What Are Internal Links?
As anyone will tell you, before you can get your content and website to rank, it needs links. That means that other pages need to link to yours, but you need to have your own links as well. That’s precisely where internal links come in and why we’re going to answer the all-important question, What are internal links?
This text will give you detailed answers to all the burning questions you have on internal links: what they are, why they matter, how they work, and a lot more. After finishing it, you’ll know everything you need to know about internal links and how to use them in the best way possible for your site.
With all of that in mind, let’s start this internal linking guide. This knowledge will give a boost to your SEO, helping your website rank even better than before.
Before we explain the best ways to implement internal links, it’s vital for you to understand their definition.
To put it simply, internal links are hyperlinks that lead you to another page (the target) of the same domain where the link is located (the source).
That’s a more technical internal link definition, but a layman’s one would be this:
An internal link is any link that takes you to another page on the same website.
Simple, isn’t it? But why do these matter aside from the fact that they’re the only way to lead visitors from one page to another on your website?
Image Source: Neil Patel
Why Internal Linking Matters
We’ve given a basic answer to the inquiry, What is internal linking? But for a more detailed understanding, you need to see the importance of internal links and why they matter to Google and your SEO.
To determine their importance effectively, it’s best to simply list what makes them useful.
- Internal links allow every user to quickly and easily navigate a site.
- Internal links spread their ranking power around the website, making each new page as valuable as the other.
- Internal links create a hierarchy of information for a website.
- Internal links matter to Google because they help its bot determine the value of the content on the site and what it’s related to.
Understanding these four important facts can explain why such links matter and help you answer, What is an internal link?
What Anchor Text Is and How It’s Supposed to Look
The anchor text is the visible part of any link—the part your website visitors click on.
This is important to both the visitor and to Google. It’s what will entice your visitors to click on the link, which is precisely why it matters to Google.
The anchor text is also hugely important because Google pays a lot of attention to the correlation between it and the actual content on the page you’re linking to. That means that anchor texts need to be quite descriptive.
Anchor text needs to give an adequate explanation of what the person clicking the link will find there.
However, you can’t go overboard when providing an internal link with anchor text. It can’t be too long because the link itself shouldn’t be too long. No one wants to see a whole sentence as a link; we’re sure that you can agree with that.
So what should your anchor text look like?
- It can be an exact match of what it’s linking to—a keyword, to be more precise.
- You can use a variation of the keyword in your anchor text.
- It can be the name of a brand if it’s linking to something from that brand.
- A hint in this internal linking guide: If an image is linked, you can use the text in the alt attribute of the image as the anchor text.
All in all, you need to make your anchor text concise, not generic, and relevant to the page it’s linking. Also, it won’t hurt if you don’t go too far with keywords, i.e. your anchor texts shouldn’t rely on keywords too much but instead include regular words as well.
Best Practices in SEO
Internal links and SEO are directly correlated because internal links are the most useful part of making sure your site is SEO-friendly.
Why is this the case?
To simplify things, we’ll just tell you that the spider Google sends to scour your website needs a way to reach every page on your site. That means that your site needs to have a crawlable link structure. In translation, your pages need to be connected to your homepage. Those not connected to the main page need to be connected to pages that are linked to the main page.
The following images may help you properly answer, What are internal links? After all, you’re probably already imagining a big spiderweb where your homepage is its center and the webpages are basically all the points connected to the center via threads. If that doesn’t help, imagine a sort of pyramidal structure where the top is the home page, and it branches out to other pages, those pages to more pages, and so on.
Google’s spider must be able to visit all the links on your site. It can only do that if all your pages have links connecting them to the main page or other pages, which themselves are connected to the homepage.
Internal Texts and Link Structure
Now you understand how links should work on your site. But how should internal text structures look? How should each link be structured for your website to have the best SEO value?
You need to follow the previous system. If your linking structure is in the form of a pyramid, then the text (not the anchor text, but the text that makes the link itself) of each link needs to be formatted in a category and subcategory system. This system has been used by most major websites up to now. What’s more, this will likely remain the best method for SEO internal linking in 2019 and on. To gain a clearer picture of how major websites do this, take a look at Amazon, for example, and their links.
The best way to achieve this is to also have your internal links keep a supplementary URL structure. They only need to contain the link referral location and then the visible part, i.e. the anchor text of the link. It’s the simplest method, and it’s been working for a very long time.
Now, let’s take a look at some common instances where your pages become unreachable, so you’ll know how to fix them, making them accessible and thus appropriately indexed. By learning all the possible mistakes, you’ll be more able to understand just what are internal links.
Internal Search Boxes
Search spiders don’t index links that can be found only through the search bar on the site because they don’t perform these searches the same way a human would.
Search spiders do not index links within submission forms as they themselves can’t submit anything and thus they can’t see what comes after.
Pages with Too Many Internal Links
Search spiders do not index links on pages with hundreds of links because they have a limit of 150 links per page. The limit is sometimes extended to 200 or maybe 250 links per page, but only for very important pages, so it’s best to stick to 150 as the upper limit, just in case.
Search spiders don’t index links embedded inside plug-ins like Flash and Java.
Frames and iFrames
This part is a bit trickier. Technically, spiders can reach links in frames and iframes. However, that’s not always the case. Take a look at this text and video for a more detailed answer.
Image Source: Yoast
How to Do Internal Linking
We’ve explained a lot you need to know about internal links in this comprehensive internal linking guide, but we still need to explain how you can actually do internal linking. Better said, what’s the best strategy you can use?
1. You need to have an ideally structured website
We already said that your website needs to be a spiderweb of sorts so Google’s spiders can have an easy time reaching all the links on your site.
To be more specific with this, it might be easier for you to understand your website’s structure as a sort of pyramid (like we mentioned before) where the top is your homepage (just as the Yoast internal linking guide for proper website structure would suggest). This area needs to have all the major links of your site, which means that it should take the visitor to all the subsections of your website. That’s essentially the second layer beneath the top of the pyramid. Now the remaining sections of the pyramid are all the individual pages and posts on your site. Thus, they need to be linked to their corresponding subsections.
Simple isn’t it? A proper structure is the primary aspect of a good internal linking strategy for 2018 as well as 2019, and most likely the years to come.
2. Determine what your most crucial content is and add a large number of links
This part’s easy, and all you need to do is find what content specifically reflects your website and business in the best way possible while expertly showing the audience what you do, what you value, and how you can help them. This is essentially the part you feel will hook your audience the most.
When you determine what content that is, you need to link to it as much as you can. This is still the best internal linking SEO strategy in 2019 because it points out the huge relevance of specific content on your website. The reasoning here is simple: you want Google’s spiders to reach this content the most to improve the site’s SEO, and they can only do that if a large number of links on your site lead to it.
3. Link everything that’s interrelated
By linking each page or article that has something in common with another page or article, you show Google that they’re related. That will further boost your SEO.
You can use an internal links checker to make sure that everything you want to be linked is linked. The Google Webmasters Tool is the best for this. Naturally, there are other tools you can use, but a Google tool is always a safe bet for any marketer.
Image Source: Search Engine Journal
Additional Things You Should Know About Internal Linking
We can end this guide with a few extra things you should be aware of when it comes to internal links in general.
- There are a few good reasons to learn how internal links in WordPress work. For example, the majority of people use WordPress to build their site in the beginning, and they also often choose to use it later on when they’re more proficient. Here’s a good guide that will explain what you should and shouldn’t do with internal links on your WordPress site.
- We know that most understand that external links are very different, but it would still be good for you to learn more about the crucial differences between internal and external links in SEO. The guide will teach you about the main differences between these two opposing types of links, but you will still have to research the subject if you want to know more about the complicated topic of external links.
- Seeing examples always helps if you want to learn something new or if you’re trying to perfect a skill you’ve already learned. The same can be said about what you know about internal links. That’s why we suggest taking a better look at this detailed internal linking case study.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it—our guide on internal links. We hope you’ve learned everything you needed to know about this subject. The information, tips, and advice we provided here are bound to be of use to anyone trying to create a proper structure for their website for the first time, but also for those on a more advanced level.
All in all, everything here should be more than enough to answer, What are internal links, and how can you make them?