SEO Jargon Busting for Business Owners: Internal Links
You don’t need to be a professional digital marketing expert to know that links are an essential part of a healthy and effective SEO strategy on any website that needs a good position in the Search Results to generate traffic.
But are you aware that not all links are the same and that different links can perform different roles on your website?
There are 3 types of links that you can find on a website.
Internal Links that take the reader to another relevant page on your website.
Outbound Links on a page in your website that point the viewer to another website.
Inbound Links on a page in a third party website that transport their users to your website.
In this article I will be focusing on the first type: the Internal Link.
How To Spot an Internal Link
There are several ways that internal links are used in a website.
The main navigation bar and the footer will almost always contain links to other pages on the site.
In this navigation bar of the site we built for Canhamor, the links to the About Us Page, to Our Blocks, to Pricing etc etc are all INTERNAL LINKS that will guide the user around the website.
Similarly, the footer for our client Wildfoot Travel contains links to key pages on the site.
Contextual links embedded in the content of an individual web page referring the reader to other relevant pages on the same site.
The links that are embedded in this blog post content that we wrote offer readers the opportunity to find more information on the same website of this New York dentist. They are also a type of INTERNAL LINK.
The Role of the Internal Link in Improving SEO
There is more than one benefit to using internal linking throughout your website. Some of these benefits can be won simply by seeding your pages with internal links. The others, which in my opinion have the most potent impact, require an initial concept and strategic implementation.
Let’s start with the easy ones .It’s possible to achieve these benefits by sensitively including internal links on a page by page basis.
Extending User Time on the Website
If you help your readers discover more content that interests them on your site by linking to other relevant pages, they will spend longer sessions with you. Longer periods of browsing improves your website’s SEO credentials.
Signposting for Search Engines
Your internal links can assist a search engine’s spider to crawl more pages of your website. The more pages that are indexed in this way, the better your SEO profile.
However, if you want to take internal linking to the next level then you’ll need a larger concept that must be planned and strategically implemented across clusters of pages on your site.
We call this a Content Cluster strategy, and its role is to strengthen the ranking position of priority landing pages on your site. It’s a precision targeted approach to SEO that appeals to website owners and managers because it is budget friendly – it can be done incrementally – and because it focuses on improving the ranking position of the key marketing pages of a website.This type of SEO is less expensive and generates traffic for the most important pages of a website.
Building a Content Cluster
The best way to demonstrate how we do this is to see it in action. What follows is the process we followed to build one of the Content Clusters for a travel client.
The marketing priority for this particular exercise was to promote the Sales Page that was optimised for hiking tours of the Cinque Terre in Italy. For me everything in digital marketing: website design, sales copy, blogging etc etc begins with keyword research, and a Content Cluster powered by internal linking is no different.
In this instance we were looking for informational phrases and questions with search volume to support a Sales Page that had been optimised with a transactional phrase.
After analysing the results in terms of search volume and competition we narrowed our list to the following phrases and questions.
restaurant Cinque Terre
how to get to Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre map
Cinque Terre weather
Cinque Terre towns
Corniglia Cinque Terre
Vernazza Cinque Terre
Via dell’Amore Cinque Terre
Where is Cinque Terre in Italy?
How hard is the Cinque Terre hike?
What is the best time to visit Cinque Terre?
How many days in Cinque Terre?
When to hike Cinque Terre?
When should I go to Cinque Terre?
Is a day trip to Cinque Terre worth it?
A cluster of extended length blog posts and infographics were uploaded and each blog post contained links to all the others and to the target Sales Page.
By writing long form (posts of 2,000 words and above) that were optimised with terms that people are actually searching and questions that people are actually asking, the blog posts started to rank on their own merits. As they climbed the rankings, the support that their internal links generated for the Sales Page intensified, and in turn the Sales Page rose to appear in Page 1 positions of the Search Results.
This strategy was then applied to other priority pages and a series of Content Clusters were built for the client’s site.
The ROI of a Content Cluster
The Content Cluster served multiple purposes for the client.
- It provided the framework for a strategic internal linking programme that helped the Sales Page climb the rankings and deliver more traffic to the website.
- It generated relevant content that answered questions that users were asking.
- It produced additional pages for the website which also ranked, giving the client multiple ranking positions for individual phrases.
- An increasing number of blog posts that ranked in the Search Results delivered more traffic to the website.
- And, importantly, because the right pages with the right content that answers the right questions were ranking and being discovered by the right people, conversion rates increased substantially.
Website designers and copywriters often overlook the real SEO power of internal links. Yes, you can achieve minor benefits from randomly scattered internal links throughout your site. But the true magic and the greatest ROI comes from strategically harnessing the potential of internal links and maximising their impact.
If you would like some guidance on how to design and implement and effective linking strategy, feel free to contact me.