What are internal links?
Internal links are simply links that point from one page to another in the same domain.
These are vital for users to navigate a site, but often overlooked in SEO terms.
Why are they important?
They allow search engines to find your content, and you can’t be found in search results without it!
While you can submit sitemaps and ping search engines when new content is posted, the primary method is for crawlers to go to your homepage and then crawl from there. the.
Most websites are set up so that if you create a page (blog post, product, etc.) it will be added to your blog listing, product category, sitemap, or elsewhere on your site. If you create a page and there are no links to it, it simply won’t be found by crawlers.
These pages which can not to be found are orphan pages. You may have intentionally created these for PPC landing pages, email campaigns, and other “hidden” resources – but in general you want your URLs to be found!
Much like external links, internal links can be thought of as « votes » for a page, passing fairness from one page to another. It’s on a lesser scale than external links, but it defines a lot about how your site’s hierarchy is formed. Combined with the structure and hierarchy of your folders, the internal linking structure helps crawlers understand which pages are associated with each other.
If you place a lot of importance on a page, it should have lots of links. The opposite is also true – if you don’t need to promote a page, it can be deeper in your site with fewer internal links.
There is also the question of what the anchor text of the link is, and this has been confirmed to be taken into account.
For menu linking and most categories this will happen naturally, but it can become a problem with image links and links in content.
Images and banners with links would ideally be encoded in HTML so that the text can be read correctly. If that can’t be done, you can apply alt tags and text to links on images to help give context.
Links in content (sometimes called contextual links) are simpler. Like blogging and linking, you can link when using the keyword anchor text, but make sure you aren’t spamming and write for the user first.
Looking at sample text from our homepage, here are examples of good and bad contextual internal links.
“Specialized in search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, digital public relations, and paid and social search, we’re here to help…”
« Specialized in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Content Marketing in Southampton, Digital Public Relations and Paid & Social Search, we’re here to help… »
The bad example is indicative of the pre-Penguin era link building methods and does not make sense to the user.
Above we have mentioned the user a few times, and a good SEO should always take that into account.
In terms of internal link, the main points are context and relevance. If your content is about a certain product or service, you can link to it when it is mentioned.
Think of these as informational CTAs, which give the user the opportunity to find out more easily and quickly. It helps users stay informed and can help move on to conversion. Sometimes that can mean an external link, but in this case you can set the link to open a new tab so that they don’t stray completely from your site.
Reasons why your internal link might not work
We know that not all links are created equal, but there are a few things to look out for when working on internal links on your site.
There are many ways to block pages with robots.txt files, meta headers, canonicals, etc. If you point internal links to pages that are blocked, then these could be skipped completely or have a reduced impact.
Unavoidably on any site, redirects can make the user’s journey work, but they’re an extra step for crawlers. Making sure your links are coded correctly and avoiding redirects can help reduce speed, crawl budgets, and generally keep your site healthy. It might seem like a busy job, but if you spend hours cleaning up your external link profile, why shouldn’t you fix what you are in control of?
Users can often interact with different components of the site to access different areas. This could be from drop-down lists, different filters, or custom search features. Some of them will require a send action, which crawlers don’t – so they won’t be explored!
If your category filters or other functions are active and load the page on click rather than submit / confirm, they will most likely be crawled. If you depend too much on your users to restrict searches with these submit-style actions, you could drastically reduce your internal linking possibilities.
A completely outdated practice, but it can still be seen from time to time. Don’t create hidden offscreen links for users. This can sometimes come into play with poorly coded responsive sites, but it’s rare.
Link the amounts
Too much can be a bad thing for many aspects of SEO. Although too many links on a page are not strictly wrong, this may be unnecessary. Crawlers work from top to bottom and will stop after a few hundred internal links on a page.
You should also just link a reasonable amount, rather than every mention like in well-cited articles. If you say “SEO services” you will probably mention it a few times in the content, but you only need to link the first time, not every time.
The exact amount is vague and depends on many factors, but the approximate crawl limit for links on a page is 150. Some pages will be crawled later, but it is wise to bring up your important links or your work may go wrong. to be ignored.
I-frames are often an SEO nightmare, but they’re still used frequently – for third-party services and plugins in particular. While links in I frames can theoretically be crawled, they are also technically located on different URLs to the rest of the page. It is better to keep your important internal links in user-friendly HTML rather than in I-frames.
Linked to some of the other factors above, building sites with plugins can save time and money, but they often have unwanted side effects. One of them is that they can embed I frames, unknown scripts, and third party code that can affect whether links are crawlable. There are too many cases to mention here, but if you are looking for some of the points above, they can often be attributed to plugins.
SEO best practices for internal links
- Give more links to your most important pages and work in a hierarchical structure.
- Make sure your most important links are higher on the page.
- Use anchor text where appropriate, but write for humans, not robots.
- Try to encode the images in HTML or use alt text for them.
- Reduce orphan pages to zero unless they are hidden for some reason.
- Make sure the link target is an indexable page.
- Exclude the links behind user-submitted forms and search functions.
- Link to 200 pages and avoid linking to redirects.
- Do not hide the links to artificially increase the number.
- Keep the number of links relatively low and don’t create multiple links to the same target from one page.
- Make sure third-party code doesn’t conflict with your internal binding, like I-frames, plugins, forms, etc.
It might seem like a lot of stuff to follow, but most of the points above are easy to manage and when completed they will only require minimal maintenance.
As with many aspects of SEO, the emphasis is on crawling and usability of your site. If that sounds bad or frustrating from a user’s perspective, then the search engine bots probably aren’t having a good time either!
The hardest part can be identifying the job to be done rather than getting it done, so if you need help with your internal linking or general SEO, contact us today.
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