Internal links are links that point from one page of a site to another page on the same website. Because they’ve never carried as much SEO weight as their cousin, the backlink, people often dismiss their power. But make no mistake, internal links are an important part of every website strategy. Google deems pages that have a lot of links pointed at them as valuable. And although a link pointed at your site from an external site carries more weight in the search algorithm, Google takes all links into consideration.
Read on to find out the purpose of adding internal links to your content, as well as the best practices you should follow when adding them.
the purpose of internal links
Adding relevant links into your blog posts is good for your users.
When you strategically place related internal links into your posts, there’s a higher chance you reader will view another page. This will increase your engagement metrics (pages per session, session duration, time on site, bounce rate), which are positive signals in Google’s search algorithm.
Adding internal links connects your content, revealing to Google how your site is structured.
Google uses internal links to understand the hierarchy of your content and the relationship pages have with each other.
Links are how Google crawls content. Internal links help decrease the potential of orphaned pages.
6 best practices for internal linking
1. Link styling
This goes for outbound links on your website as well, but links should stand out from the surrounding text. The format that we’ve seen work best is to underline them. If you choose to change the color of the hyperlink, make sure to check how it looks on both mobile as well as desktop. After a migration on SheKnows.com last year, the link styling was made to be a different shade of grey than the text, but not much different. Users could barely see the links. We then updated the color to a purple shade, but on mobile the purple didn’t stand out as much next to the grey as we should it would.
“Eventually we moved to underlining the hyperlink. Since this was changed, we’ve seen a 10% increase in pages per session and a 13% increase in session duration.”
There isn’t a set number for how many internal links should be added to each of your blog posts, but we like to recommend a minimum of 2-3, more depending on the length of the post. You don’t want to overdo it, this can appear spammy. With internal links, it’s ok to open the link in the same browser your in, but for outbound links, always make sure they open in a new browser. You don’t want to be taking your user fully off your site.
There are several options of where to place internal links on your blog posts. Three options to place related links are at the very bottom of the post, spread throughout the post (in between the paragraphs) and thirdly, to add contextual links within the copy of the page. Here are examples of each:
Related posts at the bottom of the page on HollywoodLife.com
Internal links added as contextual links within the paragraphs on StyleCaster.com
Related links located in between paragraphs on US Magazine
4. Anchor Text
Anchor text is the text users see that’s attached to the hyperlink. The anchor text is typically best as a phrase and not a full sentence. The anchor text should be relevant to the page the links lands on. For example, canonical tag best practices links over to a page about just that. The anchor text should sound natural, not over-optimized. It’s fine to use key phrases as the anchor text, you should when you can, but it’s unnecessary to use the same anchor text across many links in hopes of increasing your ranking for that term.
5. Page Selection
The number one best practice for selecting what content to link to is that it needs to be related to the content it’s linked from. Make sense? Using this SheKnows piece as an example, on Pie-Making Tips, you’ll see that all the internal links within the body of the post are related to dessert recipes or baking in some way. It would be out of place for the writer to have included a link to a piece on skin care advice or how to file your taxes. It’s better for both the user and for Google for the internal links to be relevant to one another.
6. Nofollow or Follow?
Internal links should be follow, there’s no reason to prevent Google from seeing the link and assessing its value. When it comes to external links, many large publishers nofollow every one. While it is the safer method to avoid someone sneaking in links or links to low quality sites, it also prevents the positive signals when the links are legit and valuable. PMC (our parent company!) websites all follow the procedure of nofollowing all outbound links. When it comes to sponsored posts, all outbound links must be nofollow, no question on that one.
In September, Google announced that they will now be using nofollow tags as more of a suggestion, than a hard rule and will ultimately decide the value of the link themselves. They’re also introducing rel=”ugc” tags for links within user generated content and rel=”sponsored” tags for links within sponsored content.