Why internal linking matters (more than ever) in 2022
If you’re new to the world of SEO (welcome), then you may have heard a thing or two about the importance of link building. While pushing for external sites to link to your site is crucial, internal linking has continued to grow in importance. Rather than prioritising internal linking, SEO agencies and brands too often focus on other tactics. In doing so, they fail to reap the rewards of internal link building, particularly in 2022.
Why are internal links so valuable?
There are multiple technical benefits to internal link building, from ensuring all of your pages are crawled frequently by the Googlebot, to helping search engines discover your new content. Linking internally also helps to distribute PageRank, which is a benefit of linking that is far too often overlooked.
As you might be aware, creating strong backlinks is crucial for directing PageRank on your site, but with internal links, you can control the target location of the link itself. As such, you can directly contribute that essential link equity from your pages that receive the most links to those that receive the fewest.
As most backlinks point to informational pages and not those that are transactional, internal linking helps you bridge the gap, thus boosting the authority of some of your transactional pages.
How to implement internal links effectively: Six steps
Step 1: Where relevant, link within the main content
From a PageRank perspective, internal links within the primary content of the page have the most value. This is because Google’s behaviour is similar to that of users’ when they’re looking for content to prioritise.
Users are more likely to be engaged with the main content of a page, meaning there’s more chance of them clicking on a link that is within the main content. We can deduce that Google is more likely to apply stronger weighting to links in the main content than those otherwise situated on a page.
Step 2: Add links to the site navigation
Adding links within the header is also super helpful when it comes to passing on PageRank. While they might not be as impactful as passing contextual authority within the main content, the fact that they sit at the top of every page makes them valuable. As a result, Google is more likely to prioritise these links.
There’s also value in adding links to the footer for similar reasons, although it’s not as prominent a position as links in the header. Still, incorporating links into the site navigation is an effective way to link internally and can help with the indexing of your site.
Step 3: Utilise breadcrumbs
One of the most underutilised forms of internal linking is the use of breadcrumbs. They’re really powerful for passing on PageRank and make it really easy for visitors to navigate your site. Usually, breadcrumbs sit at the top of every page and hold so much value when it comes to passing authority.
Another thing to consider is that breadcrumbs also reflect the structure of your website. As such, your most important features that are high up on the site’s architecture will be internally linked via the breadcrumbs.
Step 4: Link to your most valuable content
Due to its commercial nature, it’s often difficult to attract links to the most valuable content on your site. So, to bridge this gap, it’s so important to link from sites with strong authority, as this drives traffic to the revenue pages on your site.
You can use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to find relevant, authoritative pages to link to by looking in the “Best by links” report. This allows you to bridge the authority gap and bring traffic to specific pages on your website.
Step 5: Compose relevant anchor text
The anchor text of a link is really important to get right, as Google reads the surrounding content of a link when deciding on authority. Your anchor text should be succinct, natural, keyword-rich, topically relevant, and descriptive. Avoid generic text like “click here” as it doesn’t provide a great deal of value to Google.
Authoring rich anchor text for your internal links will help you pass on PageRank and ensures that your internal link building is effective.
Step 6: Audit your internal links for errors
Something to be mindful of is that internal links that have technical errors could lead to PageRank leakage. For instance, when you link to a URL that results in a 404 status, you are essentially wasting your link equity.
Auditing your links is important for the overall health of your site and will ensure that you’re redirecting your visitors to relevant sections of your website.
Ready to kickstart your SEO strategy and improve your internal links, backlinks, and domain authority? Find out more about how Terrier can propel your brand to the top of Google’s search results today, and get in touch for more information.