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While most people understand the importance of backlinks when it comes to SEO, for some reason, a lot of people still fail to realise that internal links play an essential role as well. Internal linking, when done the right way, not only makes your site more easily crawlable, but establishes site architecture and improves your visitors’ experience, which is becoming an increasingly important search engine ranking factor. Here are some of the reasons why internal linking should be on top of your SEO priority list.
Improving User Experience without Altering SEO of Top Pages
Internal linking that puts the links customers are seeking prominently on the page where users land allows you to retain the traffic that lands on top web pages in an attempt to better funnel niche searches to their destinations. You can use this same strategy to direct people who land on pages about your best-selling model of all time to learn about your product’s latest releases, even if that’s not what they were specifically searching for.
Internal Linking to Convert Customers
There are many how-to websites that are funded by sales of repair kits specifically for the type of repair described on the web page. Internal links to the company approved repair kits on the “how to fix X error message” results in a higher customer conversion rate. Don’t forget to prominently place links to customer service when someone needs their assistance or direct them to your repair shop. Design internal linking schemes so that those who cannot fix the issue themselves are directed to the right people for assistance, and never leave it to the user to call a customer service number and run through a phone tree. Unlike other types of SEO, links to the products that solve the problem the customer is on your page seeking an answer to have higher odds of converting them into a customer without the content itself being downgraded in search results as spammy.
Making Use of Old Content
There are times where an old backlinking campaign continues to result in traffic to older content. If you remove that content, you lose that traffic. Place internal links on those pages that direct people to the places you want them to go. You now avoid a negative customer experience by clicking on a dead link, while the internal linking leads to improve “stickiness” metrics since the person landing on the older page stays on your site as they follow the links to newer content. A side benefit of people visiting a not-quite right page and following the internal links to better content is that it reduces your bounce rate, the metric by which search engines measure the quality of your content by how many leave the page quickly.
Links to Social Media
Putting links to your business’ legitimate social media pages generates traffic to those profiles and increases the odds customers will follow you. This traffic flow and resulting social media marketing signals an increase in your site’s search engine rankings. Including links to your company’s blog on its home page, and social media pages results in more traffic to these pages. The side benefit of this is how search engines give these links increased weight to your search engine’s brand.
Don’t assume that a link to your Facebook or LinkedIn profile is enough. Put RSS feed buttons and “like us to follow us on Facebook” buttons on your website to streamline the process as much as possible, since every step costs you several percentage points of the traffic. And, don’t forget to have social media sharing buttons built into content marketing pieces to encourage organic social media sharing.
Site maps make it easy for search engines to index your site, and that alone is reason to put them on your site. Making it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for also improves the user experience. The “breadcrumb” navigation enabled by these site maps allows users to search the site and find what they are looking for versus leaving the site and doing another search via a search engine, something that may take them to your competitor.
However, you should implement internal linking even if you have a site map. Internal linking helps Google find and crawl your web pages, which in turn improves the discoverability of your newest content. You can set pages to be un-crawled without removing them from your site; this should be done if the content is obsolete, and it incidentally improves the odds all of the new content is crawled because Google isn’t indexing your old content instead. Internal links take Google to the newest or most important content for indexing instead of them searching it and perhaps missing it.
Improved Rankings of Mid-Grade Content
When you link to a low authority domain from a high authority domain, search engines assign a higher degree of trust to the lower authority domain. You can get the same benefit by linking to new or lower authority subdomains from your home page. Whether you’ve set up a new customer forum site or are taking them to your new knowledge base for help, the links from your home page to these subdomains or secondary sites improve their rankings with search engines.
Maintaining a Lean and Mean Site
Search engines reward websites that load quickly and contain limited functionality. Utilising internal links that take people to calculators, maps and other pieces of content keeps each piece of content short and simple. You can improve your site’s SEO by asking related questions in the content and linking to the other content that answers those questions. The internal links embedded in the questions people are asking has the side benefit of capturing conversational SEO traffic.
Internal linking is incredibly important for SEO. Contact us if you need any help with it.
Written by Sam Jones