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Why Internal Link Structure Matters For SEO Health

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Why Internal Link Structure Matters For SEO Health

Read time 9 min read
Internal link structure SEO

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There is no argument that search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to online ventures’ success. Small businesses explore numerous strategies to implement sound SEO, such as the use of keywords, creation of captivating meta descriptions, optimizing pages’ speed, and so on. However, one of the most effective ways to boost a website’s traffic is understanding how internal links and SEO relate.

Internal links provide three core benefits to a website. Firstly, they help visitors navigate your website effortlessly. Internal links also help users and search engines understand your site’s structure and know the most important pages. Further, having internal links helps distribute authority throughout a website’s pages, such that low ranking pages gain more traffic.

But what is the best way to implement on page internal linking, and how does internal linking help SEO? There is a lot of information trying to provide answers to these questions. In this article, be sure to grasp major internal linking benefits and get crucial insights on including internal links on your website.

FACT: The first step to an amazing internal linking strategy is to spend time on coming up with an AMAZING content marketing strategy. You can’t have one without the other!

What Is The Internal Link Structure?

Internal links are hyperlinks connecting the pages of the same website. Should a user click on it, the link redirects them to a different page on the same domain. Thus, internal links appear on the navigation bar as well as within a site’s content.

So, what do internal links look like? In a website’s content, links appear as regular text but with a different color, usually underlined. In HTML, it appears as:

a href=”http://www.yourdomain.com/internalpage” title=”Anchor-text”

The end-user only sees the anchor text, redirecting to the domain within the reference quotes. Developers call the entire statement an anchor tag.

In terms of links, structure refers to how you link pages of the same domain to each other. As you will realize later on, there are numerous factors to consider when adding your website’s internal links. The optimum structure ensures that all pages have internal links pointing to relevant content.

Why Internal Linking Is Important for SEO Health

Did you know that you can create a new page full of fresh content, and search engines like Google will not know it exists? This scenario plays out when a new page contains no internal and external links, and you do not add it to your sitemap. In SEO, you can call such a page an “orphan page.”

However, you can make all search engines know about the new page by adding internal links in your old blogs pointing to your new one. It would also be a good idea to include three of four links within the new blog’s content. Google is quite explicit about the internal link’s importance. The search engine company explains that their crawler finds new pages by following some old page’s links. Furthermore, they determine the relative importance of a page based on its quality and quantity of internal links.

If the question “how does internal linking help SEO” is on your mind, here are the answers.

Internal Links Improve Your Website’s Navigation

As mentioned, your navigation bar is the first place internal links will appear. Search engine crawlers use them to find the pages to which they point. Within no time, the crawler finds its way through your entire website. How is this helpful in terms of SEO?

You can get a better understanding by acquainting yourself with Google’s organic bot. Essentially, Google uses two bots to crawl and index websites. The Fresh bot constantly looks for updated pages and re-crawls them. It takes a few days to index the content added to old pages. Of course, the bot discovers new internal links and crawls the pages they redirect to.

The other bot, called a Deep Crawl bot, indexes pages once a month. Therefore, if you publish a page without links to older pages, you might wait for an entire month before Google indexes it. Thus, if you want to help search engines add your site’s contents to their database, consider pampering it with internal links while following SEO best practices. You should be on your way to reaping the benefits of fresh content in no time. Here is an image that shows the difference between the Fresh bot and the Deep Crawl bot:

Internal link structure SEO

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(Image Credit: Elliance)

From the user’s side, internal links help them navigate your website swiftly. There is no debate that user-friendliness improves engagement and conversions. Moreover, visitors can spend more time on your site if they locate useful information without a hassle.

From an SEO standpoint, internal links are among the few common interests of search engines and humans.

Internal Links Spread Link Juice

If you are not familiar with the term link juice, it goes something like:

  • Your homepage may get links pointing to it, and it increases its value.
  • If you include links pointing to sub-pages on the homepage, its value trickles down to those linked internal pages.

From the short description, you have probably figured out that link juice refers to ranking power. It makes no sense having high ranking pages and low ranking ones on the same website. Why not distribute the strength of well-performing pages to newer ones?

It is important to understand that high ranking pages do not spread the link juice proportionately. For example, if a home page has four internal links, it does not mean that the sub-pages will get a 25% page boost. Google’s algorithm considers other factors, such as the quality of links when determining the page’s rank. However, it is for sure that internal links work to better SEO.

You should also know that internal links will advance your sites PageRank. PageRank is a metric by Google to determine how important a page is based on its backlinks. Link juice improves a page’s authority, thus increasing its PageRank.

While PageRank is not the sole consideration when implementing SEO, it does make algorithms rank your site higher. And internal links are a way to get the PageRank up.

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Internal Links Increase User Engagement

Once a user reads about a topic on your website, they can find internal links useful if they need additional information. You can redirect them to posts by a similar author or even call to action pages with the links. In so doing, you have a chance of keeping users glued to your site. The increased engagement has two main merits.

To begin with, it reduces the bounce rate. The bounce rate indicates the percentage of visitors that turn away from your site as soon as they navigate it. It may be because the site loaded too slowly, or they never found what they needed. What can you do about it? You can track your bounce rate using tools such as Google Analytics:

Internal link structure SEO

(Image Credit: OptinMonster)

By including links, you ease the process of finding relevant related content. When users locate the desired information, they may stay on your website, thereby plummeting the bounce rate. From an SEO point of view, this is a major score for you. Search engines classify low bounce rate sites as having quality content; hence they rank the web pages high.

The other possible benefit of increased engagement is a higher number of page views. If visitors find your website’s content captivating, they have all the reasons to check out other pages. If this happens, your reward for increased traffic materializes almost instantly. Again, increased traffic means search engines trust your site more and leads to better ranking.

Internal Links Establish Website Architecture

Website architecture is a term that captures how you structure your website. The best link structure for SEO will flesh out your site such that visitors easily understand where to look for relevant information. Users can readily understand what pages are most important and the ones that are sub-pages.

How is this important for SEO?

Well, remember the benefits of engagement? The merits of sound website architecture include a better user experience. Visitors may prefer to stay longer if they find it attractive and easy to use. With that comes increased traffic, and afterward, a higher rank.

It is also worth noting that a clear path to content has the benefit of increasing the earning ability of deep internal pages. Without internal links, visitors may only scratch the surface of your site and leave tons of information untouched. Additionally, search engines might have a problem crawling deep pages without links. With proper website architecture, crawlers will have an easy time indexing your site and displaying it in SERPs.

Summing it all up, internal links are among the ideal ways of implementing SEO on your website. The single greatest advantage of internal links is that you can control them. Thus, targeting anchor text keywords becomes significantly easier.

It is also very easy to create a quality internal link. While you need approximately three hours to create a worthwhile backlink, three seconds are sufficient to include valuable internal links.

Other than the benefits discussed above, internal links allow you to:

  • Increasing traffic to old posts by linking it with fresh content
  • Reduce instances of keyword cannibalization
  • Increase long-tail keywords presence

Four Tips on Using Internal Links like A Pro

Solidifying the internal link structure SEO improvement connections goes beyond answering the question, “what is internal linking.” You have to be conversant with the workings of search engine ranking algorithms. It would also help if you understood the basics of user experience.

As complicated as it may sound, on page internal linking is no rocket science. Once you understand why you need internal links on your website, some simple tricks help you use them as an expert. Here is a look at what works.

Create a Lot of Fresh Content

Internal links can be anywhere on your website. Some appear on the navigation bar, on footers, sidebars, and within the content. Generally, search engines consider internal links within a site’s content more valuable since it is there for the user. Thus, these are the links you want to target. For instance:

Internal link structure SEO

(Image Credit: Blogail)

But how do you add internal links without fresh content? Well, it is almost impossible unless you delete old links and replace them with new ones (a poor SEO practice). That is why you need to create many quality blogs, which will feature on your site.

If you can upload a blog post every single day, there is no harm. But the cost of doing so might be high. Therefore, you can do two posts per week, each clocking approximately 1500 words. While creating content, remember not to ignore other SEO considerations such as the use of keywords. There are plenty of resources that give insights on what keywords would help increase your site’s ranking.

In the early days of SEO, it was normal to silo content. When siloing, SEOs would categorize information under various classes trying to improve keywords’ presence. While silos are very much in use today, you can avoid using it and still attain a good internal linking structure. All you need to do is provide relevant links throughout your blogs.

FACTS: High-quality content and link building are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search. In fact, 57% of marketing executives say on-page content development was the most effective SEO tactic.

We hope that you found this article useful.

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Link to Deep Internal Pages

In almost any website, the homepage houses most of the internal links. While this is not entirely a bad thing, avoid linking to your index page too many times. It is usually the first page that crawlers index and visitors see. It, therefore, makes no sense sending them to it over and over again.

At the same time, it is poor practice to link to your “contact us” and “about us” pages repeatedly. It is logical to finish your blog posts with a CTA linked to the contact page. However, in the SEO sense, it is not helpful. Generally, the best link structure for SEO tries not to use navigation bar links when linking internally.

So how should you do on page internal linking? Include three of four links within new blog posts. Let them link deep, advisedly to older blog posts with relevant information.

Remember, each page should contain about 150 links, as that is how many bots crawls per page. While at it, remember to double-check the navigation bar and footer links. They can escalate the counter and deny other internal links the chance of getting indexed.

Link Naturally and Relevantly

It would be unwise to skew a sentence to include internal links. Let your link come across as non-intrusive such that a user perceives it as a way of getting more information. As much as linking internally helps SEO, its primary intent is to increase a page’s value to the visitor.

On the same note, be sure to point the user to relevant content. Be sure not to include a link about cars in a blog post about baby diapers. However, you might find creative ways of linking unrelated content such as diapers and toddler hospitals.

Avoid Rel=” Nofollow” 

When trying to concentrate authority on a single page, SEOs would use the nofollow meta tags. Today, nofollow PageRank sculpting is still useful when linking to web resources such as insecure sites. However, it does not work in SEO. This is what a nofollow link would look like:

Internal link structure SEO

(Image Credit: Elegant Themes)

It is agreeable that the value derived from links should flow non-stop. If you strongly feel that you must use a nofollow, consider removing the link altogether. It is beneficial to scan your website for irrelevant and low-value links that require removal. The flow of your links is far more important than their quantity.

Diib®: Assess the SEO Health of Your Internal Link Structure

Internal links and SEO have a straightforward relationship. The more the number of links within a page’s content, the higher its PageRank and organic traffic. Internal links are among the cheapest, most effective ways of bettering it. It is a simple strategy whose return on investment remains almost unrivaled.

As the benefits of an exceptional internal linking structure are so clear, it makes sense to pursue them now. Diib Digital offers a User Dashboard designed to help you to easily see the health of your internal link structure and alert you to any algorithm changes that could affect your traffic patterns. Here are some of the features that our clients report loving:

  • Bounce rate monitoring and repair
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  • Keyword, backlink (including anchor), and indexing monitoring and tracking tools
  • User experience and mobile speed optimization
  • Technical SEO monitoring, including internal link health

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Internal linking refers to the process of linking pages of the same website. Ideally, the links should be within a site’s content instead of appearing on the navigation bar.

Internal links help spread authority from high value to lower value pages. Additionally, they improve a page’s rank by increasing its PageRank. By guiding users through a site, it increases traffic and rank.

There is no automatic number of links to include in a post. The ideal number is four. However, if you have not breached the 150 links per page limit, you can increase links per post to twenty.

Focus on the user. If your internal link structure SEO efforts are for search engines and search engines only, your links are probably spam.

Internal links lead your users to another page within your domain or website. The menu bar at the top of your website includes the internal links for your website. External links point to a different website or domain. Internal links only point within your own specific website or domain.


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Daniel Urmann

Author Bio:

Daniel Urmann is the co-founder of Diib.com. Over the past 17 years Daniel has helped thousands of business grow online through SEO, social media, and paid advertising. Today, Diib helps over 150,000 business globally grow online with their SaaS offerings. Daniel’s interest include SMB analytics, big data, predictive analytics, enterprise and SMB search engine optimization (SEO), CRO optimization, social media advertising, A/B testing, programatic and geo-targeting, PPC, and e-commerce. He holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) focused in Finance and E-commerce from Cornell University – S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management.


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