Google is a powerhouse when it comes to search. With over 8.5 billion daily searches, the company has an 86.19% market share of the global search engine market.
That’s a lot of searches! But how does Google know which websites to rank first?
While there are over 200 ranking factors, one of the most important is the number and quality of links pointing to the site.
In particular, Google gives extra weight to links from websites within the same domain. This type of link is known as an “internal link.”
Why are internal links so important?
To answer this question, we must consider two critical stakeholders:
- Users: Internal links help get users to the right content on your site faster.
- Search Engines: Internal links help Google understand the structure of your website. They act as signposts, telling the search engine which pages are most important.
All of this leads to better SEO for your website.
So, let’s dive in and look at the benefits of internal linking!
What is Internal Linking?
When it comes to SEO, links are essential. Google uses them to determine the relationships between websites and their content. In particular, they give extra weight to links from other websites within the same domain. This type of link is known as an “internal link.”
An internal link is a hyperlink that points to another page on the same website. For example, if you click on the “Blogging platform you are using” link shown in the screenshot above, you will go to our “Top 15 Blogging Platforms to Make Money” blog. That’s an internal link.
Internal links are different from “external links,” which are hyperlinks that point to pages on other websites. Of course, external links are also crucial for SEO, but we’ll save that discussion for later on!
Easy user navigation is one of the amazing benefits of internal linking. When readers land on a website, they usually have a specific purpose. Internal linking allows them to navigate the site and find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily.
You want to build your website with a strong foundation or architecture. There should be a logical flow that guides people from one room to the next, and you want enough internal links to keep people from getting lost.
One Of the Benefits of Internal Linking: Readers Traverse Your Website Quickly
That’s where internal linking comes in. Internal linking allows readers to move around the website quickly, and it helps search engines understand the relationship between different pages on the site.
For example, if you’re writing an article about SEO, you might link to another article on your site about keyword research. By including these links, you’re making it easier for readers to find related information and helping search engines understand the context of your content.
In turn, this helps to improve the user experience, which is an important ranking factor for search engines. Here are the specific factors important to Google:
Critical Benefits Of Internal Linking: It Directly Impacts Key Metrics Google Loves
1) Time on page: How long a user spends on your website can affect your SEO ranking. For example, if users quickly leave your site, it could indicate that they didn’t find the answer to satisfy their search.
On the other hand, if they’re spending a lot of time on your site, it could be a sign that they find your content engaging. Either way, keeping an eye on your website’s “time on page” metric is essential to ensure that users find what they’re looking for.
2) Page views: Another factor affecting your SEO ranking is the number of page views. Google considers how often a page is viewed when determining its ranking. In addition, internal links will get users to navigate to more relevant and popular pages within your website.
3) Bounce rate: Google also looks at bounce rate when determining a website’s SEO ranking. Bounce rate is the percentage of users who leave a website after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate could signify that your website’s content is not relevant to what users are looking for.
On the other hand, a low bounce rate could be a sign that users find your content engaging and relevant. Either way, keeping an eye on your website’s bounce rate is essential to ensure that users receive the answer to their query.
Helps Establish Information Hierarchy for Search Engines
Internal linking helps to establish a hierarchy of information on your website (one of the benefits of internal linking). This is important because it tells search engines which page on your site is most important.
For example, if you have a blog with 10 articles, you can use internal linking to signal to Google which article is the most important. You can link to the article from the homepage or your category pages.
The home page carries the most weight and will rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Google Search Central recommends that you keep important pages within several clicks from the home page! The articles that link from the home page will also rank higher than those that are not.
Spreads Link Equity
When it comes to link equity, Google craves it. But what exactly is link equity, and why does Google want it so badly?
Link equity measures how much value, trustworthiness, relevance, and authority a page has. This value is determined by the number and quality of links pointing to that page.
So, when a page has a lot of high-quality links pointing to it, that means it must be pretty good, right? That’s why Google cares so much about link equity – it’s an indicator of the quality of a page.
This process of “passing link equity” from one page to another is called “link juice.” When a page links to another page, it gives some of its link juice to that page. It’s another one of the fantastic benefits of internal linking. Amazing, right?
Just like real-life juice, some juices are more potent than others. The same goes for link juice – some websites have more link equity than others.
That’s why internal linking is so important: it helps spread the link juice around your site, increasing the equity of all your pages. And when you have a lot of pages with high link equity, your whole site looks more valuable and trustworthy to Google.
By strategically placing links on your website, you can control the flow of link juice and give an uplift to the pages that you want to rank higher in the search results.
Spencer Haws, the founder of Niche Pursuits, conducted an internal links case study where he added 108 internal links to orphaned pages and monitored his rankings over the course of 1 month.
He found that 76% of the pages within the test increased in ranking. Almost 20% of the pages ascended to #1 in Google!
So, if you want to make Google happy (and who doesn’t?), ensure you’re spreading your link juice around effectively!
Each Type of Internal Link Passes Value Differently
Not all internal links are created equal. Each type of internal link passes value differently. Here’s a quick overview of the different types of internal links and how they distribute link juice:
1) Links within the main body content: These are sometimes called “contextual” links because they exist within the context of the page’s content. These links are generally the most valuable because they’re surrounded by topically relevant content, making users more likely to click on them.
2) Links in the navigation menu: These links are in a website’s navigation menu, which is at the top or side of the page. These links are less valuable than contextual links because they’re not surrounded by relevant content. However, they’re still more valuable than links in the footer or sidebar.
3) Links in the footer or sidebar: These links are typically found in a website’s footer or sidebar and are the least valuable type of internal link. This is because they’re not surrounded by relevant content and are often not clicked on by users.
However, just because these links are less valuable doesn’t mean you should avoid them altogether. If you have a lot of pages on your website, footer and sidebar links can help spread link juice to all of them, which can be beneficial for SEO.
4) Links in the comments section: These links are in the comments section of blog posts and articles. They’re generally not as valuable as other internal links because they’re not surrounded by relevant content. However, they can still be beneficial for SEO if used strategically.
5) Links in blog posts or articles: These links are in the body of blog posts or articles. Depending on their placement within the content, they can be either contextual or non-contextual. These links are generally more valuable than links in the comments section because they’re surrounded by relevant content.
When it comes to internal linking, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, the best way to use internal links depends on your website’s structure and the types of pages you want to rank higher in the search results.
If you’re unsure how to get started, we recommend using a tool like Link Whisper to examine your website’s link profile, identify any orphan pages, and offer actionable suggestions where you can improve.
Increases Google’s Ability to Crawl and Index Your Site Architecture
Google’s primary ranking factor is the ability to crawl your website. So when you add internal links to your site, you are essentially helping Google do its job.
Crawling is how Google discovers new and updated pages to add to its index. When Google sends out its robots, or “spiders,” to crawl the web, they’re looking for new content to add to the search engine’s massive index of web pages. But that’s not all they’re doing.
They’re also looking at factors like:
- The overall structure of your website
- The quality of your content
- How easy it is for users to navigate your site
When a search engine crawler visits your site, it will follow the internal link structure on your pages to other pages on your site. The more links there are to be followed, the more likely the crawler will find all of your content.
Here’s why: when you include an internal link on your website, you’re giving Google a road map of your site. This helps the search engine index your pages more effectively and makes it more likely that your website will appear in relevant search results.
Furthermore, by including keyword-rich anchor text in your internal links, you can give Google a good idea of what each page on your site is about.
Helps To Build Page Authority
Google loves Authority. Google’s search algorithm is designed to surface the most useful, relevant results for a user’s query. One of the key factors in determining a result’s usefulness is page authority.
Authority signals to Google that a page is trustworthy and should be ranked higher in search results. Since Google wants to deliver the best possible results to its users, it prefers authoritative sources on a given topic.
This helps ensure that users see accurate, reliable information in response to their queries. In addition, when you have authority, people are more likely to link to your website, and Google rewards you for those links by increasing your ranking in search results.
Specifically, page authority is the value a search engine assigns to your web page.
For example, let’s say you have a blog post about how to keep your dog healthy. You could link to a page on your website that has tips on choosing the best food.
By linking to this page, you’re not only helping your readers find more information on a topic they’re interested in, but you’re also giving Google a signal that your website is a valuable source of information on exercise.
So, the next time someone searches for “how to choose the best food for my dog” there’s a good chance your website will come up higher in the results thanks to the internal links you’ve created.
Readers Stay On Your Website Longer
Internal linking can also keep readers on your website for more extended periods. This is because they can find additional resources that are relevant to them by clicking on the links.
The longer a reader stays on your website, the more likely they will convert into a customer or client. This means that internal linking can also lead to more sales and inquiries.
Not to mention, Google tracks how long users spend on your website and will reward you if they spend more time there. The longer someone spends on a page, the more likely they find the content relevant and valuable.
If the data shows that users spend a lot of time on the page, Google will rank the page higher in search results. On the other hand, if the data shows that users are quickly leaving the page, Google will lower the page’s ranking.
You Control The Linking and Anchor Text (So You Can Rank For Specific Keywords)
When you include internal links on your website, you have more control over the linking structure than if you let other websites link to yours. This is because you can determine where the links go and the anchor text.
Google recommends using descriptive anchor text to help users and search engines understand your content.
The anchor text is the words that are linked. For example, if you have a blog post about the benefits of exercise, you could link to a page on your website that gives tips on getting started with an exercise routine. In this case, the anchor text would be “how to start exercising.”
When it comes to SEO, anchor text is essential for several reasons. First, it helps search engines understand the subject of your page. You’re essentially vouching for the destination page when you include relevant anchor text in your internal links.
Including keywords in your anchor text can signal to Google what your page is about, which can help it rank higher in search results.
In addition, anchor text can also help improve your website’s click-through rate. If a user sees relevant and descriptive anchor text, they are likelier to click on it than if they see a generic or undescriptive text.
One Of The Underrated Benefits Of Internal Linking: It Adds More Proof To Your Claims
As any good writer knows, the proof is essential to making a convincing argument. When you’re writing a blog post, you can provide evidence in several ways, including linking to external sources.
But did you know that you can also add proof by linking to other posts on your site? After all, if you’re confident enough in your argument to link to it, that’s a pretty strong indication that you believe in what you’re saying.
For example, let’s say you’re writing a post about the benefits of exercise. You could link to a previous article where you discussed the science behind why practice is good for you.
Internal linking is a great way to add more depth to your posts and give your readers the information they need to make informed decisions.
Internal linking is also a great way to boost your site’s SEO, so it’s a win-win!
Send Traffic To Old Posts
We all know that the internet is a vast and ever-changing landscape. New content is created daily, and it can be challenging to ensure your voice is heard above the noise. However, internal linking is one way to help ensure your content gets seen.
You can give readers a reason to click through to your older content by including links to older blog posts in your new content. By linking to older blog posts, you can give your readers a chance to check out your archive and discover articles they may have missed.
And since search engines crawl your site when new links are added, this can also lead to increased traffic for your older blog posts. So, next time you create new content, don’t forget to include some links to your older material.
Internal linking is one of the factors that can influence page rank – the algorithm Google uses to determine the importance of a given webpage (a number between 0 and 10).
So, by linking to other pages on your website, you can help to increase their page rank and improve your chances of appearing in search results.
The factors that contribute to page rank include the number of inbound links and the quality of those links. Page rank is important because it is one of the significant signals that Google uses to determine which results to show for a given query.
However, keeping your internal links relevant is essential, as too many irrelevant links can harm your page rank.
How Do You Effectively Use Internal Links To Receive The Benefits Of Internal Linking?
Here are some best practices for internal linking:
- Identify orphaned pages (check out our guide on how to find orphan pages)
- Use keyword-rich anchor text to help with your SEO
- Link to pages that are relevant to the user’s query
- Ensure that your links are working and don’t lead to 404 errors
- Use internal linking as a way to guide users through your website
- Keep the number of links to a reasonable number
- Use dofollow links rather than nofollow links
- Use links that are natural for the reader and flow with the content
Go here to learn about more best practices for internal linking in detail.
Reaping the Benefits of Internal Linking: But How Much Internal Linking is Safe?
While there’s no magic number of internal links you should include on each page of your website, there is such a thing as too many.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your ratio of internal links to external links around 1:1. That means for every external link you include on a page, you should also include one internal link.
Of course, this is just a general guideline – some pages on your website will have more external links than others, and that’s perfectly fine. Just mix things up and avoid going overboard with the internal linking. After all, balance is vital in all things…even SEO.
Internal and External Links, Plus Backlinks: What’s the Difference?
Internal links are links that point to other pages on your website. External links are links that point to pages on other websites. And backlinks are incoming links to your website from other websites.
Without links, the internet would be a lonely place. Links help connect us to the vast wealth of information out there, and they also play an essential role in SEO.
Internal links, in particular, can be a powerful tool for website owners. By linking to other pages on your site, you can help increase traffic and page rank and guide users through your website.
When used correctly, internal linking is a powerful way to improve your website’s search engine optimization.