Internal linking is an effective and easily-implemented optimisation measure, especially for websites with a lot of content. Optimisation means the improvement of a website’s user experience as well as the increase of the search engine rankings. The basic idea behind internal linking: the more links point to a post, a topic page or a directory, the more relevant the linked content is for a website.
Through internal links, the user benefits from further information about his or her search. If the internal linking is cleverly distributed, the user can come into contact with all aspects of a topic on a website. Internal linking thus helps to reflect the search interest of a visitor and, ideally, to display as many points of the user journey as possible on a website. In other words: from the first research on a topic, to the refinement of the search to a possible conversion, internal linking can guide the user in a targeted manner.
It is well known that Google keeps its cards close to its chest when it comes to the ranking of search results. When asked how a website can guarantee a spot in the top rankings, architects of the Google algorithm, such as Matt Cutts and John Mueller, give nuanced variants of the same answer: it’s all about the users.
Against this background, many SEOs can confirm the relationship between rankings and positive values for user signals such as dwell time or bounce rate. Internal linking makes an important contribution here. Every click on an internal link lowers the bounce rate – this is a measurable indication of relevant content on a website in Google’s rating. In this completely organic way, the value “dwell time”, another important metric, is also improved.
Last but not least, the number of internal links shows Google’s crawlers how important a page is within a portal. In addition to links from the category tree or footer, internal linking plays an important role in the hierarchy of a website’s content.
The internal linking from a continuous text has proven to be particularly effective for the Google ranking. In contrast to the structure of backlinks, it is important that the anchor text of an internal link is always the same. If, for example, the goal is to rank for the term natural language generation, the internal linking from the text should always start from the identical term.
The better the link is integrated into the content, the more valuable the reference is. Links from the footer are therefore rather less suitable to show Google that the target page contains high-quality content.
Internal linking must be used in a targeted and metered manner. When it comes to the question of how many internal links a site can tolerate, there are only guidelines based on experience. However, between 50 and 100 internal links can be tolerated by a well-maintained page. Warning: links from headers, navigation bars and link blocks form the basis of the total calculation, editorially-set internal links complete the sum.
Operators of niche websites prefer to do the internal linking manually. The more content a page has, the more difficult it is for editors to maintain the internal link network. For such sites, the use of an automated solution is indispensable.