It never ceases to amaze me to still come across excellent blog posts without a single internal link. Internal linking is the basis of on page optimization. As a matter of fact I truly believe that it should be one of our fundamental practices for optimizing our posts and pages.
What many bloggers don’t understand is that linking within not only improves SEO (search engine optimization), it also improves your readers’ experience and it allows you to navigate your users towards your target pages. Let’s look at why on page SEO and particularly internal link building is essential for your blog’s well being.
Why Internal Link Building Is Fundamental For On Page SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Unless you are blogging just for fun and you have absolutely no desire to be found by search engines link-less strategy is the way to go.
But if on the other hand your objective for your blog is to be found you need to help the search engines find your posts and pages. Let’s have a look at why you need to do that.
When a person searches online for an answer, he inputs a question into the search box of a search engine such as Google and within seconds the search engine retrieves information from its database and serves him thousands of pages of potential answers.
On WordPress alone 33.7 million new posts are published monthly. These posts need to be searched by search bots for information, indexed and stored in the database. The bots relentlessly scour the World Wide Web. And, in very simple terms, the search engine transverses the www universe by crawling it from link to link to link as you can see in the schematic and very simplistic diagram below.
I am also including an older but still a relevant video by Mat Cutts which explains how search works.
If your post or a page has no links to it from your other pages how are search engine bots going to find it and determine its value?
By linking your pages you are giving the search engines signals that tell them which pages are important or which pages or posts are thematically related to each other. This is very important because it helps the search engines evaluate your pages. If your pages have no links they are likely going to be deemed unimportant and overlooked by search engines.
Make sure that when you are linking to other pages you use your site’s keywords as well as LSI keywords (related words).
Internal Linking Improves User’s Experience
When your article does not have any internal links you are basically telling your reader that this is an isolated article. The reader may or may not explore your site further. If he does not, your bounce rate is up and you are basically telling Google or other search engines that the user’s experience was lacklustre and, because the visitor leaves the site quickly, your site does not have much to offer.
On the other hand, when you have internal and relevant links on your pages your readers will likely click on the links and explore your other pages. This immediately brings the bounce rate down. Low bounce rate is one of the factors that helps to improve your search engine ratings.
As well, and more importantly you want to offer your readers a good experience. You want them to learn from your blog. You want them to want to come back. And you want them to trust you so that eventually they will become your customers. By exposing them to your other articles you are giving them this opportunity.
Some of you may argue that that you have an XML and an HTML sitemap to help the search engines and the reader. As you know that I am in favor of sitemaps but it is not enough. A sitemap and a good navigation will help but I consider them sort of general and kind of unidirectional.
Internal linking is more specific and may lead your reader to articles that may be lost in a sitemap, especially if you have a large number of articles. Linking is very important, particularly for the older yet relevant blog posts that would be completely overlooked even when someone clicks on your categories because posts are listed in chronological order from the oldest to the newest.
There are various internal linking strategies that some bloggers adhere to. I am not going to include those here because it would make this post extra long and complicated. Personally, I like the flat site architecture concept of linking and if you want to learn about it you may want to check out Rand Fishkin’s video from Moz . It is one of the best that I found online for flat site architecture.
Hopefully this article gave you some food for thought regarding the importance of internal linking both for your blog’s on page SEO and also for improving your reader’s experience. If you’ll adhere to this practice you will also find that your bounce rate goes down and you may even improve your sales if your links lead to your product review pages.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you.