Search engine optimization isn’t just about being found through online search, it’s about putting your best content in front of the right people. The key to being found by your ideal niche is doing everything within your power to make sure search engines are able to figure out what you do in order to refer the right traffic to your site. One of the easiest tools to neglect in optimizing SEO is internal linking within your website.
Internal linking is a valuable tool you can use to help a search engine figure out which pages on your website are the most valuable. Dave Davies writes for Search Engine Watch that, a link from the homepage of a site or another strong page will be weighted higher than a link from a weak page 12 levels deep in its hierarchy.
Highlight Important Pages through Internal Links
If you want to highlight a signature products landing page, vitally important content in a blog post, or your company’s about page for search engines, you can build more internal links to those pages. Brian Whalley writes at HubSpot, Start by considering how a search engine understands the value of an internal link; it’s looking at how many pages on your website link to that page, and how they link to it. If every page of your website links to something, it must be important to you — like your homepage, or your blog’s homepage.
In other words, you need to link to particular pages so frequently that search engines can’t help but notice them. In fact, Dave Davies of Search Engine Watch warns against having too many pages or links to old product pages that are no longer relevant. When possible, delete old pages that are no longer necessary in order to focus on the pages that are critical to your success.
Internal Linking Provides a Hub for Search Engines and Visitors
One of the ways internal linking can become a win for both search engines and website visitors is by creating hub pages or resource guides that link to related content that visitors would otherwise be unable to find. In addition, these hub pages become invaluable for search engines as they crawl your site and try to determine which content is most relevant. Even a F.A.Q. page can serve as a hub page that interlinks your most important pages together.
Mark Kilens of HubSpot writes about internal linking basics, make sure you have at least three internal links that link to the page you’re optimizing. The links anchor text should have keywords that are included in the page you’re linking to. In other words, a hub page can become your SEO powerhouse that targets the most relevant keywords for your business and provides visitors with links to your best content rather than leaving them to sort through your latest blog posts.
A Word of Caution about Internal Linking for SEO
While internal linking can leverage the authority of your website and help search engines find the best content you have, there is a limit to the power of internal linking. Rand Fishkin of SEO Moz cautions that the value of internal links can sometimes hit a threshold. He writes, My general suggestion going forward is to link to pages with optimized links to help with link juice flow, but not necessarily obsess over the anchor text.
In addition, the more competitive the keyword phrase, the harder it will be to push your way to the top in the short term by improving your internal links.
Internal links do not replace effective content marketing or link building at external sites, but they do provide both users and search engines with valuable insight into your site’s content. They’re especially effective at building on the SEO gains you’ve already made with your site by exposing search engines and visitors to some of your best existing content.
This post was first published in June 2012; updated September 2021