Internal links are links primarily within the content area (body) of each page that link to other, oftentimes deeper, pages within the same site. Usually, Internal Links can weave into the web page copy in a logical manner that points the visitor to further or deeper information that would logically flow from the page they are already viewing.
Since most Search Engines including Google follow links to other pages, internal linking is a great way to provide users with logical next steps for accessing information from your site and to expose as many of your webpages to the search robots as possible.
Ok, so now you say “internal links provide good additional ways for users to access information they might like but…”: Can you drive good web ranking or page rank from Internal Linking? What kind of juice is there with internal links?
By no means does Internal Linking ensure that your website will be well ranked. What internal linking can assist with is guiding the search robots once they have visited your site. Once landing upon an individual page, the search robots will follow other links in the content area. So if your more popular, or better positioned web pages had internal links to deeper pages within your site or pages that get less attention from visitors, you are providing opportunities for these pages through Internal Linking.
Ok, now for some examples of our bad, good, better, best ranking system.
Linking to dozens of other internal pages from each page on your site with little thought or logical flow to the other pages. You already have (hopefully) a well thought out navigation structure and a site map built into your site so we don’t recommend taking Internal Linking to this extreme. For example, on a mortgage company site, having internal links to every loan program offered (there are dozens of combinations) on every page would probably not pass the smell test with the search robots and it will drive the user insane. Why would a website visitor think that there was any difference in a applying for a mortgage in South Burlington, VT versus Burlington, VT? Having 2 separate links to these pages is purely for search engine purposes and could “turn off” a website visitor.
Essentially, you can’t stuff internal links just to try and get a boost from the search engines. It lowers your integrity with website visitors and with the search engines.
Providing a link or two within the site content where appropriate. if you reference a program or a webpage that is on your site, go ahead and set up a link to that page.
Not only would you provide the link when mention content or pages that might be of further use to the visitor, you optimize the “anchor text” within each internal link to provide keyword juice to those pages.
Instead of “In order to check out our section on jumbo mortgages, click here: http://www.mortgagecompany.com/loan-programs/jumbo-mortgages”, you would write the internal links smoothly within the flow of the sentence: “And from our South Burlington, VT office, you can learn more about our jumbo mortgage programs.” The optimized “anchor text” for this link scores points for the jumbo mortgage page and still provides a clear path of action for the website visitor.
To get the most from Internal Linking, work with your website content to make sure that you are able to add at least 3 internal links on every page and use optimized “anchor text” to point the way! (of course, by using keywords from your master keyword list). One part strategy and one part execution will combine to give you, your website visitors, and the search robots an optimized internal linking strategy that works.