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Why Internal Linking is an SEO Essential

Why Internal Linking is an SEO Essential

Written by enCOMPASS Agency

“Link building” has long been a popular phrase in SEO circles—and not without reason. Links to other websites can play an important role in developing your own site’s reputation and authority. Sometimes, though, the emphasis on link building is a little one-sided, slanted toward the inclusion of external links, as well as backlinks from relevant third-party sites.

What’s often left on the table is internal linking. Simply put, linking from one area of your website to another can also be highly beneficial to your SEO endeavors. In this post, we’re going to take a quick look at what makes internal linking so important.

What is Link Equity?

The first thing that makes internal linking so important is that it allows you to maintain link equity throughout your website.

Here’s what that means. External links lend credibility to your website. If a certain page receives a backlink from a relevant, external site, it signals to the search algorithms that your page is reputable and trustworthy.

The benefit of an external link is attributed primarily to the specific page that’s linked to, however. In other words, if you get a backlink to your About Us page, it benefits the About Us page, but may not offer as much SEO benefit to your Products page, your Services page, your FAQ page, etc.

That’s where internal links are invaluable. When you judiciously employ internal links to interconnect the different pages of your site, it helps you pass along some of those external link SEO benefits to the rest of your site. It creates link equity throughout your website, rather than concentrating the SEO benefit to a single page.

This can be a boon, not least because some areas of your website are bound to get more backlinks than another. Often, it’s your high converting “money pages” that receive the fewest backlinks. When you link to those pages from elsewhere on your site, however, you can transfer the SEO benefit of a good backlink even to pages that have no backlinks of their own.

Also note that internal links can be beneficial as you launch a new page. Indeed, when you launch a new section of your website, it makes sense to “jumpstart” it with some internal links before you seek out external ones, proving to the search algorithms that the page has some relevance right out of the gate.

Internal Link Building Strategy

It’s important to note that you can’t just load your website with indiscriminate internal linking and expect to get a big SEO boost. A much higher level of strategy is required.

The most important aspect here is contextual relevance. Simply put, your internal links have to make sense. You should always be linking to pages that offer ancillary or related content. The idea is to provide the reader with a logical, linear navigation throughout your site—e.g., “if you’re interested in {this topic}, here’s another page that you might find valuable.”

Also note that internal linking can help you signal to Google which pages are most important to you. This is pretty simple: the more internal links you have pointing toward a particular page, the more importance Google will attribute to it. So, if you want your SEO efforts to really focus on one or two areas of your website, those are the areas where you want to direct the most internal links.

While it’s important to think about how internal links are perceived by the algorithms, it’s just as important to think about their effect on the end user. Indeed, internal linking can have a major impact on your website user experience, or UX—and when done properly, it should provide a seamless flow throughout your content, giving your readers ample reason to stay tuned into your site rather than navigating away.

To that end, it makes sense to think about the most likely entry points to your website (especially your home page), but also the pages that may be buried a little deeper within your website’s architecture. The pages in the latter category are the ones that can probably stand a little navigational boost, and internal linking can make that happen.

Finally, the anchor text you use for internal linking is critical. Most SEO professionals attest that internal linking is one instance where exact match anchor text is acceptable; at the very least, you want your anchor text to be as clear and as specific as possible, providing your readers a stark picture of what it is you’re linking to.

Learn More About SEO Best Practices

Curious about what an effective internal linking strategy really looks like, or wondering how you can step up your own internal link game? Our team is always happy to chat about these issues. Feel free to give us a call any time you’d like to have a discussion.