Backlinks and external links typically take center stage whenever an SEO talks about linking strategies. However, external links are not the only type of links that you should pay attention to. Internal links are arguably just as important.
A good internal linking strategy directs visitors of your website to the pages and posts you value most. They are an integral part of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
But, that begs the question: What are internal links and why are they important? Let’s get into it.
First Up: What are Internal Links?
Internal links are links that point from one page or post on a website to another page or post on the same website. Generally, internal links direct your website visitors to other places on your website that relate back to the page they landed on. Simple enough, yes? Well, that’s just the tip of the proverbial internal linking iceberg.
Next: Why Are Internal Links Important?
Why are internal links important, you ask? Like we mentioned before, internal links direct your site visitors to the pages and posts you want them to see most. But, that’s just the beginning. Google (and other search engines) use internal links to help discover new content posted to your website.
For example, let’s pretend that you just published a new blog post on your plumbing site but forgot to link to it from somewhere else on your website. When Google crawls your site again, it won’t be able to find your new, well-written and exciting blog post. Almost like it never existed in the first place! Here what Google says about it:
“Google must constantly search for new pages and add them to its list of known pages. Some pages are known because Google has already crawled them before. Other pages are discovered when Google follows a link from a known page to a new page.”
What that means is that for Google to know that it should index your page, it has to find it first. If it doesn’t know it exists, then it can’t very well list it in search results for related queries. In fact, pages that don’t have any internal links pointed to them are called “orphan pages.”
In addition to aiding with indexing your new content, internal links also contribute to the flow of PageRank (also thought of as link authority) throughout your domain. This is important. The more internal links a page has (within reason), the higher the PageRank assigned to it by Google. But be careful! You can easily overstuff a page with internal links that don’t aid users in their quest to find your most informative and query-centric content. Generally speaking, quality is just as important as quantity here. And, this leads us to our next point:
How to Develop a Winning Internal Linking Strategy for Search Engine Performance
Before we get to deep into developing internal linking strategies that work, keep this in mind: Relevance is key. The more relevant and logical your linking strategy, the more likely Google will rank your pages for search. OK, now that we got that out of the way, let’s get into developing your internal link strategy and structure.
Step 1 – Establishing a Content Hierarchy
Think about the pages on your website like a pyramid. Place your most important pages at the top of the pyramid and your least important pages at the bottom. This is the general idea behind the majority of successful internal linking strategies and structures. Usually, the top of a website’s pyramid is the homepage. Under the homepage will be your second most important pages (like a contact page, an about page, services page, etc.). Below those pages will be the rest of your content (blog posts, service-specific pages, etc.).
Step 2 – Start Siloing
Once you’ve established a general pyramid-shaped hierarchy for your website, it’s time to talk about how to link it all together. Lots of website owners make the mistake of linking all pages from one level of the pyramid to all the pages on the next level up. While this may be mildly effective for some smaller websites, its generally considered bad strategy. Remember, relevance is key. When you link pages from one level of the hierarchy to the next one up, you need to keep relevance in mind. For example, it won’t do you any good to link a new page about replacing toilets to your about us page. A good way to go about doing this is with a technique called “siloing.”
“Siloing” is the art of grouping relevant web pages together using internal links. The best way to explain how to do this is with an example. Let’s break it down.
Let’s assume you have a plumbing page on your website that covers the general plumbing services that your company offers. Let’s also assume that you have several more plumbing service pages that go over specific plumbing services in greater detail. Using siloing, an ideal link structure would look something like this:
In the graphic, “Plumbing Services” is the top of the content pyramid. Below it is three sub-categories of the “Plumbing Services” page. Each of the sub-categories is called a silo. As you can see, each silo is topic-centric. To make things easier to digest, let’s look at the “Drain Cleaning” silo in a little more detail.
The drain cleaning silo contains sub-pages for hydro jetting and rooter services. Both the hydro-jetting and rooter services pages should link back to the main drain cleaning page. Then, in turn, the drain cleaning page should link back to the “Plumbing Services” page. That’s the basic idea behind content siloing.
Internal links are important for SEO and the overall user experience of your website. They help you point users towards the content you want them to see, and they help Google and other search engines discover new pieces of content that you publish on your site. Internal links also help distribute your PageRank authority correctly across your website. They really are that important.
Now, here at Contractor Advertising, we understand that all this technical jargon about internal links may be more than you bargained for. But, don’t fret! If you don’t have the time, desire, or ability to handle optimizing your website’s internal linking strategy and structure, then just give us a call. Our team of SEO professionals is always standing by to help you with all your internal linking woes! Contact us today and happy linking!