As the owner of a WordPress website, you want to drive qualified traffic to your content. Optimizing your website to rank on search engines such as Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo is one of the many tactics for doing so. However, simply launching a website will not rank it on search engines automatically. It takes time and work. Part of that meticulous work includes creating a solid internal linking structure for your website.
What are Internal Links?
Internal links connect pages on the same website. For instance, you’ll notice the Bluehost homepage links to other pages on our website such as our hosting products. Internal links work to build a website’s overall structure by connecting related content.
Internal links share the same root domain. You’ll notice that https://www.bluehost.com/about and https://www.bluehost.com/hosting/dedicated both begin with the same https://www.bluehost.com/ URL. Links that lead away from your website are known as external links. While those are also useful for ranking purposes, an SEO strategy should begin with internal links.
Why Should I Use Internal Links?
In addition to providing a foundation for your website, internal links help to:
- Identify the connections between website content
- Spread link value to various pages across a WordPress website
- Increase search engine rankings
- Lead a user through the site
Establishes Content Relationships
When popular search engines such as Google crawl your website, they review the site’s links—starting with the homepage. These links help Google’s both identify the flow of your website and the relationships between content. Google, in turn, uses these content connections to determine the context of your website and rank it accordingly.
Take a look around this page. What relevant internal links can you identify? Notice how they work to show relationships between specific topics and content.
Distributes Link Authority Throughout Your Website
Those who have dabbled in search engine optimization have heard the term “link juice” before. This phrase refers to the value search engines assign to links throughout a website. As you might imagine, the homepage has the most value. This authority trickles down to the site’s internal links accordingly. Therefore, content with little to no links is seen by search engines as less valuable.
Google determines how much value to assign a link by the relationships between the content. As you continue to link to other pages, posts, categories, and content, the link juice is spread throughout your website. With this in mind, content with multiple links (both internal and external) has an increased chance of ranking.
As a result, several internal linking strategies exist with the intent of distributing link authority to specific pages and content.
Improves Chances of Ranking on Search Engines
When you establish the relationships between content and distribute link authority through internal linking, you set your WordPress website up for success on search engines. While internal links are only one aspect of a search engine marketing strategy, building this structure is an important first step. Without a sturdy link foundation, Google’s bots will not understand how to index and rank your website properly.
Guides User Experience
Have you ever landed on a website and didn’t know what to click on next? This is the result of poor user experience. Internal links guide a user through your website in a logical manner. Plus, internal links help users understand the relationships between your content and pages, too.
In fact, when working on your internal link structure, always think of the user first. Although internal links do aid SEO strategies, they also provide users the ability to navigate through your website with ease. When you put the user first, your internal link flow will naturally show search engines the relationships between content. Remember, users are the ones interacting with your WordPress website, not search engines!
Internal Linking Best Practices
As you can see, internal links are imperative for any WordPress website. However, you can’t correctly implement these links without knowing the best practices. Follow these tips for a strong internal link presence on your website.
Link from Cornerstone Content
Your WordPress website will have cornerstone content. Copyblogger defines cornerstone content as “the basic, essential, and indispensable information on your website that answers common questions, solves problems, entertains, educates, or all of the above.” To distribute link authority and show Google the relationships between your content, you want to begin by linking to and from your cornerstone content appropriately.
For example, let’s say you own a home improvement store. On your website, you may have a page titled, “Power Tools Safety Information” and a blog post titled, “The Top Power Tools of 2017.” Naturally, it would make sense to link the blog post to the cornerstone content referencing safety information. This helps the smaller blog post receive link authority from the larger piece of educational content.
In turn, your cornerstone content will also rank well on search engines due to the number of links pointing back to it.
Use Logical and Relevant Links
While it may be enticing to link to every piece of content containing a similar keyword, this is not the best course of action. You must use links that make sense with the flow of content and topic.
Linking for the sake of having internal links in your content won’t help your search rankings in the long run. Instead, include internal links that will continue to educate or entertain the user.
Link with Natural Anchor Text
If you review this blog post, you’ll notice (with the exception of the URL example) the internal links are rooted in keywords or phrases. This is known as anchor text. Your anchor text must be used naturally, similar to that of your linking structure.
In days of SEO past, you could use keyword-specific anchor text for internal links and shoot to the top of the search rankings. Today, search engine algorithms take into consideration user intent and other human factors. Meaning, your internal links must be used organically throughout your content. Don’t force a keyword or phrase into a sentence only for the purpose of linking!
Don’t Go Overboard
Those with knowledge of SEO know that keyword stuffing is a frowned upon practice, as is link stuffing. There’s no need to link every time you use a keyword or topic. As mentioned before, you should only link when necessary and relevant within the content.
Stuffing your content full of internal links is seen as spammy and can even confuse a reader. There is nothing worse than a post with multiple links that lead to the same content. Be strategic with your internal link choices.
Link to Other Content, Not Just the Homepage
Since the homepage has the most authority, you will be inclined to link as much as possible to it. However, you have plenty of other content you can link to! Your homepage already has several links pointing to it. Instead, direct users to your blog posts, FAQ page, About page, video content, and other pages on your site.
While this action assists in spreading link value across your website, it also helps the user. If you direct the user back to the homepage, what good does that do them? Lead users to content that informs, engages, and guides them in the right direction.
Internal Links: Imperative for WordPress Websites
As you can see, internal links are pivotal for a WordPress website’s success. These key links help your content rank on search engines and work to guide a user through your website. Internal links are the backbone of any SEO and website strategy.
How have you implemented internal links into your website? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or explore our WordPress hosting services.