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What is Internal Linking and What are the Best Practices for SEO?

As link builders here at NORTH, we talk a lot about digital PR and building external links from big publications. But something we probably don’t shout about enough – which is just as important in SEO – is internal linking. 

Optimising your website’s internal linking can have a huge impact on your organic search visibility. By enhancing navigation, distributing authority, improving user experience and underpinning keywords, great internal linking is a crucial tactic in SEO.

In this article, we’ll dive into everything there is to know about internal linking in SEO. From defining the term to optimisation tips and tricks, here’s everything you need to know.

First, let’s start with the basics and understand what internal linking is in SEO.

What is Internal Linking in SEO

Internal linking in SEO refers to the practice of connecting one page of a website to another page within the same domain through hyperlinks. These links serve multiple purposes, primarily enhancing website navigation and distributing page authority and relevance throughout the site.

By strategically placing internal links throughout your website, you’ll be able to guide visitors to relevant content, improve user experience, and signal to search engines the importance and hierarchy of various pages. 

Internal linking can also help search engine crawlers discover and index new content, potentially boosting the visibility of a website’s pages in search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Are Internal Links Good For SEO?

Internal links play a vital role in optimising a website for search engines, which is why internal link building is such an important tactic in an SEO strategy.

By connecting different pages within a website, internal links facilitate easier navigation for users and search engine crawlers, ensuring that all content is easily accessible and indexed. These links distribute authority and relevance throughout the site, helping search engines understand the importance of various pages. 

Internal links can also establish topical relationships between content, which can enhance the overall keyword relevance of a website. When implemented effectively with relevant anchor text and within a logical site structure, internal linking can improve website visibility, increase organic traffic, and contribute to higher search engine rankings.

How Many Internal Links Per Page Are Best For SEO?

Choosing the best number of internal links per page for SEO depends on various factors, including the size and structure of the website, the content depth, and the user experience goals. 

While there is no fixed rule, a general guideline is to include enough internal links to facilitate navigation and provide additional relevant resources for users without overwhelming them. The best SEO content always puts users first, so always ask yourself “are these internal links helping my audience?”.

For smaller pages or those with less content, a handful of well-placed internal links may suffice to connect relevant topics and pages. On more extensive pages or content-rich websites, a higher number of internal links may be best to ensure full coverage and accessibility.

The focus should always remain on quality over quantity, with internal links placed contextually and naturally within the content to enhance user experience and SEO effectiveness.

Internal Linking Best Practices

Here are some key best practices to ensure that your internal linking helps bolster your site’s SEO performance and user experience:

1. Make sure your links are relevant

Ensure that internal links are contextually relevant to the content they are embedded within, directing users to related topics or resources.

2. Add keywords to your anchor text

Optimise anchor text for internal links with valuable keywords to provide users and search engines with clear signals about the linked content’s topic.

3. Always put the user first

Integrate internal links seamlessly within the content flow, avoiding forced or excessive linking that may disrupt the user experience.

4. Organise your site’s structure

Organise internal links in a logical hierarchy that reflects the site’s structure, guiding users through different levels of content depth.

5. Link consistently 

Maintain a consistent internal linking strategy throughout the website, ensuring uniformity in anchor text usage and link placement.

6. Avoid orphan pages 

Ensure that all pages have at least one internal link pointing to them, preventing pages that may not be discovered or indexed by search engines.

7. Audit your internal links

Regularly review internal links to identify opportunities for improvement, such as updating outdated links, adding new relevant links, or removing redundant ones.

8. Avoid excessive linking 

Strike a balance between providing helpful internal links for users and avoiding excessive linking, which can dilute the value of each link and appear spammy to search engines.

9. Use mobile friendly links

Ensure that internal links are easily clickable and accessible on mobile devices, optimising the user experience for mobile users.

10. Check for Broken Links

Regularly scan for and fix internal broken links to prevent user frustration and maintain website credibility.

How to Find Internal Links in a Website

Crawling and auditing the internal links within your website is important so that you can optimise accordingly. There are a number of ways you can do this.

One of the easiest ways is to use website crawling tools like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb, which scan the entire website and provide detailed reports, including all internal links. This is so quick and effective, providing you with a list of internal links in a spreadsheet that you can then analyse.

You can also use web browsers’ built-in developer tools to find insights into internal linking by inspecting elements and viewing the underlying HTML code. Simply right-click on a webpage, select ‘Inspect’, then hover over elements to highlight corresponding areas on the page and view the HTML code, revealing internal links embedded within the website’s content.

Another approach is to analyse sitemaps, either the XML sitemap submitted to search engines or the HTML sitemap accessible to users, which typically list all internal links within a website. 

To find a website’s sitemap, you can navigate to the website’s root domain and append ‘/sitemap.xml’ to the URL for the XML sitemap, or ‘/sitemap.html’ for the HTML sitemap. Alternatively, many websites include a direct link to their sitemap in the footer or navigation menu, providing easy access for users and search engine crawlers alike.

Once you have identified your internal links, you’ll then be able to analyse this data to ensure that internal links are contextually relevant with keyword anchor text, strategically placed, and contribute to a logical site structure.

 

For more information on internal links and guidance on your overall SEO strategy, get in touch or read more on our blog