One of the most overlooked SEO strategies is the power of internal links. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t understand how to use internal links well, and they make mistakes that are extremely detrimental to their SEO.
Internal links can be one of your biggest strengths or one of your biggest weaknesses in your SEO strategy, depending on whether you execute them well. Internal links are the links that point from one page of your website to another. These can be part of the navigation bar, or they can be links within pages that point to related topics.
So what makes internal links so powerful? Google ranks popularity largely through the number of links that are pointed at a specific page, and while outside links from reputable sources are the most powerful type of links you can build, there is still tremendous value in the links that come from within your own website, provided that they’re done correctly.
Every link creates an association between two pages, which means that a link from a strong webpage can boost the page the link is pointing to. You can further create a connection between the pages by using keyword-rich anchor text, which is text you click on to follow the link. So, if you’re targeting a specific search term with a page, you can get it to rank higher on Google by sending links to it internally on your website and using that targeted keyword in the link’s anchor text.
The concept is fairly simple, so where do people so often go wrong with internal links? If you don’t understand the way that Google interacts with and interprets links, it’s easy to use them incorrectly. The most common mistake I see is that a business writes and publishes content, and then internally links to any other page on the website they want to link to rather than approaching it with a strong linking strategy.
Those mistakes might take the form of irrelevant or conflicting anchor text and linking to irrelevant pages. These kinds of mistakes send the wrong signals to Google, which could hurt your rankings. By using internal links incorrectly, you confuse Google’s algorithm, which uses internal links to create a map of connections between pages.
Every time you create a link, you’re telling Google that those two pages are connected. If they aren’t related, it will confuse the algorithm and likely result in both pages being pushed down the list on the search results page, or even cause indexing errors which could result in one or both pages failing to show up in the search results at all.
As you can see, using internal links correctly is an important part of your SEO strategy. So what should you do to maximize the benefit of your internal links and avoid making mistakes that could penalize your web pages?
Start by forming a strong internal link strategy. You’ll want the help of your technical SEO expert to do this. And once you have it in place, you’ll need to follow up regularly with your team to ensure they adhere to the strategy and don’t create problematic internal links on your website. It’s a good idea to do a search for internal linking errors every so often as well, so you can address any problems you find.
To create strong internal links, look for pages that are relevant to one another, and only link pages that are truly relevant. To do this, you can use the search operator site:yourdomain.com intitle:keyword, which will show you all the pages on your site optimized for the keyword you use in the search. This will show you related pages you may be able to link.
When you create an internal link, use specific, relevant, and keyword-rich anchor text. Google uses the anchor text to determine how the two pages are related, and by putting keywords in the anchor text, you further strengthen the connection between that page and the keyword, which is a powerful tool to boost your page in the search results. Irrelevant anchor text, however, can confuse Google and harm that page’s SEO.
As you look for linking opportunities, make sure to only optimize one page for any specific keyword to avoid your pages competing with one another and to avoid confusing Google through conflicting anchor text. If you have two related pages linked together, ensure the anchor text is specific enough to distinguish the difference between them.
Once you have your internal linking strategy in place, check your links regularly and update them as needed. You may not think this is important, but it gives you the opportunity to fix a number of extremely common problems. Keep an eye out for broken links and links to pages that no longer exist, both of which will hurt your Google rankings.
By creating a strong internal linking strategy and following up on it regularly, you’ll create a powerful advantage for your website by maximizing an underutilized tool. Internal links are fairly simple to use well once you know the rules, and they make a big difference in your SEO. Search Engine Optimization works cumulatively, and as you continue to improve your strategy and grow your website, your links will become more valuable and you’ll continue to rank higher on the search results page, bringing in more leads to your business.