Internal Links: What, Why, How

Illuminated question mark in a dark hallway.
When you think of SEO, links probably come to mind. But there are different types of links. You have internal links on your website from page to page, outbound links pointing from your website to another website, and inbound links pointing from another website to yours.

Today, I’ll give a brief overview of internal links — what they are, why they are important to SEO and how to do it.

What Are Internal Website Links?

An internal website link is a link that points from one webpage on a website to another webpage on the same website.

Graphic illustrating the difference between internal links, inbound links and external links.

Some examples of common internal links include:

  • The main navigation at the top of a website
  • The footer links at the bottom of a website
  • Any contextual links embedded within the content on a webpage
  • Those related-content links that suggest other content on the website
  • Those links within a webpage (aka “fragment” or anchor links)

Why Are Internal Links Important to SEO?

There are several reasons why internal links are important to a website’s SEO strategy. Here are a handful:

  • Satisfy users: Internal links help your website visitors discover content while they are on your website. Besides providing related information that may be helpful, keeping visitors on your website longer is one goal of SEO.
  • Reinforce relevance: Internal links help search engines figure out what your website is about. The way you organize your website’s content through its internal links can make you more relevant to show up on page one of the search results.
  • Help search engines: Internal links help search engines discover more of your content. As search engine spiders crawl your website, links help them get from page to page to discover and index more pages.
  • Distribute PageRank: Internal links can boost the authority of any given webpage. When one high-authority webpage links to another page on the same site, it passes some of its authority to the page it is linking to.
  • Strengthen ranking pages: Internal links, especially breadcrumbs, pass PageRank upwards and define a clear expertise hierarchy (silo identification).

How Do You Do Internal Linking for SEO?

One of the best strategies for internal links is SEO siloing. SEO siloing is a concept we invented in the year 2000.

The goal of SEO siloing is to organize your website content through internal links so that:

  • It is easy for website visitors to find and access your content, and
  • It is easy for search engines to crawl and understand what your website is about.

This creates a better user experience. At the same time, siloing makes your website more relevant for certain search queries (aka the target keywords you are after).

SEO siloing involves two main activities:

    1. Create an internal site structure through the physical directory. Physical siloing is the practice of organizing webpages by the URL structure, using a hierarchical website directory. For example, one URL directory structure might look like this:
      1. herdingcats.com
        herdingcats.com/how-to-herd-cats
        herdingcats.com/how-to-herd-cats/equipment-needed
        herdingcats.com/how-to-herd-cats/pitfalls-to-avoid
    2. Create an internal link structure through a virtual directory. Virtual siloing is the practice of interlinking your similar-theme pages through contextual links. For example, using anchor text to link from one blog article to another blog article on the same website.

Depending on the website, it may not be possible to change the directory structure to implement physical siloing. However, virtual siloing is more important and should be sufficient if you establish clear themes via links.

To learn more about how to do internal linking, see:

Internal Linking from Day One and Beyond

Internal linking for SEO takes a lot of thought, planning and implementation. It’s best to build this strategy into every new website, and then take it into consideration every time you add a new webpage to the site.

Review your content, internal links and silos on a regular basis. Ensure that the silos are organized well and that you’re taking advantage of any internal link opportunities in your content. And check out our New Link Building Manifesto for more on how to tackle your linking strategy.

How can we help you with your SEO needs? If you’d like a free quote and consultation, contact us today.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (8)
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8 Replies to “Internal Links: What, Why, How”

Internal links are a vital factor in SEO because Google can understand and rank your website better through good internal links. Better internal links structure helps to increase page views on your website & decrease bounce rate.

Never heard of SEO Siloing, however I have been following roughly the same concept for some time.

Nice blog. Thank you for sharing such an informative post. Keep sharing.

I don’t know how to perfect internal link building

Robert Stefanski

Hi Jasa,

To help you develop a successful link building strategy (internally and externally), we recommend our free 49-page e-book titled “The New Link Building Manifesto: A Complete Guide to Earning Links That Count.” Get your copy here: https://www.bruceclay.com/seo/new-link-building-manifesto-complete-guide-to-earning-links/.

Hope this helps!

Thanks Bruce,

SEO Siloing is very useful, especially for blog posts. Best way to track internal links.

Thank you Bruce :-) I’ve been Siloing since 2009, it makes perfect sense… and it works :-)

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