Optimising internal links can really help to boost your SEO efforts, and the larger your website, the more this optimisation can help Google identify the key pages.
What is internal linking?
Internal linking isn’t just adding links into the sidebar of your site to product pages. It’s a deliberate process that is designed to improve the organic ranking and traffic to specific pages, with the intention of increasing site visibility, improved keyword usage and page growth.
There are two strategies you can use for this:
- Linking between pages to spread out the link equity
- Capitalising on anchor text will help those pages rank for certain topics.
Internal linking comprises inlinks and outlinks. Inlinks are the pages receiving the links, and outlinks are those pages or links that are sending the link out.
There are various places on your site where you can implement internal links. The first is your navigation, which are your menu links, and should be reserved for high priority pages.
The next is the footer, which is often used for pages that aren’t appropriate for the navigation bar. Bear in mind that these links are often discounted by Google, but can still offer value for the user.
Your sidebar links are typically repeated across your site and can be used for promoting offers or related content.
Finally, contextual links are contained in the content on the page, such as in a description – these links make the biggest impact to your rankings.
What are the benefits of internal linking?
There are many benefits to internal linking, starting with the fact that it makes it much easier for users to navigate their way around your site. It also helps search engines understand the relationship between the pages on your website.
For example, if you have a blog post about a category of products you sell, and you include a link to a few of the products within that category, it’s really easy for users to find the items you’re talking about, and it sends context signals to search engines. Internal linking boosts the user experience of your site and makes it helpful for your customers.
It also impacts the metrics that Google values, such as time on page and page views. Internal linking helps to spread equity between the pages on your site, and develops hierarchy that’s important for your business.
Tactics for finding internal link opportunities
For the most effective internal linking strategy, you want to make sure the pages you’re linking to offer value and are the most powerful for your site in terms of which ones you want to rank highly. You can do this using analytical software such as Ahrefs or Google Analytics, which you can use to identify orphaned pages (a page without any direct links to it) and keyword-rich anchor text.
You can also use these tools to learn more about how people are using your site, which queries they’re using to find pages and how they’re navigating the site, so you can see whether a page is providing users with what they need. From here, you can include relevant internal links to make the site more useful and pages easier for customers to use.
How to implement successful internal linking for your website
1. Include key category and product pages in the menu
Your sitewide menu is a valuable resource when it comes to internal linking. It’s one of the first places people will go to find specific categories or products, so it’s here that you should include your main pages. The menu also helps to increase the internal authority of these pages, strengthening the hierarchy and information architecture of your site. However, make sure these links are curated – you don’t want to overstuff the menu with everything, because it will have the opposite effect on both your users and Google.
2. Add breadcrumb navigation to your pages
A breadcrumb navigation is the links at the top of the product or category page that shows the user where they’ve been. For example, a user might see something like ‘Home > Category > Product’. Breadcrumbs aren’t just useful for the user though – they also show Google the relationship between a set of pages. They’re a quick win for ecommerce sites and make it easier for Google and other search engines to crawl your site quickly.
3. Add subcategories
Sub-category links provide search engines with a bit more context about what the page includes, and that can do wonders for your SEO strategy. You can do this through text links or image links, depending on what works best for your niche.
4. Include product links to blogs
If you have a blog that you update regularly, it’s a great opportunity to include product links and category pages that maybe aren’t included in your sitewide menu. Similarly, you can include blog links on product pages to provide customers with more information about that item. Add links to the pages you specifically want to push and promote, and make sure that the blogs you’re including them in are relevant and naturally fit the product in question.
5. Keep the anchor text relevant
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when adding internal links is not giving enough thought to the anchor text they use. But the right text will give Google more context about the page you’re linking to, so don’t use generic text like ‘view more’. Instead, make it clear what the user will be taken to, such as ‘shop more dresses’, for example.
Internal links are so effective for ecommerce businesses, helping to guide the customer to the pages they want to see and giving context to search engines of which pages are more valuable. From blog links and sub-categories to breadcrumb navigation, there are various ways to implement internal links on ecommerce websites to great effect.