Running a blog can be a tiresome, and sometimes unrewarding pastime. Finding ways to have it exposed to a wider audience can be difficult, and the answers don’t always seem clear.
We’re here to provide you with an effective way to improve your content marketing strategy; the simple art of internal linking.
You may already know about the importance of external linking on your site.
- Improve the user experience of your site,
- Encourage people to link back to you,
- Indicate the quality of your own site to search engines,
and much more…
You rarely hear about the benefits of internally linking to other pages within your own website, but don’t be fooled, internal linking can be an extremely useful SEO tool.
Companies aren’t blind to this fact. A study in 2017 carried out by Econsultancy and Adobe found that a top priority for digital marketing strategies as a whole involved content marketing.
Content marketing is a form of marketing based on creating high-quality, useful content, that organically attracts a targeted following with a view to converting them into customers.
So, learning how to effectively develop your internal linking strategy is, well, really important if you want to succeed online.
What you do hear about internal linking can be complex, vague and pretty intimidating. But don’t worry yourself, we’re here to show you that the world of internal linking can be mastered with some simple practices. It doesn’t have to be a murky world of intrigue, let us show you how – with some easy-to-follow steps – you can optimize a significant part of your content marketing strategy.
During the course of this blog you will learn:
- What internal linking is
- The key benefits of internal linking
- The core principles in effective internal linking
- How to make use of ‘hub pages’
- Some DON’TS
What is Internal Linking?
Let’s start with the basics.
“Internal linking is simply the practice of creating links that connect one page to another on the same website.”
Basically, if we were to include a link on our page to a comprehensive course on marketing on Facebook, or perhaps to a blog on boosting sales with remarketing, or maybe even a blueprint on creating a successful YouTube channel, we’ve then created some internal links.
Easy as that.
So, we’ll move straight on to the next question you may ask…
What are the Benefits of Internal Linking?
What’s the point in connecting pages throughout my website with links? Where’s the benefit? Well…
There are a few very key reasons why any site should want a strong internal linking strategy:
- Every page that has an IN link to it earns an SEO boost, improving the page’s ranking.
- Of course, it follows that if you have links from your pages to others you own, those pages being linked to will receive a nice little SEO boost, or ‘link juice’.
- Home pages obviously have a huge amount of links leading to them, which can lead to the following difficulty…
- How many times have you found yourself searching for a key topic or question in the Google search bar, clicking the first link, only to find it is the home page of a site that requires you to dig for the specific topic you want information about?
- This is because the home page has too much link juice in comparison to the rest of the site’s pages.
- By including links from lower ranking pages to other lower ranking pages, you increase the amount of link juice flowing through your pages, boosting all their SEO rankings.
Remember, high-ranking pages have more link juice to spread around. For example, a link from a BBC article to a low-ranking blog post boosts it massively.
Defining Hierarchy in your Site
- If a page has a number of links to it, search engines realise that the page is an authority, or is at least a trusted page.
- Search engines can also identify certain keywords and groupings, that appear in anchor text, to assert the page as an authority on a certain subject.
- This will ascertain where and when your pages will appear depending on what people search for. The most relevant pages will have their ranking improved.
- So, a page that has a lot of links to it, using the word, ‘re-marketing’, as the anchor text for the links, will rank highly in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) for ‘re-marketing’.
It Just Makes Your Website Better
- Including internal links makes your website a much more user-friendly place, allowing relevant content to always be within touching distance.
- It can prolong user sessions. How often have you found yourself lost down the Wikipedia wormhole from clicking link after inviting link? Google likes it when people spend time on your site, it’s indicative of quality. The longer you get users on your site, the more the algorithms trust it as a good source of information, the further up that ranking ladder you climb.
- It will keep your pages tight-knit and interconnected. Older content can be accessed from a new post, and you can lead your audience on a journey of discovery through your expertise.
Ultimately, internal linking can help boost your page rankings and is one of many ways to grow your business online.
Done correctly, it can be a real asset to the balance and publicity of your posts and pages.
And the best thing? The music to a thrifty marketer’s ears? It doesn’t cost a penny.
Effective Internal Linking
You’ve had your two veg, now it’s time for the meat.
You know what internal linking is, and why it’s useful, but there are several different schools of thought on how to utilise them to achieve the best results.
We will provide you with some simple yet effective steps that you can take to improve the way you link internally, before touching on a more complex strategy involving hub pages.
So here we go, our five easy-to-apply tips for making your internal linking strategy a professional, effective asset to you and your business.
Don’t link for the sake of linking:
as good as it is to have a nice network of internal links between your webpages, you can have too many. Google explicitly states that if you add too many links to or on any given page, you will be penalised.
Having a link-heavy page also takes away from the user’s enjoyment of it. You can end up making a post look spammy or untidy, so follow the Google guidelines and try to keep the number of links you use per page to fewer than 100.
It is surprisingly easy to hit this number, given the number of links in menus, in footers, and other ads, so bear this in mind when including links in your material.
There’s no specific limit, and different pages will necessitate a different amount of links of course, but the advice we would give would be to keep internal links as relevant as possible, and don’t include many links to the same page.
Be relevant with your links:
For the love of God, don’t mislead a pair of eyes from a blog post about increasing Instagram followers to a page, I don’t know, selling insurance. You will make the user experience far worse and encourage people to not only avoid clicking more links, but to potentially leave the site altogether.
You need to be intentional, if you are writing a post about making money from Facebook ads, it would be entirely reasonable to include a link to a blog about creating high-quality Facebook ad copy.
Be clear with where you’re taking people. Your anchor text must be clear and explicit when it comes to where you’re directing the user. Of course, it’s the user’s choice whether to click the link or not, you can take someone off topic if you like, but only if they are sure of the content they will be viewing.
Use anchor text:
(Don’t worry, we’re explaining what anchor text is now. It’s actually pretty simple.)
Anchor text is essentially what your link looks like. It’s visible, clickable text. What’s useful about using anchor text rather than an image link is that it looks slick in your content: running smoothly without interrupting the flow of a sentence.
It gives the reader the choice to read on, or uncover a new goldmine of info on say, boosting sales with remarketing.
Ensure the links are natural for the reader. Of course, the above is just an example, but don’t take your writing wildly off-piste in order to crowbar in a link to another post. Your reader will sense it and it will interrupt the flow of your content. By including a link, you’re implying that they may want to stop what they’re reading immediately, so that you can tell them something that they didn’t even know they wanted to read, but will benefit from.
Have heaps of content:
This is a logical step towards increasing the number of internal links you can include in your posts. Obviously, if you have more pages of excellent content, you will have more opportunities to make relevant links to your other posts.
With lots of links interconnecting a wide range of content across your website, you are laying the basis of an effective content marketing strategy. There are some sources that will tell you an internal linking strategy requires complex levels and groups of pages – we will touch on this later, but the real key is to have a web of relevant, free flowing links leading your user to helpful, interesting information.
That’s not to say you should start creating page after slapdash page that you can include a huge amount of links on, this won’t just boost your pages to the top of the SERPs. Your content must still be quality, compelling and relevant. Remember, Google takes into account how long people stay engaged with your website.
Phrase your links as actions or titles:
It can encourage a reader to click a link and find out more if the title is clearly offering how to do something. Links, because of the fact that they’re blue and underlined, end up standing out from the rest of the text, and can often be read alone.
Take advantage of this fact. If a reader is switching off from an article and starting to scan through your page, having a phrase such as become a master of Facebook marketing can really draw the eye and rekindle their interest.
Follow and Nofollow Links
As of yet, we’ve been discussing follow links.
Follow links are the ones where, for example, your blog page is linked to by a Times Online page. Your page receives link juice, and a page with a lot of link juice is looked upon more preferably by Google, boosting it up the search engine rankings.
Pages with a huge amount of traffic or a high SEO can distribute more link juice than ones with low traffic, but internally linking your pages will help distribute it more evenly.
A nofollow link doesn’t provide any of that lovely link juice.
What’s the point in it then?
Nofollow links sprang up when people started chucking their links everywhere in an attempt to boost the amount of link juice to their own sites.
Wikipedia pages, blog comments and forums became inundated with links that were irrelevant and were just self-promoting sites.
In order to stop this, nofollow links were introduced. Indicated by rel=”nofollow” in their HTML tags, they are a signal to search engines to not assign any value to a link.
This prevents spammers from cheating the system when it comes to awarding link juice.
Should I use Nofollow Links?
Nofollow links, despite not providing any link juice, can still help drive traffic to your pages.
A well placed nofollow link on a popular Wikipedia page, a BBC page, or a widely followed blog can direct huge amounts of traffic straight to you.
However, when it comes to internal linking between pages on your own site, there is no real need to use them.
They are only really useful when they appear on external sites that already attract a large amount of readers.
When linking between pages on your own site you want the link juice flowing freely between them, so don’t block it off with nofollow links and spoil the party.
As we mentioned before, there are a few more complex methods you can use to structure your internal linking strategy.
The use of hub pages becomes relevant when your site has a large number of pages that relate to different subjects, and when you want certain pages to rank higher than others on your site. These pages need to encompass the keywords you want to rank highly in, as they will have a lot of in links to them.
Imagine you have a website on which you write about digital marketing. Your hub pages might be ‘Marketing’, ‘Web Design’ and ‘SEO’.
The way to identify these hub pages is to look at what broad topics or key services you offer. So, in this case, you would want to rank highly when users searched for marketing, web design and SEO. Seems obvious enough.
You can then begin to organise your spoke pages (also hub pages) into ‘topic clusters’.
Spoke pages are the pages on your site that relate to the topic of your hub pages. A blog post about Facebook carousel ads for example, would come under the hub page ‘Marketing’.
Once you have organised your pages into ‘topic clusters’, you can use key-worded anchor text to link these pages back to your hub page.
As the keyword you want to rank highly in is ‘marketing’, use ‘marketing’ as your anchor text to link to the hub page, ‘Marketing’.
This will result in a serious boost of link juice for your ‘Marketing’ page, greatly improving the hub page’s SERP ranking specifically for the keyword ‘marketing’. Phew.
Now, this system may work for you if you want specific pages to be ranked higher on your site. If you’re keen on establishing a clear structure and hierarchy on your site, this is for you.
When someone searches for ‘SEO’, the number of internal links to your hub page will mean that it has a good chance of being highly ranked.
It’s all about how you want to prioritise your pages.
Using this hub page method, surprise, surprise your hub pages will receive a lot of link juice.
Your content pages, however, will likely remain low-ranking, as they predominantly link to the hub page. Not exactly cause for celebration, but it all depends on what you want your site to offer.
For a site that posts a lot of blog material (and we mean a lot), and perhaps sells products relating to the topic they post about, we would recommend using the free-linking, simple steps we outlined before.
This will ensure that all of your pages are more likely to rank well when the topic they cover is searched for.
The fact is, each site has different goals and you need to adjust your strategy accordingly, but if you follow the steps we outlined in the ‘Effective Internal Linking’, section you will begin to see the results.
So, we’ve covered how you might want to improve your content marketing strategy with internally linking your pages.
Now we’re going to cover a few things you would want to avoid like the plague. Trust us, these may seem simple, but they’re common mistakes that we don’t want you to fall foul of.
- Use anchor text to link to home pages or contact us You want your links to be deeply embedded in your site, you will already have enough links on your navigation menu to reach these pages, and internally linking to them via anchor text is unnecessary.
Google Penguin: Google Penguin is a scary update for those black-hat SEOs we discussed with regards to nofollow links. Remember?
Basically, we mean the people who looked to boost their SEO rankings by creating as many links as possible to their webpages.
Google Penguin was an update released that recognized when pages had an unnatural number of links to them, or over-optimized anchor text.
If they were deemed to have too many, they would be penalised.
- Overuse anchor text. We covered this earlier but it’s really important to emphasise it. Google Penguin will catch you out if you have over-optimized your anchor text by creating too many links to certain pages. Also, it just makes your page look messy, spammy and unprofessional, and can spoil the user experience.
Mix up the use of anchor text you use to link to your pages and avoid overusing popular keywords as anchor text.
- Neglect older posts. Your internal linking strategy needs to be ongoing. If you’re constantly churning out great content (and you should be), then the opportunity for new links to be added to old posts will crop up just as frequently.
You’re writing your current blog about monetizing email lists. Suddenly you find yourself creating material that would be really useful to a reader of your older blog about Google Shopping.
Go back to that blog and put in a link to your new post! Always be on the lookout for potential relevance between your posts and constantly update them to spread the link juice love between your pages.
To sum up…
There are so many voices out there on the vast, old internet that can give you all sorts of complex advice and long-winded essays on how to achieve an effective internal linking strategy.
At Adversent however, we prefer everyone’s favourite way of being successful: the easy way. Our advice is simple. Keep it simple. You can achieve really impressive results by taking easy, immediately actionable steps, and create a site that has a happy, free-moving web of link juice organically boosting your pages.
So, link away (but not too much), write away (but make it good) to grow a healthy, interconnected community of pages, and watch your site bloom in the competitive world of SEO (without spending a penny).
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