Internal Links SEO Usage Guide

Without internal links, your content cannot be ranked; this guide will discuss usage of internal linking and how it can boost your site's SEO

BlogSEO
Updated on November 11, 2022
Internal Links SEO Usage Guide

Internal links are links that go from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain; see this article for a guide on how internal linking can help boost your site’s SEO with internal links usage, helping Google find your content.

Google finds your posts and pages best when linked to from somewhere on the web. Internal links also connect your content and give Google an idea of the structure of your website. They can establish a hierarchy on your site, allowing you to give the most important pages and posts more link value than other, less valuable pages. So, using a guide to a correct internal linking strategy can boost your SEO.

Internal links x external links: Every website consists of internal and external links. Internal links connect pages and posts on your website, and external links connect your pages to other websites. This guide has focused on internal links and what they mean for SEO. See our posts on link building if you want to get more external links pointing to your site.

You publish a new web page and need to remember to link to it from elsewhere on your site. If Google determines that a page is not in your sitemap and has no backlinks, Google is unaware of its existence. This is because web crawlers can’t find it.

Internal links help Google find, index, and understand all the pages on your site. In addition, strategic use of internal links can send page authority (aka PageRank) to important pages. So, the usage of internal links is very important for SEO and any website aiming for a high ranking on Google.

Relationships Between Content

Google crawls websites by following internal and external links using a bot called Google bot. This bot arrives at the homepage of a website, starts to render the page, and follows the first link. By following links, Google can work out the relationship between the various pages, posts, and other content. This way, Google finds out which pages on your site cover a similar subject matter.

For example, in the sidebar of this post, you’ll see links to the category ‘Content SEO’ and the ‘Internal linking’ and ‘Site structure’ tags. We make sure Google understands that the content on those pages is related to the content of this post by adding these links.

In addition to understanding the relationship between content, Google divides the link value between all links on a web page. Often, the homepage of a website has the greatest link value because it has the most backlinks. That link value will be shared between all the links on that homepage. The link value passed to the following page will be divided between the links on that page and so on.

Therefore, your newest blog posts will get more link value if you link to them from the homepage instead of only on the category page. And Google will find new posts quicker if they’re linked to from the homepage.

When you understand the value of Internal Links SEO usage, you’ll know that more links to a post mean more value. As Google considers a page that receives a lot of valuable links important, you will increase the chance of your ranking.

Internal Linking SEO
Internal Linking SEO

Your SEO must evaluate and improve your internal linking strategy regularly. By adding the right internal links, you make sure Google understands the relevance of pages, the relationship between pages, and the value of pages.

The Ideal Structure

We always advise website owners to imagine their website to be a pyramid with the most important content on top. We call those articles cornerstone content. There should be lots of links to the most essential content from topically-related pages in the pyramid, which passes the most link value onto those pages. However, you should also link from those top pages to subpages about related topics. Linking internally to related content shows Google what pages hold information about similar topics.

Linking Your Cornerstone Content: An Example

By adding internal links from other relevant articles, Google will understand that the cornerstone content article contains the most information about this particular keyword. So ultimately, Google will rank the cornerstone content above other, shorter posts about keyword research.

In addition to links to topic-related posts and pages, you can make your main content more authoritative. This is by adding links to it on the homepage or top navigation. This will give the most important posts or pages a lot of link value. And that will make them stronger in Google’s eyes.

Linking to Taxonomies

If you run a blog, it could be beneficial to add internal links to the taxonomies the post belongs to. Adding links to the category and tags helps Google understand your blog’s structure and helps visitors navigate related posts more easily. At Yoast, we always link to the matching categories and tags in the sidebar of each post:

Linking to taxonomies helps Google and users to understand your site.

We’ve already seen that linking to related posts helps Google to understand your site structure. But it also helps to link to one or more related posts at the end of your article. Some many available plugins and modules add complete related post sections to your posts. If you use one, we recommend testing whether the related posts are the best-related posts. If you’re unsure, linking to posts manually (or using our internal linking tool – more on that later) is probably best.

The last option to mention is creating internal links to the most popular or newest posts on your website. These are best in the sidebar of your blog or the footer of your website to show it on all pages and posts.

Creating a popular or recent posts section benefits you because link value passes to the linked posts from many different pages and posts. Also, posts will be easier for visitors to access, increasing traffic – using a guide to a correct internal links strategy and more traffic to your site is also a positive sign for SEO and Google.

You also probably have links that aren’t important for SEO on your website. If you have a login link for your clients on the homepage, for example, you don’t want to leak link value to your login page – that page doesn’t need to rank high in the search results.

You used to be able to prevent losing link value to unimportant links by giving them a ‘no-follow’ tag. A ‘no-follow’ tag asks Google not to follow the link: so no link value is lost. Now you might think: “I’m going to ‘no-follow’ less important links to give the most important links more link value.” While this worked in the past, Google has become smarter. Now it seems that the link value for the whole page completely disappears when you add a ‘no-follow’ tag to a link. Therefore it makes more sense to have fewer links on a page instead of ‘no-following’ some of the links.

Adding a ‘no-follow’ tag doesn’t mean that those target pages can’t be found in Google’s search results. If you don’t want pages or posts to appear in the search results, you should give them a ‘no-index’ tag. The ‘no-index’ tag means that Google shouldn’t render the page and shouldn’t give the content a place in the Google index to show up in the search results.

Anchor Text

Once you have decided which links should be on a page and which pages should get link value, it’s important to use the right anchor text. The anchor text is the clickable text that visitors see. For example, the anchor text of the two internal links in the example below are ‘link schemes’ and ‘paid links:

If you over-optimize anchor text, you might hurt your website. And by over-optimizing, we mean keyword stuffing. Previously, you could give all anchor texts the same keyword, and Google made your website rank higher for that keyword. Nowadays, Google is smart enough to understand that the content around the anchor text says more about the relevancy of a keyword than the anchor text itself. So make sure the anchor text looks natural in your copy: it’s fine to use keywords but don’t add the exact same keywords to every link’s anchor text.

Yoast SEO Premium plugin helps you improve your internal link structure with its internal link suggestion tool. It also helps you find related posts to link to. When you’re writing a post, you can immediately link to a related post by dragging the link into the editor. The plugin also includes an option to mark your most important articles as cornerstone content, which tells the suggestion tool to show those cornerstone content articles at the top of the list, so you’ll never forget to link to them!

In the free version of Yoast SEO, you’ll also find a handy tool called the text link counter. This tool counts the internal links in a post and the internal links pointing to a post. This visualizes which posts could use more links or should receive more. This will all help you work purposely on your site structure.

Conclusion

Without the usage of internal SEO links, your content cannot rank! With a solid internal linking strategy, you can show what content is related and which of your articles are most informative and valuable. If you follow the guide in this post, both Google and your users will understand your site better, so the usage of internal links is very important for SEO and any site that aims to rank high on Google.