Turning Links Into Lemonade: Your Guide to Juicy Internal Linking

September 25th, 2017 by Ann Wanserski

You’ve likely heard of internal links. In terms of SEO jargon (which there’s a lot to sift through), they’re pretty straightforward. Internal links are just the hyperlinks on your site that point to other pages within the same domain. For example, your homepage content probably has internal links pointing readers to your primary service or product pages. While a blog post might incorporate internal links to other posts that elaborate on a similar topic—or better yet, a service page that helps users solve the problem focused on in the blog post.

The navigation menu for your website is also a structure for internal linking to ensure that all of your pages are connected and easily crawlable by search engines. It’s important that all new pages you create are linked back to your homepage using this navigation. For the purpose of this post, however, we’re going to assume your navigation is set up and focus on the internal links you incorporate into the actual content of your pages and posts.

Choose Internal Links for Users & Crawlers

Internal links are easy to understand, but don’t underestimate their power—both in terms of SEO ranking and an improved user experience.

A person's hand squeezing a lemon

When you properly use internal links, you’re spreading ranking power (also known as “link juice”) and authority from your site to that specific page, which improves the chances that it will also rank in search results. Internal links act as road signs, telling search engines which pages to crawl next on your site. On top of that, when you use highly relevant content links that match users’ search queries you’re confirming your authority.

Internal links also plot the course for users (humans) to navigate your website and find the most relevant content to meet their needs. This keeps them on your site longer and improves the user experience. Just imagine that a prospective customer finds your blog post about steps to take when you get a flat tire, then within the post, they find a strategically-placed link leading them to your tire company’s product page about how to find replacement tires. With the right internal linking, you’ve given that person the information they needed and even offered a solution.

So what does it mean to properly use internal links? There’s not always a hard and fast rule for when to link, how much to link, where to link, and the like. But this guide can offer a primer for getting started.

Choose Appropriate Anchor Text

The anchor text for your internal link is simply the clickable words you select to turn into your hyperlink. You’ll want to think about your selection both in terms of the context of the sentence and how the anchor text reads on its own for skimmers. There’s no character count limitation for anchor text, but you should aim to keep it as concise as possible without sacrificing clarity. Your reader should know where they are headed before they click the link.

Landing them on a confusing or off-topic page that does not align with your anchor text disrupts the user experience. While keywords or topics for the content are a great first choice for relevant anchor text, Moz recommends using a variety of words throughout the post that most naturally fit for your anchor text. That’s because Google’s algorithm will take note of pages with too many keywords in anchor text and flag them as spam.

Instead, opt for descriptive, partial-match anchor text that contains part of the target topic within the text. For example, build a comprehensive SEO strategy with Search Influence. This link goes to our SEO services page, which you could probably guess based on the anchor text.

When in doubt, double-check that your anchor text meets the following criteria:

  1. The anchor text fits naturally within the rest of the content on the page
  2. There is zero mystery about where the user will land when they click the link
  3. Anchor text selection is diverse across all the content on the page

 Opt for Relevancy Over Quantity

We can’t overemphasize this enough: choose natural, relevant pages to link to within your content. Don’t force a link. Google and your users will catch on quick, end of story.

You should also avoid linking to the homepage or contact page. Those pages already have plenty of link juice. If your reader is already on an internal page within your site, why would they want to backtrack to your homepage? Instead, do as Kissmetrics recommends and reach for a 1:1 ratio of deep internal links and main navigation links. If your page is content heavy, then you should link out to other content-rich pages that elaborate on your topic and keep your reader engaged.

Animation of hand counting to five

While there is no magic number for how many links you need on a page, you can aim for about 2-4 contextual, natural links that make sense and address topics that would interest your reader. Just like with writing calls-to-action, you should assess each linking opportunity from the perspective of your prospective buyer to see if the target page is a good fit.

Audit Existing Content for Linking Best Practices

Keeping your content fresh with new internal links is an important step because it notifies Google to crawl the page again, increasing your ranking opportunities. You can also make sure that your inventory of content remains up-to-date and relevant for readers. We recommend building a schedule for updating content on a regular basis, with priority given to posts that cover topics for which you’re most interested in ranking. If you’re a plastic surgeon, that might mean auditing all of your existing posts about breast augmentation and liposuction if those are your top two procedures.

When you update a page, we recommend checking for necessary updates, adding fresh content in the opening paragraph, then naturally incorporating internal links to any new related content. If you recently added pages about breast augmentation FAQs and post-surgery healing, then you’ll want to ensure those pages have link juice from other breast augmentation pages and posts on your site.

Tools like Moz’s Open Site Explorer allow you to see how many internal links are going back to each page on your site. This will give you a holistic view of your domain to see how you can move more link juice to specific pages that cover topics related to those top-priority ranking terms.

Of course, sorting through these tools and creating a dynamic strategy for link building takes a dedicated effort. If you’re short on time but eager to improve your link profile, contact us to chat with an expert.