Every website needs a link building strategy. Most people who are familiar with link building will immediately think of external links and the many link building tactics that have become the norm for acquiring backlinks. The truth is you need an internal link building strategy in order to capitalize on the many benefits it provides to your website.
What are internal links?
An internal link is the hypertext link between two pages located on the same domain. They provide contextual meaning through descriptive anchor text and lead visitors to related content.
Internal links provide link equity by passing on page authority. Like any other link, topical relevance is a big component for providing a quality internal link.
For example, the relationship between a web page about dog training that links to a page on dog tricks is obvious. They are topically relevant and therefore the traffic that travels between pages is likely to be engaged with the content on both sides of the link.
Good things happen when you have a strong internal link structure. Increase the optimization of your pages by linking pages that compliment each other with relevant topics.
Enhance your pages optimization
The link target becomes more optimized through descriptive anchor text. It’s recommended to avoid exact match anchor text in excess and to avoid using the same anchor text to the same page.
Over-optimization is a risk you can avoid by using long-tail descriptive anchor text.
The linking page also enhances its optimization by showing a direct relationship to related content. Search engines don’t rank based on keywords anymore, but based on keyword topics.
When your page demonstrates stronger depth in the keyword topic you’re covering, you gain more credibility for covering a keyword topic in breadth.
Google discovers new pages by following links
When a search engine crawls your website, they find and index new pages by following links. You can index new pages on your site much faster by providing a link to its page from existing content.
Without linking to your content, the only other way for a search engine to find the page is to have it listed in your sitemap.
When a page has no internal or external links and is not listed on the sitemap it’s considered an orphaned page since it has no way of being discovered.
For websites with a high number of pages, an internal link building becomes a necessary part of getting your pages indexed since there is a limit to the crawl budgets Google assigns to your website.
Increases user engagement statistics
As you may or may not know, the user engagement statistics your website generates are used as a way of determining whether users are enjoying your site and whether it answers the user’s intent.
Increased Dwell time
For instance, the time that the average visitor spends on your website can tell search engines whether users are engaging with your content. Google uses Rankbrain specifically for this aspect.
If your site has an average time of 5 minutes while the competing websites are at one minute, your website is going to move up in rank. It becomes obvious that users are finding your content useful and worthwhile checking out.
Improve the dwell time of your website by linking to as many related articles and pages within your content. It needs to be related to each other of course so that people can explore other related topics that will capture their attention.
Improved click-through rate
The internal click-through rate on your site is also a user engagement statistic. The average number of pages visited per session is the name of the official column you can look in to see this metric on Google Analytics. If your site demonstrates a high value in this area, it means visitors are clicking through to additional content because they’re interested in what they’re finding.
Decreased bounce rate
The bounce rate is the percentage of people that immediately back out of your page after landing on it. A higher bounce rate means that fewer people stay on your site and click through to internal pages. The lower your bounce rate the more visitors are staying on your page and engaging with your content.
Although high bounce rates can indicate that visitors are either not liking your content, they can also result from a lack of internal links that leave a user with no way to move further into your website. By adding internal links you provide another path to access more pages within your website. The addition of internal links therefore reduces the bounce rate.
Internal links can generate more conversions
A lot of good things happen when you’ve implemented an effective internal link building strategy properly. The increased click-through rate and increased dwell time contribute to getting more content in front of your visitors. This leads to more confidence in your brand and ultimately more conversions.
The links you place in your content should lead visitors towards a conversion goal you’ve set for your website. Set up your goals in analytics to track how well your website is accomplishing this task.
Whether your goal is to get a phone call, contact form, sign up for a newsletter or purchase your product, you can set it up in Analytics.
Use internal links to lead visitors to high converting pages and contact forms throughout your content.
Internal links build authority in a keyword topic
Use your internal links to create topic clusters. A topic cluster is composed of a pillar page, which is the main keyword topic. The pillar page will cover a keyword topic in breadth but not depth. Rather than go into detail it will link to smaller articles that have a narrow focus on a smaller subtopic but dive into greater detail.
The smaller articles should link to each other where it’s appropriate, and all of them will link to the pillar page. The pillar page links to the smaller articles, which creates the topic cluster model.
Technically, the pillar page accumulates authority because of the number of links pointing to it from the cluster content. This establishes the keyword topic as a pillar of your website which helps your website show up for more keyword related searches.
Use internal links to increase the user experience
At the root of all ranking factors lies user experience. Implement an internal link building strategy to create more entry points to your pages and allow users to explore more related topics that interest them.
Link to topically relevant pages to create topic clusters while improving the user experience. The additional effort you provide in establishing our website in your major keyword topic will pay off in dividends.
User engagement is a powerful ally to have in your corner, so keep your users happy by offering links to more content they’ll love and you’re guaranteed to enjoy more success in the search results.