Internal Linking for SEO in 2017: Powering the Right Pages

Date: 13th February 2017

Author: Russell Hopkins

What you’re in for: 10 minutes or so of SEO wizardry, perfect for those who aren’t sure how to link internally within their website in 2017.

John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends analyst (translation: important) said “we do use internal links to better understand the context of content of your sites”. Internal linking is an often overlooked part of a site however – especially for new sites or site migrations (where a site goes to another domain). How should you be doing it in 2017?

What is internal linking?

Hyperlinks that point internally at another page on the same website are known as internal links. Often they’re used in the main navigation, footer and spread throughout the page. At their core the value is allowing users to navigate the site effectively. As well as this, they make it so that hierarchies can be put in place. Purely for you SEO geeks – they also push what we call “link juice” or “page power” around the site. They also help Google crawl your site, and also understand contextually what your site is about and what services it provides. A common theme with positive white hat SEO is that Google likes it when you make it easy for their crawlers and algorithms to extract context and relevance from your site.

search console menu example

Sounds simple – so what?

There’s a lot more to it! Firstly I would recommend going onto your Search Console. First get onto your relevant domain and head into the Search Traffic menu, then click on Internal Links. From here you can see a simple list of how many internal links and which pages they’re on.

Internal Linking IS a ranking factor

Simply filter by the amount of internal links on your site and you’ll likely see a number of sites linked to in your navigation bar. This is because they’re being picked up on every page. Are there pages you want to rank for that aren’t near the top? If so, they need to be changed. This is a clear indicator to search engines of both importance and relevance. This is what my site is about – these are my core services.

What’s Best Practice for Anchor Text?

There’s more to it than just linking to these pages all over your site. Any link, including an internal link needs a hyperlink. A hyperlink consists of code like:

Anchor text will be the text that makes up the link, this is the part that can be clicked on that page. SEO in 2017 best practice dictates that anchor text is not “click here” or exact-match anchors like “red apple” if you’re selling red apples. It is meant to be instead a descriptive string relevant to what’s being linked to. This communicates its topic without being spammy in Google’s eyes; it also conveys clearly where the link is going and what the page will be about. Do these anchor text best practices hold true for internal links? Not really…

How Do I Get Internal Linking Anchor Text Right?

Internally – writing anchors like this doesn’t make sense. After all, the exact match anchor “red apples” does make sense to link to your “red apples” page. In this case you should look to link with anchors that do contain keywords or are exact match. Remember to prioritise your more important pages while doing this in order to distribute your internal link juice most effectively. As an aside, an important thing to remember in general is that Google wants to provide the best user experience possible. This means that attempts to push rankings up at the expense of the user generally lead to negative results. This is core to their overall philosophy.Finally, very important pages should also be in your navigation if possible. Other pages that may be below a “product” or “service” hierarchy can be built up naturally through blog posts or other content around the site. Remember to try and improve user experience whilst doing this for the best results.

tl;dr

  • Important pages need internal links
  • Anchor text can be exact match for internal links
  • Always put the user first

 

Closing thoughts

This is an easy way to see tangible results on the pages that matter. Getting your internal linking in order is a great starting point to allow your site to climb the ranking ladder and improve the experience for users.

I hope you’ve found this post useful. If you have any other input or have any questions please let me know in the comments below.

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Russell Hopkins

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Comments (1)

  1. Sophie says:

    Great blog, really useful!

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