Are Internal Links Even Relevant for SEO?

Many webmasters and business owners wonder about the weight of internal links. They may be curious to know what they are, if they are important and how one can properly leverage them to boost their site’s rankings. Rand Fishkin was kind enough to share his insight on this often confusing matter. He provided the following tips and question answers in his session of Whiteboard Friday:

Internal vs. External Links

The difference between an internal and external link is where it originates. An external link points back to the webmaster’s website and gives it a vote of confidence from another site as a trusted source of information. An internal link points from one page of the webmaster’s website to another page on that same website. Internal links come from the website owner, so they don’t hold nearly as much weight as external links do. However, they can still affect page ranking, crawling processes and the visitor experience. The short answer to the question of whether website owners should care about the internal links is yes. They do matter, and all websites should have them. That being said, the linking structure and the linking decisions have to be intelligent for the person to get any benefit out of doing it.

Stay Away From Footers and Nav Spamming

One of the biggest mistakes that SEOs and webmasters make is behaving in a spammy way when it comes to trying to get higher rankings for certain keywords. Google will quickly penalize a site that shoves a bunch of keywords and internal links into the footers of every page or the navigational system. As a matter of fact, the penalty may be so harsh that the webmaster sees a huge drop in rankings. Fortunately, Google will remove such a penalty rather quickly if the person rectifies it quickly.

Link to a Page That Has External Links

A good practice is to link to a page that has a little bit of authority from external pages. The internal link can work with the external link to bring the site up higher in the search engines.

Relevancy Is Important

Relevancy does matter when a person is creating internal links. The keywords should pertain to the page that is being linked to, and the link should point to a page in which the visitor will be interested. Choosing a random page may not work because it may not give the customers what they need.

Avoid Site-Competitive Anchor Text

Another helpful tip is to avoid using the same keyword to create internal links for two different pages. For example, the person should not link the keyword “shoes” to more than one page that may or may not have to do with shoes. That causes confusion and necessary competition. The webmaster should never create a situation where the site is competing with itself.

The long and short of the lesson is to use an internal linking system that benefits the site in terms of rank but also helps the customers to find what they need faster. An effective internal linking system can make the difference between regular visitors and people who bounce from the site because they can’t find what they need. The above-mentioned tips should produce positive rank result as well as satisfied customers.

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