Internal links: What are they? Why are they important to SEO?
Those are questions that our team of professional SEO technicians hears every day. So, let’s answer them!
In this post we’ll talk about just what exactly internal links are, why they’re important, and what good internal linking strategies look like. Let’s get into it!
What are Internal Links?
Internal links are links that go from one page on your website to another page on the same website. They funnel your readers towards the pages and posts on your website that you value most. Simple enough, yes? Well, that’s just the tip of the proverbial internal linking iceberg.
Why are Internal Links Important for Search Engine Performance?
While it’s true that backlinks and other forms of external links seem to take center stage whenever SEOs talk about linking strategies, internal links are equally as important. In fact, without internal links, Google (and other search engines) would have trouble discovering new content posted to your website.
For example, let’s say you just published a new case results page to your law firm’s website but forgot to publish an internal link to it from somewhere else on your site. When Google crawls your website again it won’t be able to find your new page; almost like it was never there to begin with. Here is what Google says about internal links:
“Google must constantly search for new pages and add them to its list of known pages. Some pages are known because Google has already crawled them before. Other pages are discovered when Google follows a link from a known page to a new page.”
This means that in order for Google to know to index your new page, it has to be able to find it first. If Google doesn’t know your page exists, it can’t very well list it in search results for related search queries. Those types of pages are called “orphan pages.”
In addition to aiding with indexing your new content, internal links also contribute to the flow of PageRank also thought of as link authority) throughout your domain. This is important. The more internal links a page has (within reason), the higher the PageRank assigned to it by Google. But be careful! You can easily overstuff a page with internal links that don’t aid users in their quest to find your most informative and query-centric content. Generally speaking, quality is just as important as quantity here. And, this leads us to our next point:
How to Create A Winning Internal Link Strategy
Before we get too deep into developing internal linking strategies that work, keep this in mind: Relevance is key. The more relevant and logical your linking strategy, the more likely Google will rank your pages for search.
In addition to aiding with indexing your new content, internal links also contribute to the flow of PageRank (also thought of as link authority) throughout your domain. This is important. The more internal links a page has (within reason), the higher the PageRank assigned to it by Google. But be careful! You can easily overstuff a page with internal links that don’t aid users in their quest to find your most informative and query-centric content. Generally speaking, quality is just as important as quantity here.
OK, now that we got that out of the way, let’s get into developing your internal link strategy and structure.
Establish a Content Hierarchy
Before you can start linking pages together, it is wise to first establish a content hierarchy for your website. You can think of hierarchies like a pyramid where the most important pages go at the top, and the least important ones at the bottom. Usually, the top of the pyramid is your homepage. That is followed by your contact page, about us, and other main navigation pages. Then, under those, you should place your blog posts, individual service pages, case results, and other less-important content. Once you’ve established a hierarchy, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Begin “Siloing” Your Pages and Posts
After you’ve finished establishing a hierarchy for your website’s content, it’s time to link it all together. Be wary when doing this, though. Many website owners make the mistake of linking all pages from one level of their hierarchy to the next level up the pyramid. This is generally considered a poor strategy. Remember, when creating internal links (or any links for that matter) relevance is key!
For example, it won’t do you much good to link a new page about your case results to your about us page. But, if that’s considered poor strategy, then what does good strategy look like? Well, one way to organize your internal linking structure is with a technique called “siloing.”
Siloing is the art of grouping relevant pages together using internal links. But, what does that look like?
Let’s assume you have a plumbing page on your website that covers the genera legal services that your company offers. Let’s also assume that you have several more legal service pages that go over specific types of law in greater detail. Using siloing, an ideal link structure would look something like this:
As you can see from the above graphic, “Legal Services” is the top of the content pyramid and links out to three sub-categories. Each of the sub-categories contains hypothetical types of law that fall within the same overarching sub-category. Each of the specific types of law link back to the category page, and then the category page links back to the page at the “Legal Services” page at the top of the pyramid. That’s the basic idea behind the “siloing” technique.
Internal links are important for SEO and the overall user experience of your website. They help you point users towards the content you want them to see, and they help Google and other search engines discover new pieces of content that you publish on your site. Internal links also help distribute your PageRank authority correctly across your website. They really are that important.
Now, here at Goldstein Brossard, we understand that all this technical jargon about internal links may be more than you bargained for. But, don’t fret! If you don’t have the time, desire, or ability to handle optimizing your website’s internal linking strategy and structure, then just give us a call. Our team of SEO professionals is always standing by to help you with all your internal linking woes! Contact us today and happy linking!