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Internal Linking is the Backbone of SEO

Internal Linking is the Backbone of SEO

Written by enCOMPASS Agency

With algorithmic updates happening regularly, and new SEO strategies making headlines seemingly every day, it’s easy for marketers to get caught up in the rush of what’s new. We can’t let fresh strategies or industry trend distract us completely from the tried-and-true practices that remain at the bedrock of effective marketing, though. One of those practices—not at all flashy, but deeply significant to any effort at successful SEO—is internal content linking.

Internal linking is integral to creating fully optimized content. It provides a clear path for users to follow from one page of your website to the next, or from one blog post to a related one. And it’s not just human readers who can follow this path, but search engine bots, as well.

The bottom line for marketers is that internal linking provides added visibility for your content, it enhances the user experience, and it can very seriously improve your Google rankings. As such, it’s worth pausing for a moment to review some of the basics of effective internal linking.

An Overview of Smart Internal Linking

There are, of course, right ways and wrong ways to link properly. Linking to a piece of relevant, related content might be considered a smart and Google-approved SEO tactic, then, but stuffing your content full of irrelevant links qualifies as black hat SEO. Not only could this frustrate your readers and cause them to lose trust in your content, but it can also result in search engine penalties.

The overarching concept behind internal linking is to provide your users with a logical path through your content—leading them to different answers or to value-adding information. If you’ve ever gotten lost in Wikipedia, clicking one link after another and becoming absorbed by the different topics you find, you know how good internal linking is supposed to work. It’s supposed to beckon the reader to keep exploring your content for as long as he or she wishes.

As such, internal linking isn’t about achieving a certain number of links. Rather, it’s about linking as much as you can while still offering your readers something of relevance and value. If you have five blog posts that all connect to the topic you’re currently addressing, by all means link to all five—but don’t shoehorn them in just for the sake of having links. Again, you’re going for quality, relevant links—not sheer volume of links.

The implication of all this is that, if you have a lot of content, you’ll probably have a lot of links. That’s perfectly fine, and in fact, it’s a good reason to develop more unique content: It provides you with more opportunities for internal linking!

Some Specific Strategies for Internal Linking

With regard to some specific linking practices, here are a few additional recommendations that we’d make.

Avoid tricks. Use our comments above to guide you, and to remind you that the point of linking is to offer valuable resources to your reader—period. As such, invisible links or enormous lists of “keyword resources” in the footer of your page are to be avoided. These are blatant attempts at link-stuffing, and offer no value to the reader. As such, Google is unlikely to reward these efforts.

Link to real, content-heavy posts. If your aim is to provide your readers with some additional value, then your links should generally be to content-heavy posts or pages. A link to a content-light page, such as your Contact Us page or a more generic landing page, is not going to offer much value to the reader, and as such it is something of a wasted opportunity.

Use descriptive anchor text. It’s also important to consider the actual words on the page that you are using to create your hyperlinks—your anchor text. Choose text that is as specific and as descriptive as possible. For an example, consider this sentence: “A recent article from The New York Times provides some compelling statistics.” Your anchor text could be either “The New York Times” or even “compelling statistics,” but you probably don’t want to make it “recent article,” which is not descriptive at all.

Update your internal links as often as necessary. If you go through a major site redesign or overhaul, it’s possible that some of your old links won’t work any more; likewise, as you add more and more content to your website, you’ll have opportunities to revisit older posts and insert some new, relevant links. We recommend auditing your site as often as possible to repair any broken links, as well as to add some new ones.

Include plenty of links in each post, but keep them logical. It’s worth the effort to pause for a minute before you publish a new blog post and scan your site for a few good, internal links to include. Just remember to be logical in your linking. When you pad out your post with a lot of irrelevant links, it comes across as either desperate or duplicitous—and it can cause your readers to lose trust in your website.

Make Internal Linking a Priority

Developing good online content isn’t just about writing or design; something as simple as linking carries enormous value, both to your readers and to your own SEO endeavors. As such, internal linking is worth getting right.

We can help you do so, and to make linking integral to all your other digital marketing endeavors. We invite you to contact us today to learn more about our services in SEO, content development, and beyond.