Internal Linking for SEO

Internal Linking for SEO

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Your internal linking strategy is an important consideration for any SEO campaign and can often be overlooked or undervalued as a basic concept, which is a shame because it’s relatively simple to implement and maintain.

This article will explain everything your need to know about internal linking for SEO, from what it really is to why it’s important and how to implement.


So, what really is internal linking?

Internal linking is pretty much as simple as it sounds; providing sufficient links from your web pages to other pages within your website.

Now, we understand that describing the amount of links as “sufficient” is subjective (and annoying) but, truth be told, there is no magic number of how many internal links you should have per page; it depends on the size of your website and how much content you have to offer.

However, there are some best practices you should follow to ensure you’re up to basic standards. More on that later.

But why is internal linking important for SEO?

Good question. Internal linking is important for SEO as it makes it easier for Search Engines to discover and crawl your website’s pages and index them in the Search Engine Results Page.

“Why is this?”, you might ask.

Well, Search Engines work by sending artificial intelligence-driven pieces of script (or “spiders”) through the internet that discover websites and attempt to read and understand as many pages as possible before moving on.

To make their job easier, you can provide internal links from your web pages to other web pages that the spider can follow – rather than trying to find them manually.

You might have heard cool SEO people talking about Google’s crawl budget? Well, what this means is that you have a limited window of time in which a Search Engine “spider” will stay on your site before taking its ball and going home. Internal linking ensures you make the most of this budget as the less internal links you have, the more limited the spiders’ crawl will be and the sooner it’ll move on.

Why are they called spiders? Well, I guess it fit in to Google’s story of their scripts “crawling” the internet. Could have been “dogs” that “fetched” pages but whatever.

How can I optimise my internal linking?

There’s a few very simple ways to optimise your internal linking strategy to improve the effectiveness of your site-wide search engine crawling. Please see some examples below:

Ensuring your site navigation has core landing pages within it

If you’re not linking to your core landing pages from your main site navigation, there’s something seriously wrong – not just from an SEO perspective, but from a user experience perspective. Imagine going to Ikea with all the signs taken out? How would you ever escape?!

Anyway – linking from your main site navigation to core landing pages is one of the easiest ways to improve your site-wide search engine crawling. This is because your main site navigation is existent on every single page of your website and therefore the search engine spiders are constantly following its links. If you’re worried about your navigation looking crowded after adding more pages to it, utilise drop-down menus. It’s dead simple.

However, it is surprising how often we see websites that opt to have a non-comprehensive navigation that’s disproportionate to the size of their website. Sometimes because it’s simply overlooked or for aesthetic circumstances. Either way, there’s always a solution – get those landing pages in there!

Get some links in the footer!

Now very much on the flip side of the spectrum (get it? because the site navigation is at the top and the footer is at the bottom?) you should always try to include links to various landing pages in the footer of your website.

This is for a very similar reason to including links in your main site navigation – it’s on every page of your website and will get followed by spiders a lot!

However, due to the fact that it’s at the bottom of every page it makes sense to include any links you didn’t deem suitable for your main site navigation as it’ll get crawled less. But it’s important to remember, it will still get crawled. Typical examples include Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policies, however it’s not uncommon to see secondary product pages in there too.

HTML Sitemap

That’s right – a good old HTML sitemap! Not be confused with the XML sitemap, of course…

  • XML Sitemap – a file with a .xml extension that helps search engines prioritise the order in which it should crawl your website’s pages
  • HTML Sitemap – a page on your website that breaks down a contextualised list of links across your site.

So, what benefits does a HTML sitemap bring to the site exactly? Well, it provides a banquet of links for search engine spiders to follow and crawl in a contextualised format – making it incredibly easy for search engines to discover every page across your site.

Some people see this as old school, but we think it’s an old faithful that still makes a noticeable difference to the efficiency of site-wide search engine crawling.

As well as this, it’s super easy to implement. You can either pull together this simple page yourself or, if you use WordPress’ CMS you can install a plugin to do it for you!

(Just please make sure to drop a link to the HTML sitemap in your footer)

Find linking opportunities

Now, this is the more time consuming method – especially if you have a large website. However, you’ll reap the benefits later. This is the method of going through your website’s content and finding opportunities to turn existing copy in to anchor text which can link to a relevant internal page.

For example, below is a bit of copy taken from our International SEO product page (see what I did there?).

“As an agency that specialises in SEO, we ensure we cover the 3 core areas of Search Engine Optimisation. This includes Traditional SEO, Local SEO and, of course, International SEO.”

There’s already two really easy opportunities for internal linking here, as I’m already talking about our other product offerings: Traditional SEO and Local SEO. So, I simply hyperlink that anchor text to the relevant landing page and Bob’s your Uncle.

“As an agency that specialises in SEO, we ensure we cover the 3 core areas of Search Engine Optimisation. This includes Traditional SEO, Local SEO and, of course, International SEO.”

I didn’t link the “International SEO” copy because the user is already on that page and it’d be pointless and come across spammy if I were to link to the same page.

Make it a habit every week to work through a batch of pages and within no time your website will be in good shape and you can maintain this for any new pages moving forward!

To conclude

You should absolutely consider your internal linking strategy for SEO as it’s simple, easy to roll out and incredibly effective at improving your site-wide crawling efficiency and indexing when carried out properly.

I hope that’s settled all of your questions about internal linking for SEO, please feel free to leave a comment if you feel I’ve missed anything or if you’d like to take advantage of Mac & Hat’s free SEO audits, get in touch here.


Dan is the Founder & Director of Mac & Hat. He enjoys all things SEO, writing and being fun at parties.

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