When a business is trying to implement an SEO campaign, either by itself or by using an SEO agency, the subject of backlinks will inevitably arise. Backlinks are often referred to as the oxygen that fuels rankings, and that is a pretty good analogy given that they are essential for an SEO campaign to deliver high rankings.
Whenever backlinks are being discussed the focus is usually on external links. In other words, the links are all coming from other websites. However, what is often overlooked is the fact that creating links internally can have a hugely positive effect on the SEO of a website and they also offer up other benefits.
The first benefit is that because these links are all going to be within your own website, you do not need to ask anyone’s permission to create them. This means that you can easily generate an effective internal linking strategy that maximises your SEO and subsequently improves your rankings.
One caveat we must highlight here is that there is a risk that website owners go to town with their internal linking and end up doing more harm than good. Simply generating dozens of internal links randomly is not going to produce any benefits at all. Google is wise to just about every shortcut out there and that applies to excessive internal linking. Too many links and links created for no apparent reason are to be avoided.
Another benefit of strategic internal link building is that it can give Google what it seeks above all in every website and that is improved user experience (UX). UX is Google’s driving force and as such it will reward with improved rankings any website that creates a fantastic UX and conversely punish with lower rankings those websites that it perceives as offering poor UX.
The reason that internal linking can provide a better UX for your visitors is that it can form the basis for navigation throughout your website. Internal links in conjunction with a menu will allow visitors to easily find their way around your website. As such they will be less inclined to leave and more inclined to browse through your website for some time. This is noticed by Google and its algorithm should give you a rankings boost as a result.
The benefit that most SEO experts will look for when internal linking is introduced to a website is the distribution of the authority coming into the website from external backlinks. To explain this simply, if you have a page that has an external link to it from an authoritative and well-established website, you will want at least one internal link from that page to another within the website.
What happens is that some of the authority from the external link is passed via the internal link to the second page. It might not be enough to send it careering up to the number one position for every keyword, but that is not what you want anyway. Instead, you want your SEO to look as natural as possible, and as you add further internal links to that page it will steadily gain traction within Google’s algorithm and its ranking will increase accordingly.
One final point on internal linking is regarding the use of anchor text. To increase the relevance of the page for specific keywords or keyword phrases, the use of anchor text containing those keywords and keyword phrases should be in place.