Search engine optimisation (SEO) demands that you make your website content easier to understand for search engines so that your content appears and ranks on relevant search engine results pages.
And your website’s structure is built on internal links.
The way a person gets from your home page to a product or shopping page requires them to click on links.
If you do not put a focus on optimising your internal links, Google and other search engines won’t be able to judge your website’s structure and content hierarchy. Without this clear understanding, your website rankings may drop.
Additionally, readers appreciate a well-organised website. If your website’s links are optimised, consumers will use your website more and bring you website traffic that increases the perceived authority of your content in the eyes of search engines.
So it makes sense to put energy into internal linking.
In this section of the SEO content hub, we will dive into internal linking and how to do it properly.
What is an Internal Link?
A link is made of an anchor text, anchor image or button to which a URL or web address has been embedded or assigned. When you click a link, you are transferred from one web page to another.
For example, you can click here to watch something really inspirational from Rick Astley. That blue underlined text you click on this page to get to that other page is a link.
If clicking or tapping on a text, image or button doesn’t open a new webpage or take you to another digital space, then it is not a link.
When you are redirected to a page on the same website or domain where you clicked the link, that link is then an internal link.
So essentially, an internal link is a link on a page of a website that directs you to another page or section on the same website.
For example, you can click here to access KAMG’s SEO Services page. That page is on the same KAMG domain or website so the link that takes you there from this page (you’re reading on) is an internal link.
All of the buttons or menu items on our website are internal links. They take you from one page to another within the KAMG domain.
When you post an article or blog, you can include a link that points to a related product or service page on your website, like the link above that brings you to our SEO Services page.
So internal links are a natural part of your website but you can also use them to intentionally guide your users through a funnel. You can strategically use internal links to get someone to go to a shopping or subscription page where they may convert.
If the link takes you somewhere else outside of the website where you clicked the link, that link is an external link, not internal.
The 2 Types of Internal Links
If you’re on a web page and click a link and you’re transferred to another page on the same site, that is an outbound internal link of that page you are coming from.
From the perspective of the page that you were transferred to, that link is an inbound internal link.
So one page’s outbound internal link is another page’s inbound internal link.
What do Internal Links Do?
Internal links are useful for the following reasons:
They enable web users to navigate your website.
Practically, internal links are what users will click to go from point A to point B on your website. They are like doors that allow you to go from one place to another.
For example, suppose user Michaela is visiting a cat products website and skimming through the home page and becomes interested in cat training resources.
She then clicks a link that says “watch cat training videos” and is directed to a separate page on the website where she can choose videos to learn from.
If Michaela wants to go back to the home page, there’s a link on the header portion of all of the website’s pages that says Home, and she can simply click it.
They aid in establishing the information hierarchy of your website.
Google knows that the most important pages on your site are the ones that have the most inbound internal links.
Your home page is where all of the links to your other major web pages can be found. So when someone searches on Google using keywords that match your business niche in general, the search engine knows to display your homepage on the SERP.
They assist in spreading link equity or ranking power around your website.
Suppose you have a web page that is ranking highly on SERPs, meaning it has excellent authority SEO-wise. The authority of that page will then also be shared with the other pages on your site that it links to.
Think of it as a doctor you really trust. If your doctor introduces you to their colleague who’s also a doctor and recommends them for a medical procedure that you need, you would normally have some automatic level of trust in your new acquaintance by virtue of your initial relationship with your existing doctor.
So essentially, if you get your home page to rank decently, it pulls up with it the other pages getting inbound links from it.
Links associate a page’s content and authority with other pages it is linked to, spreading link equity and ranking power across your website.
They are an opportunity for you to funnel people to conversion.
You can actively manipulate your links as part of your conversion rate optimisation (CRO).
The way someone on your site gets to a page that’s built for conversion is via links. So if you make your link texts descriptive so that it does a good job of encouraging a user to click the link, you effectively increase your chances of profiting from that user.
Side Note: If you want more CRO tips, here’s the KAMG 200+ item conversion checklist where we explore almost everything you need to know.
But for now, let’s dive into how you can do internal linking so that it’s excellent for SEO.
Internal Linking Best Practices for SEO
Internal links are the best way to establish site architecture and spread link equity.
Search engines like Google require the content on individual pages in order to list them in their massive keyword-based index.
In order to find all of the pages on a website, they must also have access to a crawlable link structure (a structure that allows spiders to browse the pathways of a website).
Hundreds of thousands of websites make the critical error of concealing or burying their primary link navigation in ways that search engines cannot access.
This makes it difficult for Google to get the pages listed in its index.
The illustration below shows that it is simple for Google’s spider or crawler to find a webpage if it is linked to another.
In the example, Google’s crawler can easily reach page A coming from page E simply because page E provides a link to page A. It will also be straightforward for the bot to crawl to page B but we can’t say the same thing for pages D and C.
Regardless of how important pages C and D are to the site, the spider has no way of reaching them or even knowing that they exist. This is because they are orphaned or there are no direct crawlable links that point to them.
As far as Google is concerned, these pages don’t exist.
Excellent content, keyword targeting and marketing don’t matter if the spiders can’t find them in the first place.
The ideal structure for a website would resemble a pyramid (with the big dot on top representing the homepage).
This structure has as few links as possible between both the homepage as well as any given page. This is beneficial as it allows link equity or ranking power to properly flow all throughout the website, increasing the ranking potential of each page.
You can use the same structure for your blogs.
For example, you can have an extensive blog called Cat Training | The Ultimate Guide. You can treat that blog as your big dot on top.
Then below it, you can have smaller more specific topic sub-blogs like Top 7 Cat Training Products, Easiest Cat Breeds to Train and When to Start Training my Cat.
And below each sub-blog, you can have even more specific topic blogs (sub-sub-blogs) around the subject of cat training.
Under the Cat Training Products thread, you can have related blogs like The Best Diet & Supplements for a Training Cat, DIY Cat Training Tools and Cat Training SetUp at Home.
As you structurally link these blogs to each other, the ranking power or link equity is shared on your entire set of blogs about Cat Training. Additionally, you simply give readers a well-structured bank of resources that they will love to stay on your website for.
Proper internal linking does a lot for your SEO and website traffic.
When you ensure that all of your pages are properly linked to each other, Google and other search engines will be able to effectively crawl and index them.
And when they do, you have the opportunity to rank on SERPs and get more traffic for your website.
More traffic means more conversion potential and, of course, better profits.
But that’s not only the thing you have to consider SEO-wise.
A proper URL structure for your website and its pages will supplement your internal linking and SEO efforts. And that’s what you’ll learn as you continue to the next section of our SEO Content Hub about URL structure.