The power of internal links to boost your website performance

One key objective of having a website is providing your customers or prospects with great content. Do that, and they’ll probably keep coming back to your site regularly and will be more likely to spend more time there. We don’t want people to “bounce away” (although sometimes a high bounce rate isn’t a bad thing).

There’s one easy way to get people to spend more time exploring your site.

Include more internal links on pages and posts!

What are internal links? Well, anything on your site that can be clicked or tapped to take you somewhere else on your domain is an internal link.

That includes the website navigation, but links within the page copy itself are just as important, if not more important, for four main reasons:

  • They are a simple and effective way for people to get to the information they need
  • Internal links establish an information hierarchy on the website which is good for users and Google’s bots
  • They help search engines understand what a page is about
  • Internal links transfer credibility from one page to another.

If your website has no internal links in copy, people have no choice but to use the main menu structure or the search function to find content. It’s better to allow them move from one piece of content to another in a more organic and natural way. They might be reading a page or post because it is somewhat relevant to them, but an internal link could take them to something even more useful.

An information hierarchy helps Google’s and other search engines’ bots move through your website. Often large sites can be hard for Google to navigate because menus can’t practically show everything and pages can get lost. Good architecture is good for humans too!

In SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) terms, internal links have the added benefit of helping search engines understand what a page is about because their bots see the links as important.

Internal links also transfer credibility from one page to another to help both pages rank higher in search engines. Popular pages and posts on your website are especially effective at passing on their popularity to other internal pages. Just remember that if your SEO is targeting search engines you are doing it wrong. Think about user needs first!

What’s best practice when it comes to internal links

Our number one tip is to use descriptive text for each link. A link like “content marketing inspiration” is descriptive, whereas a link like “click here” isn’t. If you can use the target keyword of the page your linking to, that’s even better!

On a 300-400 word page or post, try to link to four or five internal pages and no more. Don’t overdo it! And include a couple of external links too.

Make sure the pages you are linking to are somehow related to the topic. Don’t add just anything.

Link from new posts or pages to old ones, especially ones that are performing above the average on your website.

It’s never too late to go back to older pages or posts and add internal (and external) links. Start with high performing pages and work through all your best content. This also freshens up the site, which is always a good thing.

While adding internal links to is a great idea, and spreads value of your content around more evenly, they’re not as powerful as getting incoming links from other credible sites. So don’t obsess over it!

If you’re struggling to add links to your copy you can add a list at the end of your page manually or use a related posts plugin. Have a look at a post by Patrick Patrick on ways to link to previous blog posts in WordPress for more…

Photo by timlewisnm on Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0).