Google’s robots traverse the world wide web, reading and indexing webpage to serve to searchers at a later date. In order to move from one webpage to another, or indeed one website to another, they rely on hyperlinks. Links are an important part of the internet’s infrastructure and can have an effect on how a website’s content is crawled, indexed and how it subsequently ranks in the search engine results pages.
What Is An Internal Link?
Simply put, internal links are hyperlinks on a page that directs the user to another page on the same website. This is unlike external links (or backlinks) which are links from another website to your own website. The destination of an internal link will be on the same domain that the link originates on. Google uses a crawler called Google Bot to crawl websites by following these internal links in order to index various pages and also understand the relationship between the pages of your website and accessibility. Google can then see which pages on the website have similar content or subject matter.
Internal links can technically come in any form of hyperlink. For example, an option on the main menu of a website could be considered an internal link, as could a ‘featured articles’ section on a blog post. For many though, an internal link will refer to a hyperlink included within a block of text. For the SEO world, any internal links should be taken into account.
The Value Of An Internal Link
An internal link’s value all depends how well your links work and your strategy. The basic values of internal linking include:
As with everything SEO, the user comes first. Have you ever been on a page and struggled to find a menu option, or further information? It’s frustrating isn’t it? Internal links should be placed on a webpage to improve the user experience and how a user flows through your website.
Clear Information Architecture (incl. Pillar Content)
A great internal linking structure should only serve to reinforce the sitemap.
Internal anchor text
Descriptive anchor text can provide robots with a signal as to the contents of the destination page. Careful though, it’s easy to over optimise anchor text!
Indexing of content
A clear internal linking structure should allow a crawler to navigate your site with ease, resulting in larger amounts of individual pages being indexed on each visit.
How To Internal Link
Your internal linking structure should be closely aligned to your buying funnel and user flow to related content. Having a clear understanding of how you want users to navigate towards a conversion will help dictate how internal links are situated on individual pages.
There is a school of thought that internal links should be utilised to funnel PageRank towards the high value pages on your site. However, this concept of ‘PageRank Sculpting’ is somewhat archaic as it is focussed on search engines, rather than the user. Regardless, if you follow your intended buying funnel you will fulfil this strategy as well, i.e your high value pages should all have links pointing to them from more informational pages such as articles.
As previously mentioned, tactical use of anchor text can provide an indication to search engines as to the contents of the destination page. For example, and part of the user flow, if you’ve found this article interesting you can find more about our SEO services here. Over optimisation of external anchor text was the first to be identified by Google, although they now look at over optimised internal anchor text as a potentially spammy tactic so use sparingly.
Positioning of links is also important in terms of their value to the user. Boilerplate links are generally considered of lower value than clear links either above the fold or in the body of content.
Notice a theme here? Internal links are there to improve your user’s experience on your site and to provide a clear information architecture. If you follow a pillar content model, it’s important that each piece of subsidiary content has clear call to actions to the central content and then on towards a conversion page.