The Internet is a large digital landscape and in this landscape, you can think of websites like islands that are interconnected with each other.
In these islands, there are roads that connect one place of an island to another. You can think of these roads as internal links that connect one of a website to another page within the same website.
The more these roads are, it becomes easier for one to explore more places on the island.
So, if we formally define internal links in terms of SEO, then it is:
“Any link that is placed on any page of your website that leads to another page of the same website”.
In this article, I am going to explain everything you need to know about internal links. Like, different types of Internal links, how to make it more accessible and how to optimize it.
So, without further ado, let’s start the article.
What are Internal Links?
Internal links are any links placed on your own website that leads to another page of the same website.
It is an essential aspect of search engine optimization and plays a significant role in enhancing the website’s visibility and user experience.
Connecting one page of the website to another page, it creates a path for both the search engines and users to explore new content of the website.
Imagine you are exploring an online clothing store that has a wide range of apparels and accessories.
While browsing through their product catalogs you noticed a section called “Featured Summer Collection”.
When you click on that section, it leads you to a dedicated page showcasing their latest summer fashion trends.
So this link is an internal link, on one hand, it leads you to a section you like, on the other hand, it also helps you explore a new section on the website. In both of these situations, the user experience of the website increases.
These internal links not only facilitates users to navigate websites easily but also make it easier for search engine crawlers.
With these links search engine crawlers find new content on your website and index it on the search engine. With internal links search engines also determine the relevance and value of a webpage.
Now that we understand what internal links are, let’s look at their types.
Types of Internal Links
There are different types of internal links that you can utilize to enhance your website’s user experience and SEO results.
Links that are present on the main navigation menu of a website are called Navigational Links.
These links are primarily placed at the top of the webpage and provide easy access to the different categories present on the website.
It allows users to directly navigate different important pages of the website. For example, homepage, about us, product/services, blog, contact page.
Links that are embedded with an anchor text on the main content of the website are called Contextual Links.
From main content I mean, the actual content that users are queried on the search engine to look on your website.
These links are also called Editorial links.
These links provide additional information about the content being discussed.
It allows users to delve deeper into a specific subject by navigating to relevant pages within the website.
Contextual links also help search engines to understand relationships between different pages and overall topic relevance of the website.
These links are considered the most powerful among all types of internal links.
Links that are present after the main content section of a website are called Related Links.
You can often find these links after the end of a blog post suggesting additional content to the readers.
These links are particularly helpful to increase engagement on the website that potentially decreases the bounce rate.
Links that are present in the footer section of the website are called Footer Links.
Footer links usually contain links to not so important pages of the website from the user point of view.
Breadcrumb links serve as the secondary navigation of the website.
These links are useful to create a hierarchy of content on the website.
You can often find these links at the top of the webpage below the navigation. It contains a series of links representing a path from homepage to the current page.
Breadcrumb links help users to understand their current location on the website and allow them to easily navigate to the higher level pages within the hierarchy.
Internal Anchor Links
Links that allow you to quickly jump from one section of a website to another section are called Internal Anchor Links.
These links are also called Jump Links.
These links are generally employed on a webpage that is too long or a landing page that has multiple sections.
Clicking on these links lets users reach directly to a specific section without scrolling the whole webpage.
I have incorporated Jump links in this article as well. Just scroll above and click any items on the table of content.
While jump links enhance the user experience, it also helps search engines to create sitelinks.
So now we understand different types of Internal links, it is time to learn how to make it more accessible.
How to Make Internal Links Accessible?
Making internal links accessible is not just important for technical aspects of website architecture but also for content structure and organization.
Here are some key strategies that you can follow to make internal links more accessible.
Create an Optimized Website Architecture
In order to help users and search engines easily find and navigate through different sections of the website, designing an optimized and logical website architecture is super important.
You can design an optimized website architecture by grouping the related content together and create a topical cluster.
To create a topical cluster, you just have to group your website content in different categories, subcategories, and tags.
Create XML Sitemaps
XML sitemaps serve as a roadmap for search engines outlining the structure and hierarchy of a website.
On one hand, where XML Sitemaps makes it easy for search engines to easily find new content of a website, it also helps to understand the relationship between different web pages.
Use Descriptive Anchor Text
Anchor text is clickable text within a hyperlink.
Generally, these are highlighted text containing a link that users can click to navigate to another webpage.
Anchor text plays a crucial role in improving the quality of internal links.
It helps search engine crawlers to understand the relevance of a link.
Hence, when creating internal links it is important that the anchor text accurately describes the content of the linked page.
The anchor text should be meaningful and conveys the purpose of the link.
Descriptive anchor texts are not just useful for normal users but also for those users who are using any assistive technology to understand the destination of a link.
Internal links should be visually distinguishable from its surrounding text.
We do this to make it special when comparing it with normal texts present on the webpage.
You can use different formatting options like color, underline, bold, etc to make it visually distinguishable.
A. In a webpage, when we are linking to the same URL twice and the difference is only in the anchor text, then Google only considers the anchor text of the first link and ignores the other ones as they are redundant. Hence, we should keep a webpage out of redundant internal links.
A. Marking internal links with a no-follow tag is a bad idea as it tells search engines that you are not trusting your own links.
A. Changing your internal linking strategy based on seasonality is a great idea to boost web pages that are important in a particular season. Suppose you have an e-commerce website that sells Christmas products as well. However, Christmas products peak their popularity at the end of the year. So, if you change your website’s internal linking strategy a few months before Christmas, giving an internal link boost to those product pages that sell Christmas items can improve those pages ranking on the search engines.