internal linking

How Internal Linking Practices Help Boost SEO Results?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO as we know it, is a game of snake and ladder. Each ladder is an SEO tactic like internal linking. Each snake is an SEO mistake, like a missing meta tag.

There are many ladders, some big, others small. The big ones allow you to make higher leaps. These are the core SEO techniques.

Other ladders result in a smaller jump. These are SEO techniques that result in minor improvements.

Then there are snakes. Some are big. These are critical mistakes that can make you lose all your progress in one move. The others are small snakes.

But, there is one snake. The real big one who is hissing at 99, just ready to hunt its next prey and throw it all the way down to start. That is very painful, isn’t it?

Just when you think you have got everything sorted, and you will breeze towards victory, the snake bites you, and all your progress is lost… just like that.

For me, that snake – the real big one – in the snake and ladder game of SEO is ‘internal link building.’

Why is internal link building the snake at No. 99?

If I ask you to list vital SEO strategies, at what number would you feature your website’s internal linking?

Between internal and external linking, internal linking is treated as a stepchild, while external linking gets all the love and a larger chunk of money.

What are internal links?

Internal links are the road network that operates inside your website. They connect your web pages. For example, service pages to the blog, contact us page to the home page, etc.

Like an external link is a way of making Google bot jump from another site to yours, internal links help Google understand your site better and index your content effectively.

Why are Internal Links Important for SEO?

Gives you control

This is my favorite thing about internal links. It gives me control to tell Google what pages I think are important and should be crawled first.

For example, on Growth Proton, we have linked all the service pages from our homepage. This is for two reasons:

  • For users to easily navigate to these pages
  • To make Google crawl these pages first after landing on the website
Gives you control

This is our way of telling Google ‘these pages are important; look at them first’. It helps you get Google to crawl important pages first.

See, Google bot comes to your website with a budget. This budget is the crawl budget. How many pages Google bot will crawl in one attempt depends on this budget. (more on this is mentioned in the latter part of the blog)

Internal linking saves the crawl budget that Google has for a website.

Sometimes the website has many URLs, those pages lying deep into the website go undiscovered by Google bots.

These pages might include your service or money pages. Losing all your crawl budget before bots can reach those pages can dent your ranking on the SERPS.

Makes navigation easy

Google bot discovers new webpage by jumping the links that connect them. For example, you have done robust link building, and Google bots have landed on your website.

Now what? Where do they go?

They will trace the internal links of your website. Your internal links not only help them find pages on your website but also understand the content. Here is how:

This is a blog we have written about SEO hacks that people do not commonly use.   

In this blog, we have hyperlinked another blog of ours about website migration, like this:

Blog section

In this blog, we have hyperlinked another blog of ours about website migration, like this:

migration issues

Now anyone can tell – and certainly do Google – what the linked blog is about.

Note that we used the exact anchor text as the title of the blog. It is considered an ideal SEO practice, also recommended by Google, to use anchor text that resembles the linked page title.

However, an anchor text should have some attributes to make it SEO-friendly.

  1. It should be brief. You don’t have to use entire lines as anchor text. Keep it short; one to six words are enough.
  2. It should be relevant. Using anchor text relevant to the linked page gives users and search engines an idea about the content. It is considered an SEO-friendly practice.
  3. Don’t repeat. Using the same anchor text on different pages might raise suspicion within the search engine. If too many internal links are on the same anchor text, Google will consider it an attempt to artificially prop up the page’s ranking. So, if you have to link a blog from two different pages, make sure to use separate anchor text. For example, if I have to link the same blog again, I will use a different anchor text like ‘how to migrate your website smoothly.’

Prop up the hidden pages

Google bots come to your site and begin to look for the XML site map.

Now, if you are a small website, you are sorted. The bots will crawl all the pages and leave.

But, if your website has hundreds of pages, then crawling becomes a challenge. These bots come with a budget, and they can’t overshoot it.

So, say they have a budget to crawl 50 links in one attempt. At the 50th link, their crawl budget is done. But you have a link to a page about an upcoming mega sale on No. 51 in the sitemap (hypothetical scenario).

If it is not crawled, it won’t be indexed and won’t appear in the SERP. There your chances of the money pouring upon you next month go down the drain.

Now you can’t call Google back and implore it to crawl just one more page. So, what you can do is to link your deep-lying pages to prominent places like in the homepage’s header or the recently published blogs.

While placing the links, it is important to know where you should put them. According to Backlinko, putting links in the header increases the dwell time and reduces the bounce rate.

Having a low bounce rate and high dwell time makes a website rank due to logistical issues.

Play smart

I just love the website of ‘Sprout Social.’  

sprout social

No matter which page you are on or what blog you are reading, you can never only read just one blog and leave that website.

They have linked all their pages in such a way that the relevant ones appear side-by-side. You can’t help but jump on those pages to read more.

I never left this website after reading only one blog. The thing that makes Sprout Social unique is its clever use of topical link building.

In the right column on the page, they show relevant blogs – for further reading. And you would be surprised how perfect those recommendations are. You might feel like they have done this to help you, but actually, they have just smartly linked these pages to increase your engagement on their website.

The users’ understanding

SEO is a set of techniques to optimize a website for search engines. Internal linking is also part of SEO, but it helps both users and search engines to understand data.

With every hyperlinked webpage, the user sees the anchor text and decides whether the linked content is relevant to their search or not.

Outsmarting them all

To improve the internal link structure of your website, you do not have to hyperlink each page with an anchor text. There are different ways to put them:

  1. Related Posts: If someone is reading a blog on a topic, show them the relevant article about that issue that they must immediately see.
  2. Read more: Another technique is to make people read more by linking them with other blogs on your website. 
  3. Adding a button: Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons are a big conversion source and lead to high Click-through-rate (CTR). You can use them to link pages of your website. For example, a ‘Call Us Now’ CTA can link your ‘Contact Us’ page to the homepage.

But, with these types of buttons, it is important to follow a user-focused approach so that your internal linking doesn’t appear out of sorts.

You can’t write a page about apples and then send the users on a page which tells how to make lemonade.

So, these buttons should appear natural to the audience.

Where to stop

So, how many internal links are enough internal links?

No one knows. Google only says a webpage should have “adequate” internal links.

Some SEO pros think that this magical number is 30 and that no page should have more than thirty internal links. Maybe you can stretch it a bit. But, doing too much here might cram your web pages.

Final word

Internal link building increases your page’s authority and also makes it easier for both users and search engines to understand your content,

However, this is often neglected among other tasks of SEO. Internal linking doesn’t require much effort, nor one has to create separate content for it.

However, there are few things to be mindful of, like anchor text, the quality of internal links, and their placements.

Once you get these right, this will help boost your SEO results.

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