On-page SEO 5 minutes reading time
Are you looking into SEO and want to optimize the content of your website to attract more visitors to your website? Then don’t forget the internal link structure of your website!
The internal link structure of your website is the set of links that point from your own website, to another page of your website. By linking from one page to another, you provide link equity (SEO value). Because internal links add value for users, it also helps you make pages more findable.
If you do not link to a particular page anywhere on your website, it is most likely a sign that that page is also not important within the structure of your website. As a result, Google will value that page less and the page will be visited less often. So with internal links, you make pages more important within the information architecture of your website.
Internal links have a ‘dofollow’ tag by default. This allows Google to understand that the links may be followed. Do you want a page behind the link not to be followed by search engines? Then make use of the no-index tag on this page; with this you provide a ‘nofollow’.
Useful SEO tools you can use to map your internal link structure are Ahrefs, ScreamingFrog, Semrush and even Google Search Console or the internal link checker. When using ScreamingFrog or Deepcrawl, you can have your website crawled in the same way that a Googlebot, the Google crawler would do.
A crawler is a piece of software that goes through all the pages and follows all the links on the internet. In this way, they map out which websites and pages are relevant and valuable. Your website is no exception.
The data from these tools can be exported to give you insight into your website. You can see which pages link to each other, which pages show a 404 or which pages have no internal links referred to them at all.
If a page does not receive any internal links, it is a so-called “orphan” page. These pages are harder to find for search engines. These pages receive no value from other pages, and the chance that there are external backlinks is small. Crawlers can only view these pages via your XML sitemap or if you have them indexed manually in Google Search Console. Not optimal for findability.
For a page to be part of the ‘SEO spider web’, every page must have at least one internal link. This means there must be at least one page that points to the page in question. However, it is much better if a page has several internal links. This makes it easiest for Google to follow.
Internal linking is often done without consideration, for example when you want to highlight a specific concept or page and give people the option of reading or viewing more about it. This is where people provide a clickable link (hyperlink) in the text to another page. Your menu or footer are also made up of internal links to other parts of your website. By doing so, you create cohesion between different pages, and you make sure that your entire website is assessed as valuable collectively by search engines.
Take a website like Oudersvannu.nl, for example. They are experts on parenting and babies. Not only is the header clear and logical to follow, in their blog articles you will find many relevant references to related internal blogs. This makes for a better user experience and is the focus of internal linkbuilding. Search engines also pick up on relevance. This, with good content, ensures that the website is recognized as a reliable and authoritative source when it comes to parenting and babies.
Besides using internal link building, you can also work as a marketer with external link building; obtaining links from an external website to your own website. This is really a separate profession, which also requires a different strategy.
As a website, you need a lot of valuable content to be seen as interesting in terms of obtaining backlinks. These are relevant and important websites, which according to Google have an authoritative position and therefore rank high.
Obtaining external links will therefore only be possible if you add value for another party with your content. The more external links to your website that are of value, the higher your position in the search engine results pages (SERP) will be. Of course, you can also link from your own website to other websites or social media pages. The method is not very different from internal linkbuilding.
Firstly, the internal link structure of your website is important for your visitors. You want to provide a clear navigation and design the website as user-friendly as possible to increase the dwell time on the website and the chance of a conversion. The dwell time maps how long a visitor stays on your website after he/she arrives at the website from the search engine results. This is something that Google values.
Visitors use the internal link structure to navigate within the website. Make sure you keep distractions on the conversion page to a minimum, i.e. the use of (internal) links.
As a marketer, you do not only want to create a pleasant website for your visitors, you are also focused on search engine optimization, making the website easier to find. The internal link structure of your website can contribute to a better findability in Google; the more internal (and external) links your website or even a specific page has, the more value Google attaches to it.
Please note: do not place an overkill of links in an article or on a page. Consider this as the total of 100% of your page. If you have five links on a page, then each page receives 20% link juice. The more links, the less value is assigned to each link.
It all starts with making your website structure as logical as possible. Think of a website as a book, with the homepage reflecting the table of contents. From the homepage, people will navigate to the majority of the website, which is how Google perceives it. From there, you navigate to the main categories, such as overview pages or important pages that should be easily accessible via the header or footer. Below that are subcategories such as a product page, which may also have niche subcategories. For an informative site, these could be blog pages. Make sure that Google understands this and finds your specific and most important pages easily.
As long as you remember that most value is given to the homepage, you can work on the so-called SEO spider web from there. Make sure it is set up as logical and structural as possible, so you can also ensure consistency between different pages.
An internal link structure must be easy to follow for the visitor and reader, but for the search engines as well. In an ideal world, it should take no more than three clicks for a visitor to navigate from the homepage to the most important pages.
Websites that focus on conversion should use internal linkbuilding to point visitors in the right direction. It is important that all internal links are up-to-date. Old links or links pointing to 404 pages will be experienced as annoying and increase the chance that the visitor will leave your website sooner. Note that Google also counts minus points for 404 pages. These are a waste of your crawl budget, and you want to minimize them at all costs. A good internal link structure is therefore an important part of your SEO strategy and certainly has an influence on the positions you achieve in the SERP.
Are you optimizing an existing website, or do you need to add content to a new website? In both cases, it is advisable to map out the website structure. There are also possibilities to partly automate the internal link structure and to influence it yourself:
With these tips, you can get to work on the internal link structure of your website. The use of SEO tools is also recommended so that you can understand where the profit lies.
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