Internal linking, guide to their ideal use and without errors ruining the SEO

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In the work of on-page optimization of a site we must not overlook the importance of links: if we have already devoted several insights to the off-page part, that is, the value of backlinks and the relevance that link building has, also to strengthen our Google ranking, now we focus on the management of internal SEO links, the internal linking that is likely to receive less attention.

What are the internal links for the site and SEO

Nothing could be more wrong: a correct organization of internal links generates benefits for the whole site, as we will see. First of all, through a hypertext reference to another internal resource, an articulated path is created, which crawlers read and interpret: consequently, the most linked contents become more visible (because they are accessible from multiple inputs, so to speak) and the page reference assumes greater relevance for search engines.

Optimizing internal links highlights strategic content

The internal links contribute in fact to transmit link juice, that is the “power” of the link that flows from the source page to the target one, and so with this strategy you can direct users and search engines to content that is most relevant to our goals, such as deepening or converting pages.

Internal linking produces positive effects

For a site, then, building a network of good internal links is almost as important as the structure of the domain, because they facilitate the work of search engine crawlers (which scan by following the criteria and the path traced by the links, finding and categorizing in a simple and quick way the most relevant pages), help to resolve any conflicts of keyword cannibalization since they signal the priorities and, at the same time, they also help user experience.

Improvement of user experience

The other advantage of internal linking is that they improve the use of the site by users: a page with insights into other quality resources can stimulate the curiosity of readers to read further contributions related to the topic, or – as we said about  404 pages on eCommerce – can be used to report products similar to those displayed or sold out, inviting customers to click on the link.

The benefits of an effective internal linking

All this produces positive effects for the site and for SEO optimization, because it increases the average time of users, increases the pages for each visit and reduces the bounce rate. A good internal link structure accompanies the visitor in a path that we have thought for him and that is obviously aimed at maximizing our objectives, leading him as said to further pages of information or direct conversion. The attempt is to keep the user who lands on a page (perhaps addressed by the positioning in SERP of a keyword) prompting him to visit other pages of the site that may be of its use and related to what he was initially looking for.

How to use internal links on the site

In this context, an important role is played by the anchor text, a term that should be familiar (we also talked about link building errors): according to SEO theories, The anchor text clickable by visitors and perceived by crawlers must have some basic features, starting with highlighting. It seems trivial, but if the reader does not recognize at first sight a link will not be able to click on the resource, making in fact vain the work: for this reason, distinguishing a link with a different color or a distinctive feature from the normal content of the page is one of the priority aspects to achieve a functional and effective internal linking strategy.

Inserting an internal link: the choice of the anchor text

No less important is obviously the study of the terms to be used to suggest the link, or the precise management of anchor texts: it is generally considered that the best choice is to use text links with descriptive anchors, in natural language, inserted in a well-defined semantic context and relevant to the content of the landing page, that can induce the reader to deepen the topic without misleading it, so to speak. The ability of the copy (or SEO professional that proceeds to the optimization of pages) is to know how to create an anchor text designed to offer added value to the experience of the reader, to encourage him to click on the link and stay on the site, explaining the theme of the new target.

The link juice distributed by internal links

If this is the big picture on internal links, let’s now come to some practical advice on how to use them: first of all, it is important to insert in the text only links that can be really relevant and important for the visitor, escaping the temptation to insert burst references, which may not achieve the desired results; On the contrary, focusing on a few links on a page could help you to benefit from a high-quality link juice and increase your indexing and keyword placement results.

As said, it is important for SEO goals to link the most visited and important pages of your site, also taking advantage of anchor text with keywords optimized in order to accompany the connection and remaining consistent both in anchor texts and in the choice of the target page.

Internal links, 10 errors that can jeopardize the strategy

And therefore, a careful management of the internal links to the site can be one of the keys to convey traffic and trust to a page relevant to our activity, but also to organize hierarchically the pages.

There are, however, some risks and errors that we can commit by creating internal links and that can compromise, if not even frustrate, the strategy and SEO on page: we have listed here ten common mistakes, the result of poor competence or carelessness, that we can easily locate and correct to relaunch our online project.

1.     Not making the internal link recognizable

The first error is rather trivial and, in fact, should not have effects in SEO terms, but only on the actual usefulness of the link for the reader: do not use a link highlighting signal (that it is a different color from the other portions of text or an underlining of the anchor) does not make to understand to who it is on the page that a resource exists exactly that can offer an informative deepening on the topic or lead to other useful sections of the site.

2.     Using the nofollow tag for internal links

If the previous mistake had effects for readers, marking with a nofollow tag an internal link means reporting to Google and spiders not to follow the link, and therefore potentially not to consider the link as valid. As we know, nofollow is a useful tool when it is intended to prevent bots from following and from weight to link on which there is no possibility of control or, on the internal front, to those present in registration forms and similar elements, but it is generally advisable to leave in dofollow the internal links.

3.     Linking to URLs locked in the robots.txt file

Continuing with technical errors, it is clearly a mistake to use internal links to send users to resources that had previously been blocked via robots.txt files.

4.     Leaving orphan pages

Orphan page is defined as a page of a site that does not receive any links from other pages: these resources are likely to be scarcely available and not to be indexed by search engines, at the expense of its own strategy. Be careful not to confuse orphan pages with Dead-End pages, which are those that receive incoming links but have no external links.

When you locate an orphan page you have to wonder about its value: if it has valid content and you want to point to indexing, you have to connect it with the other resources of the site, or on the contrary you can proceed to the removal from the sitemap so as not to waste any crawl budget.

5.     Not correcting broken links

Continuing with critical issues as simple as frequent, a problem that is often faced is bumping into links that do not work. The reasons can be various: it can be wrong to type the URL (especially if entered manually), or it can be deleted the old landing page (generating dead links).

This error affects the flow of link equity across your site and may negatively affect placements: broken links may be a low-quality website signal for Google, and they are certainly a nuisance and a hindrance to readers and their user experience, as we said already talking about the factors that make the UX negative.

6.     Exceeding in internal links

The effective management of internal links allows to improve the crawlability factor and to optimize the distribution of PageRank from the homepage to the pages of the entire site, activity that takes the name of Pagerank sculpting: this obviously does not mean that you can exaggerate, inserting hundreds of internal links in an uncritical and illogical way. In the past it was advised not to exceed 100 links per page, but now this rule is considered obsolete because much depends on the relevance of the links and the complexity of the sites, and there is an absolute limit if not that of common sense.

Anyway, these are potential harmful errors to the SEO strategies that provide to link all the subpages with others (without curing the similarity of the arguments on page), which produce an excess of outgoing links from a single page or subpage or, on the contrary, they create too many links from one subpage to another subpage.

Techniques of this type can make the page look as spam, even damaging its positioning. In addition, you risk diluting the Pagerank and the link equity that is distributed between the various links, which will then transmit a lower SEO value. Finally, using so many links can distract readers and complicate their interaction and navigation on the site.

7.     Using manipulative internal links

Another concept that should be clear is that internal links serve to offer a useful route to the user’s navigation and crawlers, whether it is a passage between pages/categories or a deepening on particular topics. Therefore, the use of internal links used for purely manipulative purposes, that is inserted in footers, in areas of the template where a person hardly executes a real click or with identical anchor text to always point to the same URL is potentially harmful and could expose the site to penalties.

8.     Not using links within the text

When thinking about the strategy of links you can underestimate the importance of editing the content of the page: on the contrary, if the copy is able to insert in a natural way a link to useful resources of the site within its text, offers added value to the user experience and a good signal to search engines.

The advice is therefore to not only make links in headers or with the old footnotes, but to insert the internal links at the right time and at the right point of the on page text.

9.     Not managing the anchor texts

As in the link building strategy, even for the management of internal links anchor text play a central role, both to encourage readers to click on the resource, both to report a possible keyword to Google and potentially strengthen the placement of the target URL.

Google’s guidelines make it clear that “the use of anchor text also for internal links can help users and Google to navigate better in your site”, and therefore also the grammatical formulation of this portion of text can be decisive in the SEO strategy.

In principle, the anchor texts should provide a brief indication of the specific content of the target page thanks to the use of perfectly matching keywords or long tail keywords, which can also benefit the placement plan on Google.

So, when choosing anchor texts for internal links you have to choose consistent keywords, which describe the content of the other resource and that are obviously present also on the destination page.

10. Using irrelevant anchor texts

A more specific error, related to the one just described, concerns the use of anchor text that is ineffective and of little relevance, which do not provide useful and valid information to readers. These include excessively long anchor texts, overoptimized ones (with ungrammatically inserted keywords, just to satisfy the search engines), the continuous repetition of the same anchor text or, again, the trivial use of expressions such as “click here” or “read more”.

Internal links, a SEO strategy to improve the site

Ultimately, the internal links are used to indicate to Google and readers the structure of the site, to distribute link juice to the most relevant pages for us, to optimize the time spent on the page of visitors and to help improve the positioning on search engines. For this, they are a useful SEO technique for every type of website, provided you do not make mistakes in using internal linking.

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