In a nutshell, an internal link is a link from one page to another on the same website. All websites have internal links, but not all websites have strategic and well executed internal linking structures as a part of their marketing strategy (this is a perfect example of an internal link). If utilised to its full potential, link building can boost your website’s overall performance in terms of search engines and improve the ranking across your site. Internal links can be compared to pawns in chess, they are often underrated, but if used correctly, you can turn them into powerful players in your SEO strategy.
An internal link is like a strand of yarn that connects one page of a website to a different page on the same website. (Think of the red ball of yarn in the Ancient Greek Myth ‘The Minotaur and The Labyrinth’, where Theseus was able to navigate the underground maze and kill the Minotaur by using a ball of red yarn to find his way in the dark.) Internal linking allows Google Bots to find their way from one end of your website to the other without getting lost. In an internal link, the source domain (the website where the link originates from) and target domain (the website where the link is pointing to) are the same.
Put simply, internal linking occurs when you have a link to another page on your website. An external link is a link from your website to another site (or vice versa). In other words, internal linking is when you link to your own pages, while external links are to pages on other websites or domains.
Well, to put it frankly, internal linking is to bot crawlers what Google Maps is to us. Gone are the days when you had to travel with a physical map or navigation apps. This new, effortless form of travel and navigation is what a great internal linking strategy feels like to Google’s bot crawlers. And it will improve your SEO because it’s a way to show Google the structure of your site. If done correctly, it will help pages on your website to rank better by giving Google a map to your website. A map that indicates which pages on your website are more important and what these pages are talking about.
Therefore, internal links are important because they help Google understand and rank your website. Similar to a treasure hunt, internal linking gives Google clues/guides to follow in the form of links. These links, along with descriptive anchor text, make sure that Google navigates your site the way you want it to. So they are a form of controllable linking. You can indicate to Google which pages of your site are important, as well as what the content on these pages is talking about.
So internal linking helps your SEO by:
Internal linking strengthens the overall search-engine-optimised value of a website. Internal linking across your website achieves this by providing clear paths for Google’s spider bots and a tight-knit network of pages and posts. In theory, by creating clear navigational paths with internal linking, you should also increase the time that users spend engaging with your website.
In the words of Google itself:
“The number of internal links pointing to a page is a signal to search engines about the relative importance of that page.”
So, if you have a page that is important on your website, when it comes to internal linking, the more links the merrier. One of the best ways of finding internal linking opportunities is to find pages on your site that rank for related topics and make sure that you link to these relevant pages with descriptive anchor text.