When creating content for your website, there are a number of best practices and foundational strategies that can set you up for long-term success. Solid internal linking is part of the groundwork that allows your content to rank better and stay organized in the eyes of search engines.
An internal linking strategy is separate from the broader site architecture. It’s a day-to-day SEO tactic that should be controlled by your content writers and editors, rather than the tech/development team. Here’s what you need to know about internal linking to set you and your website on the road to internal linking success:
Why Is a Good Internal Linking Strategy Important?
It provides further reading options for the site visitor.
For example, if there’s a pending blog post about snorkeling in the Maldives, and the site had published something about snorkeling a few months earlier, they should link to it in the new material! Doing so provides context for the new entry and promotes previous, relevant content.
It helps improve page ranking for specific keywords.
For example, if you want a page on your website to rank for “5-star hotel restaurants,” then as long as the page contains the correct keywords, you can direct your site visitors to that spot using internal linking. Not only does it help improve user experience, but it also communicates to search engines the page is relevant to users typing in that phrase.
It can help promote events.
If you’re writing a piece about an upcoming event for your business, placing a link to the event category page ties your calendar of events together.
It helps search engines crawl your site.
Internal links in content pages, as well as in category and tag pages, help search engines index your website, which ensures your content ranks higher in user searches for related keywords.
The Value of Category Pages
Combining category pages with a well-executed internal linking approach can be an extremely effective SEO strategy. It helps ensure that content ranks consistently for keywords relevant to the topics that you regularly cover. Most sites produce content around the same topics on a regular basis, but as more material is created over time, they don’t want to have to compete with their own information for search positions.
If search engines see a lot of pages from the same website for specific search terms, they won’t know which one should be ranked the highest. Every new piece of content about keyword-specific topics on your website is cannibalizing the search ranking of your other pages on that subject—the category page in particular.
Creating category pages is a way to organize your content and act as a hub for linking internally. Multiple links to these category pages send search engines a signal telling them which page to rank for the search term in question. Every article should serve to boost or sustain the rankings of the category page for that particular topic. Doing so helps direct traffic to that category page over time, allowing it to rank more consistently and make the most of search activity.
Category pages supported by internal links also allow older articles to live on. As an article ages, its page ranking continues to drop until the original piece is surpassed by new material. Linking to a category page containing past articles keeps older content from becoming buried.
Tips for Using Internal Linking Effectively
- Identify top-ranked pages and link to them on new or existing (related) content to boost traffic.
- Things like position of the link on a page, its font, color, anchor text, context and relevancy to the content it’s featured in and what the article, landing page or blog post is linking to all influence clicks. The more clicks, the more link juice. Helpful tip: To increase the ranking of the internal link, include it in the first paragraph of the content.
- On the homepage, add links to the most important category pages so visitors can easily access them.
- Add internal links in moderation. Every link included on a page will receive a portion of the link authority of that page, so the more links included in the content itself, the less value each will receive. Do not go link crazy! Observe the 1/250 ratio.
- Internal links should appear natural and within the correct context of the article. You don’t want links to appear out of place or forced on the reader.
- Make sure links enhance the content and the visitors’ site experience. SEO is a factor of course, but links should also provide added value to the reader.
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Make sure your website has category pages that make sense for your content and the relative links connecting it all. Content should not live in isolation, and each article shouldn’t have to work so hard. A well-executed internal linking strategy helps your content pieces support each other and the website as a whole by improving SEO and the user experience.