Guide to Google Ranking Factors – Part 8: Internal Links
Last week we released the seventh installment of our comprehensive guide to Google ranking factors.
He focused on site-level signals, such as HTTPS, speed, mobile-friendliness, and structured markup.
This week, we’re looking at internal linking (before we get to the much heavier topics of outbound links and backlinks).
What is an internal link? Well, if you click on this link, you have just discovered one for yourself.
There are many benefits to practicing internal linking, which can help your site improve its metrics and user experience.
1) Internal links can help navigate your site in a more targeted way.
2) Internal links can keep people on your site, especially if the links are relevant to that particular web page.
3) They give your audience more reading options, and if they continue to click through to your site without leaving, it can help lower your bounce rate (the percentage of people who left a given page on your website without leaving. see other pages.)
4) Internal links help Google crawl and index your site. Googlebots that are sent to retrieve new information from your site will have a better idea of the usefulness and reliability of your content the more they crawl your internal links.
5) Search engines will see that some of your web pages have more internal links pointing to them than others, and therefore deem them more important.
6) The higher the authority of a page on your website, the more valuable its internal linking becomes.
seven) According to Starcom’s Jason McGovern, internal linking is one of the few methods we can use to tell Google (and visitors) that a particular page of content is important.
From a strategic perspective, it helps webmasters bridge the “authority gap” between their most link-worthy content and their most profitable content.
For example, you can use a link from an evergreen post with lots of search visibility and traffic to promote something relevant that your business needs to publicize.
8) Broken links send the wrong trust signal to Google, as they make your site look incompetent or irrelevant at best, poorly maintained or abandoned at worst.
9) Using clear anchor text (the clickable highlighted words in any given link) helps improve your rankings for certain keywords. If we want this article to rank for the term “internal linking guide”, we can start linking to it from other articles using variations of similar anchor text.
This tells Google that this post is relevant to people searching for “internal linking guides”.
ten) Some SEOs recommend varying the anchor text pointing to a particular page because Google may consider multiple identical uses as “suspicious.”
11) You may find that linking to a single hub page will help your site avoid cannibalizing itself for search positions.
A hub page is a thematic page around a certain topic or keyword. It could be a tags page or maybe a category, like our SEO page.
This page is constantly being updated with new content, and is therefore always considered “fresh” and valuable by Google.
To use a good example from Graham Charlton: news articles are usually brief and move up and down the search rankings. However, linking them to a hub page signals to Google that this is the page that should rank for a particular keyword or term.
For more chapters in our series on Google Ranking Factors, check out:
Part 10: backlinks
Part 9: outbound links
Part 7: site-level signals
Part 6: signals of trust, authority and expertise.
Part 5: duplicate content and syndication.
Part 4: content freshness.
Part 3: quality content.
Part 2: keyword relevance, frequency and latent semantic indexing (LSI).
Part 1: on-page signals such as title tags, H1 tags, and meta descriptions.