Strategic internal linking is an SEO power technique. In this article from my beginner’s guide to SEO series, I’ve chosen to share a few of Neil Patel’s internal linking structure best practices for content marketing, because they the most straightforward and simplest ways to experience search engine optimization uptick.
What is an Internal Link?
Internal links are links that go from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain. They are commonly used in main navigation.
These type of links are useful for three reasons:
- Allow users to navigate a website.
- Help set up information hierarchy for the given website.
- Help spread link juice (ranking power) around websites.
Internal Linking Best Practices
Internal Linking Best Practice 1: Create lots of content
In order to create lots of internal links, you must have lots of internal pages and posts. The first step to a killer internal linking strategy is to have a killer content marketing strategy. You can’t have one without the other.
When you create lots of content, you’ll have lots of linkable content. The more links to the more places, the better your internal linking strategy will be.
Some internal linking strategies propose extremely complex layers of pages, silos of content, and a mathematically balanced formula for some links to levels of pages. I say it doesn’t really matter. Internal linking doesn’t require organizational spreadsheets and trigonometric derivative charts.
An internal linking strategy with lots of content looks less like a org chart, and more like this:
There are no “cycles.” There are no “silos.” There are no “tiers.” There are no structured flow diagrams. There’s just plenty of happy links going to helpful places
Internal Linking Best Practice 2: Use relevant links
Internal linking, as I’ve made clear, is less rigorous and scientific than some might think. But you still have to be intentional. Don’t merely link for the sake of linking. Instead, link to content that is relevant to the source context.
In other words, let’s say I have a page on my site about dog food. And, I have a page on my site about the nesting habits of parakeets. (I have neither.)
Should I link the two pages?
There is not a strong connection between dog food and parakeet nests, especially on a superficial level. These two pages probably won’t provide mutual enhancement from internal cross-linking.
But, if I have a page on parakeet food, then it might make a great internal link for my parakeet nest article. Chances are, information about “parakeets” is going to be on both of the pages. Because of this content overlap, the link is relevant.
As much as possible, link to relevant content in your internal linking.
Internal Linking Best Practice 3: Link deep
The deeper your links go, the better.
There are two types of links you should avoid using in your content:
- Homepage. Most sites have too many links to the homepage as it is. You would rather strengthen internal pages to boost the overall SEO of your site, and not simply point more links at the homepage.
- Contact us. This is a common mistake of many who are starting out in content marketing. As part of their obligatory call to action at the end of a post, they may write something like, “Give us a call to find out more about our awesome services!” Then, they link to the “contact us” page using the anchor “give us a call.” Don’t link to the contact us page unless necessary.
In general, you want to avoid links to the top-level pages on a site — pages to which the main navigation menu already has links.
The best links — and the most natural links in a content marketing strategy — are deep within the structure of a site.
Internal Linking Best Practice 4: Use anchor text
Anchor Text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. In modern browsers, it is often blue and underlined, such as this link to the Moikabi Post homepage.
In keeping with the content theme of internal linking, your internal links should use anchor text as opposed to linked images. Image links are fine, provided that images are not the main source of links, and assuming the image is properly alt-tagged.
The proper usage of anchor text, of course, opens a new can of worms. Obviously, you don’t want optimized anchors. Just use natural, unoptimized sentence fragments as anchor text, and you’ll do just fine. No cute tricks. No over thinking it. Just highlight, link it, and be done.
Also published on Medium.