SEO best practice for internal linking

24 October 2017

Internal Linking is one of the most important aspects of website optimisation. Here we will delve into the pitfalls and benefits of internal linking.

Linking individual pages to each other on a website is vital for several reasons. On the one hand, the internal linking serves the purpose of good search engine optimisation: It enhances sub-pages that receive fewer backlinks (incoming links from other sites) and at the same time increases the probability that a search engine will include the sub-pages in the search index. On the other hand, internal links also increase usability if they lead the user to a website or specific page in a sensible way.

According to Google, there are currently more than 60 trillion websites, and Google tries to crawl all of them. The so-called Googlebot calls up individual pages and follows the links on them. The HTML page then reads the information it finds from the HTML pages. Most of the pages on the web are not accessible via external links because there are no external links. These pages are only available to Googlebot if they are linked internally.

Navigation is part of internal linking

It structures the page according to specific topics. The menu of a website is usually already fixed before the launch or relaunch and should only be slightly changed afterwards. Internal links in the text are much easier to implement, however, as the content of the website can be updated more easily and quickly.

The most important guidelines with internal linking

Websites can be linked internally while the content is being created. However, it is advisable to proceed in a targeted and strategic manner meaning that the link should always match the content of the text. You should always ask yourself whether it is a useful link that is clicked on by visitors to the website and whether title tags are used to provide the user with more information. 

The following points are particularly important:

Have a clear structure

In internal linking, the focus is on a clear structure. A single keyword should not link to different targets, just as users should not be lead to a 404 message (a hyperlink that refers to a page that no longer exists). Operators of online shops should pay particular attention to this, as product pages are very often subject to modifications.

Siloing has become established in the structuring of internal linking where the website is divided into several thematically separated areas of the page.  The focus of internal linking lies within the silos which make it easier for search engines to identify core topics. Especially with extensive websites, this can be very time-consuming. However, a good siloing strategy is the basis for optimal internal linking.

Using Linkpower effectively

Linkpower has a significant influence on placement in search results. If several links from one page lead to the same page, the link strength is not used entirely because Google does not rate the page link higher if it has multiple links directed to the same page. Generally speaking, internal linking should be used sparingly, because the more links a page contains, the less link power is given to linked pages.

Breadcrumbs 

Breadcrumbs indicate where you are in the page hierarchy. They represent the directory structure of a website and link the pages hierarchically. Links in sidebars or footers are therefore no longer necessary.  Breadcrumbs usually provide a website with sufficient link power. By linking, users can also quickly access higher levels.

Keywords and meaningful terms 

Users and search engines alike are equally affected by the fact that a link text such as "here" says little or nothing about where the link goes. It is more sensible to use meaningful terms and additionally the use of the already mentioned link titles. This means that both the user and the search engine are directly informed about where the link leads to, without having to analyse the content of the linked page beforehand.

What else to watch out for with internal linking

As a rule, important internal links should not be placed in the footer or the sidebar, but in the main body of the text - preferably at the beginning.

Also, internal links should: 

  • be easily recognisable as such (coloured or underlined)
  • be text and images
  • be semantically related to the content of the text
  • only have a few other links on the site

Tools for optimised internal linking

Even though there are some free tools out there, the majority of powerful tools have to be paid for but they are worth every penny. In the following three of them are briefly introduced.

  • OnPage.org serves both experts and inexperienced users to optimise the architecture of a website. The tool provides detailed explanations of the analysis results as required. In addition to quick access to crawling results, OnPage. org also provides help with error pages and source code monitoring. Beginners will find that the graphical representation of the actual state and the optimisation development are particularly helpful.
  • Screaming Frog is particularly suitable for the in-depth analysis of websites. Users should have experience in dealing with the necessary key figures because the results have to be interpreted in the tool itself.  Screaming Frog analyses the distribution of subpage layers and shows how often they are linked and where the links come from.  It also offers error analyses and can be used for link research. Installed on your PC, Screaming Frog crawls any number of subpages of a domain.
  • Audisto (formerly Strucr) allows the crawling of websites with more than 100,000 pages. Therefore, the tool is suitable for large projects. It also provides analysis results on the architecture of the crawled website, missing title tags or problems with Canonicals. In addition, Audisto includes a feature that makes strong and weakly linked pages visible.

Conclusion: Three good reasons

Internal linking of a website is one of the most demanding tasks in search engine optimisation. The three main goals are user-friendliness, optimal distribution of link strength and optimal conditions for search engine crawling. If you want to test and optimise your website through internal linking, there are some great tools, which are listed below, for professionals and beginners.

Please note: This article was written by an external author. Any opinions or advice shared by the author are their own and not indicative of any official advice or opinions of Thomson Local or its employees.

Please note: This article was written by an external author. Any opinions or advice shared by the author are their own and not indicative of any official advice or opinions of Thomson Local or its employees.

Tagged with:

  • Herbert Buchhorn
  • Internal Links
  • Link Authority
  • SEO
Author -
CEO - Clicks Online Business

Herbert Buchhorn is the CEO of Clicks Online Business (offices in Berlin, Dresden, Cologne, and Munich) and an expert in search engine optimisation (SEO).

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