There are three types of links in inbound marketing: internal, outbound, and inbound. Each serving a different purpose, and each extremely valuable to the success of your marketing efforts. And each, a blog post in themselves.
So today, I’m going to take a closer look at internal links...
Back in the day, content marketing was used to sell, sell, sell. It didn’t matter why you were creating a piece of content or who you were creating it for, it was all about keyword stuffing and making sure your website ranked as high as possible in search engines.
But now, with concepts like inbound marketing coming to the forefront of the digital space, content marketers have a new set of objectives. Much more valuable objectives…
As our MD Liane mentioned in her recent blog post discussing the context and challenge of content marketing - content has to offer value to those we want to attract; it should help, inform, and entertain.
We need to have a positive impact on everyone we engage with, and offer something truly meaningful to them. Bring them to us, and make sure they keep coming back for more.
And a big part of this is making sure customers get all the information they are looking for. Giving them the content they are craving, in the places they are hanging out online. And once they’re on your website, and engaging with content, making sure they have easy access to other content that will meet their needs.
Whether it’s your latest eBook, a service page, or another helpful blog post.
And this is where internal linking comes in.
The brass tacks of onsite content
Internal linking connects one page of a website to another on the same domain. It defines and builds the architecture on a site, improves website navigation, distributes page authority, and boosts relevancy for specific keywords.
And if we think about all the hard work you’ve just put into your inbound marketing strategy - developing targeted content to bring your dream customers to you - it seems a shame to allow it to drown in all the new content flooding your website. Add internal links and ensure all your old content remains relevant and accessible.
However, although it’s a simple concept, the process can sometimes get a little complicated…
How many pages should you link to per page? How often should there be an internal link in your content? What anchor text should you use? Can it link to any page?
I recently came across some commandments to mastering this craft, which answer most of these questions. So to get you started with internal linking, here’s a digestible run through Neil Patel’s seven commandments:
1. Create lots of content
Creating content your audience craves, and plenty of it, is the first part of an effective internal linking strategy.
Inbound marketing is all about bringing potential customers in by providing them with content they want to read, and content that will keep them coming back for more. So the more you create, the more you have to offer them.
And with lots of great content, comes lots of opportunity to build internal links.
2. Use anchor text
Anchor text is probably one of the most confusing areas of this.
Too many of us get bogged down in ‘optimised anchors’, when really you just need to keep it natural. Lose the SEO tricks you have up your sleeve, and instead focus on making it audience friendly!
3. Link deep
Naturally, your top level pages (think homepage, contact us page, about us page etc.) are already going to have a flood of internal links linking back to them. So try and avoid it, unless you really have to!
Instead, go deep. Find the pages deep within the structure of your site, and hit ‘em up.
4. Keep it natural for the reader
As with any part of your content marketing strategy, it should always be about adding value for your audience.
I always think it works best if you write your blog, or page copy, or whatever it might be, and then read back through it to find areas where it would make sense to link to another page. Rather than setting out to write the content with internal links in mind.
If you’re sending your audience to content that matches the context of their interest, they are far more likely to indulge in another piece of your content.
Readers want really good content. Content links suggest you have really good content to offer, related to the topic they’re interested in.
5. Keep it relevant
Content links across your site should all work towards the same aim; enhancing your visitors’ experience on your site. Don’t link for the sake of it. Make sure it’s relevant.
If you’re writing a blog about one of your services, there’s a high probability that it will naturally link to that specific service page or a case study of that service in action. Whereas sending customers to a blog about an alternative service wouldn’t make as much sense...
6. Use follow links
Just as internal links build a site’s architecture, follow links build the architecture of your content marketing campaign…
Link juice should flow free from page to page.
If you’re using internal links correctly, follow links add much more value in terms of distributing page authority across your site.
7. Be reasonable
The number of links per piece of content is probably one of the toughest things to get your head around when introducing this strategy into your content marketing campaign.
And truthfully, there’s no right answer.
Just be ‘reasonable’. Reasonable in the eyes of your audience...
Matt Cutts, former software engineer at Google, recommends 100ish per page - within the content, footers, headers, navigation bars etc.
(Personally, I don’t think you need to get hung up on navigational links within your footers, headers etc. And as they aren’t in the body of your copy, they won’t be interrupting or harming your visitors’ experiences on the site. Contextual links are more important…)
Neil Patel suggests three to four within the content, depending on the length of your post (assuming they are around 1,500 words long).
Jamie White, from Search Laboratory, says that they should be added in moderation. The more you include, the less value (in terms of page authority) each will receive.
‘There’s no magic number. There is however, the all-important customer.’ - Neil Patel
So simply ask yourself: what number is going to be helpful to your audience?
New year, new you
If I’ve convinced you on the power of internal linking, then it’s time to start putting it into action!
Remember to keep those seven commandments in mind, and start creating an epic architecture for your site! Don’t just stop at new content - go back and enhance your previous content too… your dream customers are still reading it after all!
...for my next blog on the power of inbound links and how to develop an effective backlink strategy! [Updated]And if you want first look at all of our latest blog posts, sign-up to our supa-newsletter!