Internal linking helps Google find and index all web pages, understand the structure and rank the website better.
Internal links are hyperlinks that point from one web page to another of the same website. By using them properly, you tell Google what your web pages are about and which of them are more or less important, hence, establish a website hierarchy.
Therefore, a good internal linking strategy can boost SEO performance!
What is the difference between Internal and External links?
Whereas internal links connect web pages of the same website, external links connect web pages with pages of other websites.
Although you want your website visitors to stay on your website as long as possible and don’t want to direct them away from your site, external links that direct users to reputable and trustworthy websites, improve your SEO. Why?
Because this is the way to tell Google what your content is about, as well as increase your authority.
Aside from this type of external links, there are backlinks that refer to links that your website gets from other websites.
In short, both internal and external links are important for SEO performance because their quality and quantity influence how Google sees your website and how users experience it.
In this article, Aleph Website discusses how internal linking helps SEO and what the main benefits of these links are.
1. Internal links Help Google Understand Website Structure and Content
The right internal linking strategy helps Google find and index pages on your website. Google’s spiders follow internal links to crawl through the website.
Put differently, when Google crawls your website, it follows links from known web pages to discover and index new pages.
Aside from that, internal links allow Google to understand the contextual relationship between the web pages and their content, which helps Google serve up highly-relevant results to users.
In order to help website visitors understand how the website content is connected, you need to make sure Google understands the connection of all web pages and the website structure. Here, internal links play a major role.
Furthermore, internal links help you demonstrate your expertise and achieve topical authority if you have authoritative and valuable content connected.
The Difference Between Contextual and Navigational Internal Links
Two main types of internal links are navigational and contextual.
Navigational internal links are responsible for establishing the website’s navigation structure. They help visitors navigate and find what they’re looking for on the website, so they make buyers’ journeys straightforward.
On the other hand, contextual links are those within the content and they link topically related pages. They can help web pages rank higher for specific keywords.
Contextual links use anchor text (clickable text in the copy that links to another page). Anchor text tells users what to expect when they click the link and Google what the content is about. Google uses this information to rank pages for keywords used in the anchor text. Therefore, make sure anchor text is directly related to the topic of the page it links to.
How to Set Up the Website Structure?
When it comes to website structure, you should see your website as a pyramid where the Homepage is at the top of the website hierarchy. Below the homepage, there are categories, subcategories, and individual pages.
For example, if you have an eCommerce website, you can use categories Men and Women, which will be linked to subcategories (jackets, coats, etc), and then individual pages (product pages).
Ensure that the most important category pages are represented on the website menu, so visitors can easily access them.
When it comes to the website structure, keep in mind that higher-positioned pages on the website hierarchy are more crawled by Google. Thus, there should be a minimum amount of internal links between the top page (homepage) and other pages.
This structure allows link juice (link equity) to flow throughout the site and spread ranking power.
Link juice describes how the power of page ranks passes from one to another link.
2. Internal Links Pass Authority Which Help Improve Rankings
How does Google pass authority between web pages?
Google uses an algorithm called PageRank (PR) to rank web pages in search engine results. PageRank assesses the authority (importance and quality) of individual web pages, so each page has its score (from 0 to 10).
Links influence these scores, so the more authoritative links that lead to a webpage, the rank score is higher.
Let’s take a look at an example:
Page X gets an authoritative backlink which improves its Page Rank score. Page X and page Y are the pages of the same website (same domain) and they’re connected with a contextual link. This way, the authority that page X gets from the backlink can be passed to page Y.
By passing the authority from page X to page Y, the page rank score of page Y is improved as well as its ranking position on Google search engine results.
3. Internal Links Improve UX (User Experience)
The importance of website User experience has been increasing. The most compelling evidence is Google’s announcement in 2021 – Website UX is a Google Ranking factor, which means Google can evaluate in order to position the website on search engine results.
Internal linking is a powerful way to improve the overall user experience by helping visitors navigate easily through the site and explore the content.
Users are most likely to click on the link that is relevant to what they’re interested in, especially when they’re searching for more information. For example, when creating a blog post you can add anchor links that lead to pages of your other related blog posts that have a similar topic.
Consequently, website visitors spend more time on the website which indicates that the website provides value to users, so Google rewards your website with a better rank position.
CONCLUSION: How Does Internal Linking Help SEO?
To answer the question of how internal links help SEO, we have to consider all the above-mentioned.
First of all, internal linking helps Google understand the website structure and content better and make your content meaningful. This allows Google to serve relevant results to users that match their needs and what they’re searching for.
Additionally, internal links spread ranking power and pass authority between web pages, hence, improve the ranking position of web pages.
From users’ perspective, internal links help them navigate through the site and find what they’re looking for easily. Plus, visitors can explore other content and explore more content they’re interested in.
This way, you increase website user engagement and spent time which indicates to Google that your website provides a good user experience.
Contributions & References
- 8 Great Tips on How to Improve Website User Experience
- What is topical authority SEO?
- Effective User Experience Measuring: How Does Google Evaluate UX?
- How to Create a Content Strategy that targets search intent
- How to get backlinks for any small business website?