Every now and then we’ll meet with someone who is so caught up in creating external links that they totally neglect to create an internal link network. Although they probably aren’t as impactful on rankings as external links are, internal links are still an integral part of any SEO strategy.
Let’s take a quick look at what internal links are in WordPress and why they matter.
What are Internal Links in WordPress?
Internal links are links that point from one page to another on a website. They are not to be confused with external links which point from one website to pages on other websites under different domain names.
Are Internal Links Important for WordPress SEO?
Yes. They help improve SEO in several ways.
Internal links allow you to create a solid site structure starting with your homepage. From there, you want to create internal links that allow people to navigate to all the other pages on your site in as few clicks as possible.
Google looks at how many internal links each page on your site has pointing to it in order to understand how important each of those pages are to you. By pointing lots of links at a page or piece of content, you are telling Google that you believe it is important.
When search engine crawlers come across internal links on your site, the likelihood is that they are going to follow those links to find out where they lead. By including relevant internal links across your entire site, crawlers will be able to easily navigate your site and discover all your content.
Discovered content then gets added to a search engine’s index and is available to the public in search results.
If you don’t have internal links, you can easily end up with orphaned content. These are pages with no links pointing to them that search engines may never discover. Which is a problem because search engines can’t send searchers to web pages they don’t know exist.
It’s best practice to make sure that every page on your site has at least a couple of relevant links pointing to it. It’s also best practice to create an XML sitemap and submit it to the search engines so they have more tools for discovering content on your site.
More importantly, internal links allow you to provide users with additional resources while allowing those visitors to discover other relevant content of interest.
Notice that we said “relevant” content. If you are linking from one page to something completely unrelated, you are bound to create a less than ideal user experience for people clicking on that link.
And, internal links can help you pass link equity (link juice or ranking power) from pages that are ranking well to pages that could use some love. Keep reading to find out how.
Can Internal Links Improve Rankings?
Yes, you can improve a pages ability to rank using internal links.
If you link to a low-performing page from multiple relevant pages that have good external links pointing at them, you pass some of that link equity to the low-performing page and improve its chances of ranking.
So, if a page on your site has a lot of good external links pointing at it, you might want to consider linking to a few other pages on your site from it.
Keep in mind that pages with lots of links are going to share less ranking power than pages with just a few links. If you have a page with 20 links on it, you are going to be splitting the ranking power of that page up amongst the twenty pages those links point at. If you have a page with two links on it, you will be splitting up the ranking power of that page between the two pages those links point at. So, in general, the fewer the links on a page the better it is for the pages they are pointing at.
Can Internal Links Hurt SEO?
Yes, internal links can potentially be detrimental to SEO.
If you have lots of internal links with the same anchor text (clickable link text) on the same site and they all point to the same page, there is a chance Google will penalize you for trying to manipulate that page’s rankings. This is an example of over optimization.
Instead of using the same anchor text over and over, diversify it a bit by using synonyms and other phrases with similar meaning.
Now that you know why internal links are important to WordPress SEO, pencil in some time on your calendar to do an internal link audit. If you don’t currently have Yoast SEO Premium, we recommend you upgrade so that you can take advantage of its internal link recommendations.
Here are a few resources that will help you out.
Google - Google Search Console Internal Links Report
Search Engine Journal - 3 Big Reasons Why You Must Audit Your Internal Links
Moz - Should SEOs Care About Internal Links
At the very least use Google Search Console’s Internal Links Report to make sure that you don’t have any important pages that are lacking links, or unimportant pages with tons of links pointing to them.
Erik loves breaking down complex SEO topics into understandable instructions anyone can follow. In his role as an SEO coach, he guides Pathfinder SEO customers through the SEO process on a daily basis, giving them helpful tips, instruction, and advice along the way.