Internal links are a way of transferring authority from one page to another page of the same website, which is important for ranking. In addition, it also has other benefits that also help SEO. No wonder it is considered one of the most important SEO practices.
What is an internal link?
An internal link is a link that goes from one page to another page, within the same website. If it links to a different website, it would no longer be internal, but external.
As an example, for the ” samsung.com” website, an internal link would have to go from one page of “samsung.com” to another page of “samsung.com”.
Why are internal links important?
Internal links are important because they are part of a series of good SEO practices that we have to apply if we really want to rank more easily and better in Google.
The benefits of using internal links are:
- It helps Google. Google will better understand how your website is structured, which will help it improve the crawling of your pages so that they are added faster to the database.
- Improved user experience. Facilitating the user’s navigation makes their experience on your website more pleasant and useful. You may not know it, but user experience is a ranking factor.
- Improved traffic distribution. By moving a user from one page to another page of yours, you make the user spend more time on your website and, in addition, as the user does not leave the first time, you also manage to reduce the bounce rate.
- You transfer authority from one page to another. There are web pages that have more authority so they help to rank the pages that are difficult to rank (such as those that aim to position a keyword that have many searches and, therefore, have a lot of competition). Therefore, transferring authority from one page to another is what makes internal linking important.
Types of interlinking
Now comes the tactical part, we can’t randomly link, it has to be under a strategy. This has its name and it is called internal linking or interlinking.
The first is natural interlinking and is not recommended. This is the typical one where links are placed here and there without any control or strategy. Hence the name, because we do it in a natural way.
This type of interlinking is characterized by having no hierarchy levels. Therefore, all the pages linked are at the same level of architecture, except for the home page (start page).
The strategy for this type of interlinking consists of classifying the pages by a number of searches. From the lowest to the highest. Why? Because a higher number of searches will be more difficult to rank.
What we do is link those pages that are easy to rank to those that are difficult to rank. Never the other way around.
Let’s take an example, imagine you have several pages, like B1 with 100 searches, B2 with 300 searches, and B3 with 1000 searches.
The proper way to link it would be:
- B1 (100 searches) → B2 (300 searches) → B3 (1000 searches).
Always from less to more. Now, on the other hand, the wrong way to do it would be:
- B3 (1000 searches) → B1 (100 searches) → B2 (300 searches).
Doing it this way is wrong because you would be giving strength to a page that by itself is already easy to rank, which is not good for you.
It is also correct that B1 and B2 link to B3.
- B1 (100 searches) → B3 (1000 searches)
- B2 (300 searches) → B3 (1000 searches)
This means that you can link as much as you want, as long as you link upwards and never downwards.
The only way for you to link down is to link to a web page that suits you because it has a conversion rate from which you benefit financially. That would be a strategy.
When is it advisable to use this type of interlinking?
- Monothematic websites
- Small sites
- Websites that do not need hierarchy
In this type of linking there is a hierarchy structure, therefore, not all pages have the same level of internal authority.
Each hierarchy (category) has its own pages, those pages cannot link to each other, but must always link from the bottom to the top (the category).
Let’s take an example, imagine the home page (A), B1 (Category), and C1, C2, and C3 which are contents of category B.
The proper way to link them would be:
- C1 → B1 → A
- C2 → B2 → A
- C3 → B3 → A
And the wrong way to do it would be:
- C1 → C2 → C3 → B → A
Why? Because it never has to be done sideways, always from the bottom up. The idea is that the pages link to pages of higher hierarchy.
When is it advisable to use vertical interlinking?
- Multi-thematic websites. As, for example, a newspaper that may have a section on entertainment, sports, cooking, etc.
- Websites with a very clear hierarchy of searches. Where only one topic is discussed and, in addition, there are well-defined categories that don’t make sense to link. For example, a thematic web of birds where there can be a category for parrots and another one for pigeons. Pigeons (Rock Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, etc.). Parrots (Catey Parrot, Australian Parrot, etc.).
- An online store. Where you can easily find several hierarchies such as clothing, technology, toys, etc.
Now we have the mixed interlinking that has the benefits of the previous two. With this one, you can link vertically and also horizontally.
Here you have to respect the hierarchy levels (category), but as you can imagine, within each level there will be more content. Some of these are easy to rank and others are difficult to rank.
Within each category, you can link vertically or horizontally, however you like, so long as you don’t jump from category to category.
The normal way to link is by linking content vertically. From the easiest to rank to the most difficult to rank in the same category. Then the content that has more search links to the category (above).
Let’s take an example, imagine the home page (A). And B1 (category 1) has content C1 (with 100 searches), C2 (with 300 searches), and C3 (with 1000 searches).
The correct way to link it would be:
- C1 (100 searches) → C2 (300 searches) → C3 (1000 searches) → B1 (Category 1) → A
It is important that C3 is the only one that can link to B1. Why? Because it is the one with the most searches and, therefore, has more authority thanks to the fact that the contents of that same category helped it gain that authority.
What is the problem with this type of interlinking?
None. It has only one drawback which is that sometimes it is not necessary. It is advisable to apply things when it can bring you a benefit. If it does not, it is better not to waste effort and energy.
When it comes to linking, there are bad practices that can penalize you, be careful!
- Avoid duplicating interlinking: I am referring to when you add 2 or more identical links on a page, that is, links that go to the same specific place.
- Avoid the massive use of interlinking: Here I refer to when you place the same links, not on a single page, but on several pages. In other words, when you have 20 pages and in all of them, there is a link in the same place. This is bad because Google penalizes it, which is why using automatic tools that do this job is not advisable; in addition to being bad, you also lose control of the link count that you should have, which makes it even worse.
What good practices can we do?
- You can place as many internal links as you want on the same page, as long as they are not directed to the same specific site.
- You can change the name of the link to make it more natural, for example, “best seo practices” for “best SEO tricks”.
As you will see there are not many, only 2, so doing the right thing is easy.
Interlinking is so important that it is part of the best SEO practices because the benefits of using these links are so good that you can’t leave it aside when ranking your website in Google.
You have several types of internal links that you can use on your website, use the most convenient for you. Avoid bad practices and use the good ones.