When it comes to linking and SEO, backlinks get a lot of attention (and for good reason), but you can’t ignore the importance of internal link building for rankings and optimization.

Internal link building is a great way to move traffic around your site and increase the relevancy and utility of your various pages. It also helps search engines like Google find and assign value to your content, which is a key function of your SEO strategy. And unlike backlinks, which require action from other parties, you have all of the control over your internal linking efforts — meaning less work for a big payoff.

So how does it all work? Let’s explore.

What Are Internal Links?

An internal link is a link within your content that goes to another page on your domain. Think linked features on your homepage and links embedded within your blog posts that lead to other pages on your site.

Internal Links vs. External Links

Both internal links and external links add context to your site and provide a nice SEO boost, but they operate in different ways. Whereas internal links guide users to another location on your site, external links guide users to other sites.

It might not seem like good practice to send someone off of your page, but external links — along with backlinks — round out your linking strategy for better SEO. The external links you include within your content, like the internal links you include, help increase the authority of your page and give the search engines a better idea of where you fit in.

Why Internal Links Are So Valuable

Any tool that drives more traffic to your various domain pages is a win, but the benefits of internal links go even further than that.

There are two major ways that internal links provide direct SEO value:

  1. They create relationships between various pieces of content. Search engines are smart, but even they sometimes need some help connecting the dots between various pieces of content. Internal links do just that, connoting relationships between different pages to better help qualify your content. In the process, these links can pass authority on from one page to the other, helping you get double duty out of your top-performing content.
  2. They help guide your audience where you want them to go.  Internal links remove some of the barriers that stand in the way of seamless site navigation. So for example, instead of just telling a site visitor that you have a page devoted to tips and tricks for using your product you can give them a direct way to get there. This is great for conversions since each link serves as a call to action on the page.

Internal Link Building Tips

Making sure that you do internal link building properly is just as important as putting those links in there in the first place. Follow these tips to ensure that your internal links make a maximum impact on your SEO.

Prioritize Your Best Performing Content 

Not all internal links are created equal. For best results, focus the majority of your efforts on links that lead out to pages that are already ranking well. Not only will you get a boost in authority to the page where you’re linking from, but you’ll also send more traffic to high-interest content.

Keep ‘Em in Context

You shouldn’t just be adding links for the sake of links. All internal links that you add should serve a distinct purpose and have a legitimate place within the content. This tells the search engines more about what each page is about and also helps you avoid any SEO hits from improper link stuffing.

Use Links to Give a Ranking Boost Where Needed

Be strategic with your internal link building. In addition to using internal links to increase authority on new content, look at existing content that could use a leg up on the search results page — for example, a blog post that’s ranking on page two — and use internal links as a way to bolster that page’s authority and get it closer to the top.

Accelerate Conversions

Remember, one of the great things about internal links is that they serve as discrete calls to action. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to include links to internal pages that are specifically conversion-driven, such as linking to a downloadable asset or a newsletter sign up page. So long as the placement is appropriate (i.e. in context), you’ll get more eyes on your conversion-focused pages without having to do a lot of extra work.

Links matter. Whether they’re internal, external, or leading back to your site from somewhere else, each link that you use to build authority and connections on and off your site has an impact on your SEO. So get to work — there’s a lot to gain.