Internal Linking Basics
Quick and easy to do while writing content, Internal linking is a vital part of your websites structure, making it easier for visitors to navigate and search engine crawlers (spiders) to index your website properly, boosting your rankings.
What is Internal linking?
These are links in the content of your website pages that link to other pages (or content on those other pages) on your website, as these links are all contained within your website they are internal links, as opposed to external links which are links to other websites.
Why Should I Use Internal linking?
1. Google likes internal links and use them as one of their ranking factors. 60%+ percent of your websites traffic comes from search engines and 89% of all searches are made through Google, keeping Google happy is reason enough.
2. They enable your visitors to navigate to content that interests them without constantly going back to your menu bar. Ease of navigation is one of the UX (User experience) factors Google uses to rank websites. It also keeps visitors engaged and an engaged visitor is on their way to becoming a customer.
3. They provide an information hierarchy for your website, this allows the search engine crawlers (spiders) to follow links through the site to every page, if you have no internal links to a page, the spiders can't see it, if it can't be seen it cant be indexed so cannot be ranked. no matter how great it is.
4. They spread link juice (ranking power) around your website, if you have a high-ranking page linking to a low ranking one it will pull it up, sometimes internal linking is all that's needed to push a page listed on page 2 of the SERPS (Search Engine Result Pages) up to page 1
Do I Need to Know Coding To Create Internal Links?
No, your WordPress Visual editor lets you insert them without needing any coding knowledge. You will need to know what an internal link looks like in code as you may want to edit it, but you don't need to know the details of how it works, just what it does.
Here is what a link to our free website tools page looks like when included in our content:
"to help you further take a look at our Free Website Tools where you'll find more free SEO tools"
The text highlighted in blue and underlined is called the anchor text. This is the text you click on to go to the target page. What it looks like in HTML code is:
<a href="http://www.mekatrig.com/free-website-tools/">Free Website tools</a>
- HTML Coded instructions are always written between two brackets < > and do not appear in the text. But spiders can read them.
- The 'a href=' is saying "Here is a web address to go to when the anchor text is clicked on".
- The "http://www.mekatrig.com/free-website-tools/" is the address, just as it would appear in the address bar.
- The '>Free Website Tools<' is the anchor text notice the end of code bracket at the beginning and the start code bracket at the end this is saying, "This bit is not code so it can appear in the text."
- The '/a' says "End of code instruction 'a href=' and the closing bracket '>' lets us know the code in finished so any text written afterwards will be printed as normal.
Knowing this you can change the address you want the link to point to or change the anchor text. While the visual editor will do this for you sometimes you may want to do it yourself.
How do I create internal links?
To link to existing page highlight the text you want to use as anchor text then click on the hyperlink icon in your visual editor menu.
A box will appear under the text, either type in a keyword for the content you wish to link to select the page then click on the return arrow to save. Or click on the gear wheel and a larger box will pop up listing all the pages on your website, click on the one you want to link to, then click on the update button to save.
Linking to content within pages
To link straight to content in the body of a page you need to put a tag at the beginning of the content you want to link to.
You do this by scrolling to the start of the content and clicking on the Anchor Icon, a box will appear titled ID you put a snippet of text in here which describes the content you're linking to.
If you don't have an anchor tag in your visual editor then download the free Black Studio TinyMCE Widget and TinyMCE Advanced Plug-ins. They will upgrade your visual editor, add a suite of very useful tools (including an anchor tag) to make your content writing easier.
Highlight your anchor text, type #"content ID" in the address box then when someone clicks on that text they will jump to that anchor point.
This is how you can get people to jump from the beginning of your page to the part of the content they want to see without them scrolling down.
Linking to content in the body of other pages
You follow the same creating an anchor point procedure as linking to content within the same page
When you go to the page where you want to put your internal link pointing to that content, highlight your anchor text and select the page the content is on, at the end of the URL add /# "content ID" so when someone clicks on the anchor text they will go straight to the part of the page you want them to read.
Are There Any Rules I Need to follow?
Search engines have guidelines to help you build a good internal linking structure which helps both your visitors and the search engines spiders to navigate and map your website properly.
- You need to allow the spiders to get to any page on your website from your homepage in the minimum number of links.
- Do not link every page on your website to every other page, linking has to follow a logical structure.
- Do not put massive site-wide menus in the footer linking to every page, too many links from too many pages may be misread by spiders as spam.
- The maximum amount of internal links to have on any one page is 150, that's the crawl limit for spiders, they will not follow any more. If they consider a page important enough they may follow another 50 or so but don't count on it. Very few small websites will have more than a dozen or so on each page.
- Internal links should be included as a natural part of the text, use descriptive words in anchor text that indicate the topic or information you are linking to, don't just use "click here" as your anchor text.
- Do not use Images as your main source of links (unless you have a gallery page). For any you do use ensure the ALT tags have a good description of the image and contain one of your keywords (ALT tags should have a 16 word maximum as spiders will not read more). To see how to choose keywords see our Article on Keyword Planning
- Do not use internal links to your home or contact pages, these already have multiple links.
- Spiders will not follow links through internal search boxes. So make sure all pages have some internal links to them.
- Spiders will not follow links to pages activated when a visitor submits a form (registration, requesting a freebie etc...). You need separate internal links to these pages.
Your main pages have links on the Nav bar so are linked to from every page, you may have links in your footer menu (Privacy, Contact, Site map etc...) which are also linked from every page, there is no need to internally link to any of these pages unless it is necessary.
The idea is to provide links to pages which are deeper within your website : Blog posts, articles, information, user guides etc... Where links are not on a Nav bar or menu, these pages need to be crawled by spiders so they can be indexed.
Put more internal links on higher ranking pages, use Google search console to see which pages attract the most traffic then add internal links to other pages from them.
Non Specific (Random) Linking
Don't just throw in a random link, whatever your visitor is reading the link has to add to the experience of using your website and once the link is followed you do not want them to be disappointed by what they find.
If someone is reading your article about the Samsung Galaxy smart phone range and in the text you have a link to an article on headphones then why should they follow the link?
Or worse still, claim to link to something relevant but don't and visitors will navigate away from your website, possibly never to return. If they are reading about Samsung phones and your link leads to an article on the 10 best-selling phones, they have already researched all that, that's why they are specifically looking at Samsung.
To the visitor you are not providing relevant content about what they are in the process of buying, you are just trying to sell them a phone, any phone without even the pretense of caring about their needs. This is bad UX, it loses you customers and will attract Google penalties.
Far better to link each phone model to an in-depth review, this adds relevance and is relevent info' and may be the lever that gets them to click the "Buy This Phone" button.
This link would also help to get your review pages indexed so when some one serachs for "Samsung Galaxy Review" your review page has more chance of having a higher ranking in the SERPS.
When linking to content within a page you are signalling to both the search engine and the user that the content you’re linking to is really good. So good they should stop what they are reading and jump to it, internal linking is helping the reader and your SEO.
How do I stop a link being followed?
Eg:- You have links to your administrative pages that wouldn't be of any use to a search visitor like a privacy, terms of service or login page
This is why you need to know what the code looks like.
In your visual editor box click the text box, you will see all the link code which has been written for you when you've used the insert link tab or anchor tab.
Look for the line with the link you want to edit.
(I've highlighted the anchor text, in the text editor it wont show in blue).
You need to tell the spiders not to follow this link so add rel="nofollow" This command tells them not to follow the link.
Be very careful with rel="nofollow", as the idea is to allow spiders to follow links, build a site hierarchy and spread ranking juice. Is it really so important that these pages are not crawled?
The "rel=nofollow" command is normally used with external linking to stop spiders following certain links off your website. A link is a vote of confidence in the site you are linking to, so there are some websites you may link to but do not want to give that vote to, or are forbidden by Google policy. These may be links from:
- Comments which you have not created and so cannot trust
- Paid ads. From advertisers, affiliate , guest posts etc...
- Links to unreliable sites (why are you linking to these anyway unless as a warning?)
- Press links
Google specially ask you to do this with links to advertisers, paid links, affiliate links etc...
This Google Webmasters Link Scheme guidelines give examples of what external links to avoid and when to use the rel="nofollow" tag.
For a comprehensive guide to linkbuilding have a look at Neil Patel & Brain Deans free online book The Advanced Guide to Linkbuilding. You can read it online or download a copy for free.