Internal linking strategies: how to maximise on the SEO and UX benefits

a chain of links, representing the internal links on a website
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Last updated: November 2023

Enhancing SEO and User Experience through Effective Internal Linking

When it comes to SEO, there’s a delicate balance to be struck between appeasing the search engine algorithms and enhancing the user experience (UX). A well-optimised site employs a number of strategies to do both concurrently – and chief amongst them is making the most of internal linking.

When used intelligently, internal linking can be a powerful tool that will elevate both your search engine ranking and the overall UX on your website. In this article, we take you through the nuances of internal linking, how you can naturally weave internal links into your website content, and how you can use it to your advantage.

The Power of Internal Links

Internal linking is the process of connecting different pages within your website through hyperlinks. These internal links guide users from one page to another, often to provide additional information or to connect related pieces of content.

The process is simple enough to understand, but where things get really interesting is from an SEO perspective. Internal links contribute hugely to a search engine’s understanding of how your individual pieces of content relate to each other and where they fit within your website’s overall hierarchy, and the anchor text (or visible elements of the links) gives additional signals on what the content of that page might be about.

Link equity (the theoretical SEO value or ‘weight’ of a link) is distributed across pages, and this can enhance the ranking of pages on your website when used correctly.

The SEO Impact of Internal Linking

Let’s look a little deeper at the SEO benefits of internal linking. As mentioned, a good internal linking structure will help search bots navigate and index your website, find new pages, and understand how they sit within your site’s hierarchy.

With this in mind, you should use internal links to help organise your content logically, connect related topics, and create a seamless journey that paints a bigger picture of what you’re trying to convey. This cross-linking between deeper-level pages within your site can aid in faster indexing and deliver improved search visibility as a result.

Strategic internal linking also allows you to target keywords to relevant pages by incorporating the keywords into your anchor text. This signals to search engines the subject matter of the linked page and provides a rankings boost for search queries related to that phrase.

Be mindful, however, when thinking about anchor text. You’ll want links to appear natural, not forced into your content, and excessive use of exact match anchor texts may be penalised by search engine algorithms.

Ultimately, internal links help distribute contextual authority and relevance from one page to another. When a page with high authority links to another page, it passes along a portion of its SEO credibility and boosts the linked page’s ranking potential. This can help raise the visibility of pages that may not have acquired sufficient external backlinks and flow the authority and SEO value of external links throughout your site, making internal linking a necessary part of your SEO strategy.

By providing your users with pathways to create journeys through your site, you are increasing the likelihood of them spending longer on your domain and engaging in a more meaningful way, and this is a positive signal for search engine algorithms. Helpful and relevant links to valuable content are only going to work in your favour.

Internal Linking and the User Experience

Internal linking, when executed thoughtfully, contributes significantly to a positive user experience. It acts as a roadmap to guide users on a more thoughtful journey through your website, and helps them find related content that aligns with their needs and interests.

Users are more likely to discover related articles, guides, or products beyond the initial page that brought them to your website – and the more pages they visit, the better for you and your SEO.

It isn’t just about getting users to cycle through as many pages as possible, however. Whilst you want to simplify navigation and make it easy for users to jump from page to page, you also want them to remain on your pages and take in all that your content has to offer by resonating with their needs.

This means linking to content that is relevant, valuable, and compelling to consume, in a natural way, rather than littering your page with lots of links and hoping for the best. This approach will create a connection between the user and your brand, encourage repeat visits, and lead to a more pleasant experience overall.

Contextual relevance is key to bear in mind. You largely want to link to content that explores concepts mentioned on one page in greater detail (or links to other related products and services), enhancing their understanding and creating a seamless transition from page to page.

However, internal linking can also be beneficial when it comes to guiding users through the conversion pipeline and generating leads. Strategically placed links that help drive users toward your calls to action can be extremely beneficial in turning web browsers into customers, but make sure this makes sense in the context of the user journey you are trying to map.

Best Practices for Effective Internal Linking

When it comes to internal linking, there’s no singular strategy that’s going to earn you page one rankings and an influx of new clients. Rather, you need to consider your site structure and content carefully to create a web of links that make sense and provide a great UX.

However, there are some good habits to bear in mind if you want to fully harness the potential of internal linking for both SEO and user experience.

  • Ensure that internal links are natural and contextually relevant. The linked page should provide additional value to the user and the content should flow together harmoniously.
  • Use diverse anchor text that fits well into the content. Avoid repetitive or forced use of keywords as anchor text, as it can come across as spammy and negatively impact both SEO and UX.
  • Implement a logical hierarchy and structure for your internal links. Important pages should have more internal links pointing to them, reflecting their significance.
  • Use internal links sparingly, as excessive linking within a single piece of content can be overwhelming. Aim for a reasonable number of internal links that enhance user experience without being distracting.
  • Ensure that your internal links are easily clickable and accessible on various devices to maximise mobile engagement.
  • Perform regular audits of your internal linking strategy. As your website evolves, new content is added, and old content is updated or removed, review your internal links to provide users with a better experience.

Get More from Your Links

If you’d like more information on internal linking, our team of experts are on hand to answer any questions you might have, audit your site’s link structure, or address any of your SEO concerns. For help and support, get in touch.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, or would like to discuss a specific issue with your site, please get in touch using the form below.

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Magnus Linklater SEO Consultant

Author: Magnus Linklater

Magnus is an SEO specialist and online marketing professional with over 25 years of digital and traditional marketing experience.

As the founder of Bespoke Digital, Magnus has worked on technical site audits and content marketing campaigns for hundreds of clients and regularly writes about SEO strategy, tips & tricks.

Find Magnus on LinkedIn

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