropriate anchor text. One of my biggest pet peeves is the “click here” link. Stop doing that! Anchor text is the text that tells your user (and the search engines) what your link is about. It’s also really important for accessibility.
How to use anchor text wrong, using my dog shampoo example above. (Note, links don’t work because I have no strong opinions about dog shampoo.)
To find out more about great dog shampoos, click here.
And an example of anchor text done well.
There are a myriad of great dog shampoos available at pet stores today.
Follow this rule of thumb: Any internal link should be useful and natural to the person reading the content. Linking text in within your content to pages that are already in your navigation are not as useful. You don’t need to link to your homepage every time you type your business name. Focus on linking to content within your site that might not be seen as easily as those in your main navigation menu, such as blog posts, event posts, or products.
Things not to do with internal links
Don’t overuse them. If the search engines see hundreds of links on a page, they’re going to know something fishy is going on and putting all those links will not be helpful at all. The more links on a page, the less value those links have, so use internal links appropriately, but don’t overuse them.
Don’t use the same anchor text for different links. If I’m reading your page and two words or phrases are the same and both linked, they should go to the same page. Having different pages with the same anchor text can confuse both your readers and the search engines.
Don’t link the same words over and over on the same page. Humans who use the Internet understand how links work. If we want to click the link, we will. We don’t need to see the same text linked ten times in one article.
Adding internal links will help your users and help you in the search engines, so be sure to take a few extra minutes when writing content to add in useful, relevant links. You’ll be glad you did.
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