Internal linking is a simple step in the digital content publishing process that can help boost your audience engagement levels, expand your overall reach, and bolster your blog or website’s SEO scores.
So, what is an internal link? And when, how, and why should you add them to your digital content? Glad you asked.
What is an Internal Link? Internal links, sometimes referred to as “inbound links” or “one-way links,” are links that are added to a piece of digital content via anchor text. In simple terms, they are direct links from your web page to another specific page or resource on a different part of your site.
Google and other top search engines use internal links as a way to gauge (and score) the relevance, quality, and authority of a web page. As a result, pages or content pieces that include more relevant internal links tend to earn higher search rankings and, consequently, win more organic traffic.
As an example, here’s an internal link for a page on our CID website that has more information about our digital marketing services. Go ahead and give it a click. We’ll wait for you here.
Why is Internal Linking Beneficial? Even though internal linking isn’t an overly involved process, the benefits it has to offer are nothing to scoff at. Internal linking is a major contributor to your website’s authority ranking in search (especially for Google) and in other popular SEO tools like SEMRush as well.
When used properly, internal links can help you do things like:
Increase visitor session duration
Utilize anchor text to increase your keyword rankings
Improve your authority ranking in search and other SEO
In addition to making your keywords more effective and increasing the amount of time visitors spend viewing your digital content, internal links are also a great way to direct those visitors to additional content on your website — ideally, additional content that is informative, relevant, and helpful.
How NOT to Link With most digital content best practices, moderation is key. And internal linking is no exception to that golden rule. Generally speaking, we wouldn’t recommend jam-packing your blogs, case studies, and other digital content pieces with links. While having a handful of relevant internal links can improve your SEO and search rankings, linking to less relevant content or using too many links can have the opposite effect.
As a general rule of thumb, make sure that you stick to no more than a handful of internal links per content piece (2-3 is usually the sweet spot for your average blog post). Most importantly, make sure the links you choose to incorporate are relevant, helpful, and are directing your readers to other trustworthy resources that offer them quality information.
The placement of your internal links is just as important as the information they provide. For most content types, we’d recommend avoiding the “bulleted list” approach, where a handful of links are tossed in at the bottom of a blog or web page glossary-style. While this presentation may seem efficient, and while it won’t necessarily hurt your content rankings, it certainly isn’t the most effective way to improve them either.
The bulleted format often comes across as random or inconvenient to readers as well. Lists leave them with little-to-no context to go off of, meaning they’re more likely to just skip over the content you’ve referenced there no matter how relevant it may be. When in doubt, using strategically placed anchor text throughout your content piece is almost always the right way to go.
Building an Internal Linking Strategy Creating an internal link strategy for your web content doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. By adhering to the quality standards we called out above (relevant, helpful, trustworthy), you’ll already be well on your way to utilizing internal links like a digital pro.
The most important part of developing your internal linking strategy will be to ensure that it is a seamless process for your content teams that results in a seamless online experience for your audiences. We recommend planning out which blogs or content pieces you’ll want to link ahead of time so that you can check for quality and relevance before incorporating them into your content.
Once you have your quality-assured internal links ready to go, all that’s left to do is to add them to your content and let them work their strategic optimization magic!
Jade is a digital deep diver on our marketing & strategy team. She loves investigating possible issues and brainstorming solutions. When she isn't deep in spreadsheets, she's drinking far too much caffeine or having off-screen dance parties to her favorite Tik Toks.