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Better rankings: Internal links help lead to the top position

The web page structure is of the highest relevance when it comes to being ranked by Google. Internal links improve placement.

Better rankings: Internal links help lead to the top position

Wednesday August 28, 2019,

12 min Read

The topic of internal links is inevitable when creating a website and relaunching a website. Nevertheless, it is underestimated by many and approached without a proper concept. The relevance of internal linking becomes clear when you realize that the majority of the 30 trillion indexed pages on the Internet can only be reached through internal links. In the following article, you will get detailed information about internal linking and what points are important for an optimized website structure to increase Google placement and conversion .

What are internal links?

Internal links are all links on a website. The thematic and structural connection between the sub pages makes it easier for users to navigate and the search engines to crawl. The search engine crawlers follow the links according to the robots.txt and store the information on their servers. Internal links inherit link juice and thereby help distribute the authority of a web page. However, they do not provide for more authority. The more authority the website has, the more link juice is inherited by each link.

By inheriting Link Juice, internal links show which content is important within a domain and how it relates thematically. Strongly linked websites are classified as more relevant than not so strongly linked websites. 

Good internal linking can also reduce the bounce rate, resulting in a higher time on site, another important ranking factor. The goal of the internal linking is to provide the user with additional topic-relevant information and to facilitate the navigation for users and search engines. This increases the conversion and the website gets a better Google placement.

How to guide search engines and users effectively through your website

For an optimal flow of visitors the right structure is essential. First, the main categories (also called silos) should be worked out. Silos have subtopics and sub pages that are thematically matched and linked together. 

This gives the website a clear structure. The main sub pages and silos should be accessible in the main navigation, so that the visitor can quickly find his way around. Most visitors first look at the menu items before they start to scroll.

In addition to the main navigation, the footer area and the sidebar are the most commonly used navigation menus. These can be very helpful to visitors, but can also quickly lead to too many links on the website. This reduces the link juice of each link. Therefore, the number of links to the essentials should be reduced and have a scope that provides added value for the visitors. 

The navigation, sidebar and footer often use too many links. One misconception is that nofollow and masked links do not count towards the total number of links, because for some years already such links are also counted to the total number of links, as well as the remaining internal and external links. 

There should not be internal nofollow links on any website, because these lead to nothing and therefore do not pass on Link Juice. To protect you from nasty surprises, it is also important to know that all links on a website restrictively apply the features. For example, if a nofollow link and a normal link lead to a landing page, then both links have the nofollow property.

In order for the positioning of the links to be easier, it is important to know that the higher up a link is, the more Link Juice gets inherited. Therefore, should be positioned in the footer links, which should be accessible from any page, but not too important for most users, for example, the imprint or privacy policy. 

The sidebar inherits more link juice than the footer, because the higher a link is placed on a page, the more link juice is inherited. As a rule of thumb for internal linking is: The more often a link is actually clicked, the more the link gets inherited Link Juice. The click probability increases the higher the link is placed on a page. Get links from the main navigation, so more Link Juice inherited as links in the footer area.

For a good internal linking breadcrumbs should be used. These automatically set links and the hierarchy is displayed optimally. Thus both search engines and users find their way around the website well. This makes sense especially at several levels. Categories and keywords also automate internal linking, but the keywords should be set to noindex to protect the site from Google punishments for "thin content".

The same goes for the categories on smaller blogs. As soon as there are several articles for the categories, it even makes sense to index the categories. All mentioned navigations are "site-relevant". This means that the links are set automatically and appear on every sub page regardless of the content. 

Even with smaller websites, such as one pagers and websites with few sub pages, a logical structure is important. For one pagers, internal links must be set using anchor links. So even with small websites faster navigation is possible.

The navigation within the content

Navigating only next to or above the content is not user-friendly. The user has to reorient himself when navigating through the website and this leads to the loss of many visitors. Further navigation through the content for further information, more detailed explanations and similar topics can be ideally placed in the content. By linking between subject areas their thematic proximity is shown.

The so-called content links are links that are loved by search engines and therefore have more link power than all other links. With links, a text link is always preferred to a picture link. Content links are also great for linking blogs from old to new articles. 

This is important to add value to older articles by providing more information on a topic. Upgrading the old articles will also improve your search engine placement, as the actuality of a website is also a ranking factor.

In the entire website structure, care should be taken to ensure that each sub page can be reached from the start page with a maximum of three clicks and that visitors can navigate the entire website intuitively and well.

With the right anchor text for better Google placement

When linking, not only the landing page and the location of the link counts, but also which anchor text the link has. The anchor text is a crucial optimization factor in internal linking. This shows the search engines which topic the landing page is about and which keywords should be positioned in the search engine.

There are various types of anchor text: 

  1. Anchor text with label : This includes all anchor texts in which brands are called. 
  2. Generic anchor text : This includes Call to Actions such as " Learn More" or "Click Here". 
  3. Partly matching anchor texts : These are the most "natural" anchors. These include anchors with the keyword and additional words that form a sentence or phrase. 
  4. Exact Matching Anchors : The anchor text and the keyword are identical. This can improve the ranking when used properly.

The last two anchor text types have the greatest potential for better Google placement. As soon as the keyword appears in the anchor text, it is considered as a strong signal for a thematic relevance of the bottom. This makes it useful to link pages either with partially or exactly matching anchor texts. 

Every anchor text should nevertheless be taken to ensure that it is informative and meaningful. The readability and naturalness have the highest priority, because the visitor should be able to read the text well and not be torn with too many keywords from his reading flow.

A keyword should be clearly defined per landing page, as with the page titles of the sub pages. If the anchor texts are identical or very similar to different web pages, then it is difficult for search engines to assign the desired landing page to the right keyword. An example: 

If the anchor text "single-family house" once on the page "domain.de/haus" and another time on the page "domain.de/einfamilienhaus" linked, then Google does not know exactly which page with the search term "single-family house" should be displayed. Therefore, it is important to clearly define and structure the anchor texts for each link target in advance.

In addition to text links, there are still image links. For these it is important to optimize the ALT-tag (alternative tag) and the title-attribute. Both tags should also be informative for the user and the search engine. 

As soon as there are several text links or image links on a sub page, then the first link per link target is considered and gets the link Juice inherited. There is an exception as soon as a text and image link are on a sub page. Even if the picture link is in front of the text link, the text link still counts. This shows that search engines pay more attention to texts on a website than to other elements.

The advantages of internal links

The big advantage of internal links over external links is that the placement of the links and the destination of them can be determined completely freely. In addition, the concept of internal linking is easy to implement. 

With many sub pages there are no backlinks, therefore one can distribute the authority on different sub pages by the internal linking. This can be used to highlight sub pages that have little backlinks. Due to the internal linking it is possible to achieve good placings with hardly any backlinks, especially in the long tail keyword area.

Another advantage of internal links is that there are no restrictions. Unlike backlinks, you do not have to worry about problems like Bad Neighborhood or the use of Money Keywords. It is even recommended by Google to use good anchor texts with keywords, so that the user knows what kind of page is waiting for him.

The interaction of external and internal links

Internal linking becomes especially effective when combined with a good backlink strategy. External links increase the trust of a domain and signal to the search engine that the website is an interesting contact point for links and their visitors. The higher the trust, the more Link Juice can inherit internal links. This interaction increases the visibility of each sub page of a web page. 

For example, if the homepage receives backlinks and thereby trust, then the link juice is distributed to the internal links. From the individual sub pages of the link juice is distributed again and that goes down to the smallest level. The closer a hierarchy is to the homepage, the more Link Juice gets it.

Best practice examples

There are some websites on the internet with a good internal link. Looking at the structure of the web pages and learning from the construct makes sense especially for larger websites. The best practice examples include the following pages:

Amazon: Amazon links the manufacturers, categories, similar products and much more on their product pages in order to provide the customer with the best possible result.

Duden: The Duden links synonyms on the detail pages, so that the visitor can learn more about the single word.

Yellow Pages: Many Yellow Pages link industries to city names on the category and detail pages to quickly guide visitors to additional search results.

Another very good example of internal linking is Wikipedia. Wikipedia has managed to be one of the websites with the highest visibility through relatively good content and many internal links. As soon as there is an article on a topic, Wikipedia is usually among the top three placements. 

If you look at an article, you immediately notice that all other articles on the topic are linked in the content. Google rewards this strategy. Because Wikipedia provides each visitor with an internal value added value.

What is important in an optimization

When optimizing a website, a lot of attention needs to be paid. So that one does not lose track of the optimization, a suitable concept should be created. The concept can be created and implemented using the following three steps.

Record the current structure:

First, the entire web page should be analyzed according to the current structure. To do this, it is helpful to note each subpage, the different levels from the start page, and any internal linking with anchor text and landing page. In addition, it should be highlighted which topics and sub-pages are particularly important and how they are currently placed.

Create a new and optimized structure:

then a concept for the website should be created. The concept should pay attention to the following points and can be easily created using the old structure: 

  • The structure of the web pages with all sub pages, their core content, silos and the different levels of the web page. 
  • The structure should be lightweight and intuitive and the landing pages should be no more than three clicks away from the home page. 
  • The navigation with the individual menu items, their landing pages and the associated anchor texts. The anchor texts should always be meaningful and informative. These should not be identical for different link landing pages.
  • The internal linking of the individual sub pages, the associated anchor texts and the landing page of the visitors. The number of links per website should always be balanced. With the right concept, the implementation of a good internal link will be much easier.

Implementation of the new internal link:

Once the concept has been created, the concept only has to be implemented. In the implementation should be especially made sure that there are no internal nofollow links and no links to redirects or error pages. Links should stand out from the rest of the text.

This is possible on the one hand by the color eg by the classic "link blue" but also by the font, for example, links can be underlined or written in italics. In addition, links get more link juice if they are found at the top of the page and the link has to compete with few links to other landing pages. After the implementation should also be taken to ensure that the website is kept up to date and both old and new articles link to each other.