Whenever I start talking about SEO, people’s eyes glaze over.
I get it: SEO isn’t sexy or fun, and more bloggers would rather hide their heads in the sand, chanting, “The best SEO tip is to write good content!” While I do believe that good content is extremely important when it comes to SEO, there are some other easy things you can do make sure your content gets found, by both by readers and search engines. You’d be a fool not to spend five extra minutes on your post if it means reaching more readers.
Today, I wanted to remind you of one of the best and easiest changes you can make to your blog posting procedures to improve your SEO: internal linking. I already touched on this tip in my massive linking earning resource and on my recent post about the only three things you really need to know about SEO, but it deserves a post of its own!
What is Internal Linking?
There are two different types of website links that you can include in your blog posts: internal and external. Most bloggers who care about SEO concentrate on external links, or getting other websites to link back to you. However, you should also care about internal links, which is when you link to your own blog posts from other blog posts.
For example, this is an internal link leading to my post about negative headlines. On the other hand, this is an external link leading to my friend Ian Cleary’s extremely useful post about video marketing tools.
External links matter because that’s how Google knows whether or not other people find your content helpful – or, at least, it’s one of the ways. Internal linking, on the other hand, gives people and search engines a way to navigate your site to find more information.
Does Internal Linking Really Help SEO?
Yes! But you can’t think about it in the same way you think about external links.
You can post a link back to a specific post on your website from every other post on your blog, but Google doesn’t really count those links as “votes” that this post is good. Of course you like the content. You wrote it!
Instead, internal linking is about:
- Telling Google what your content is about: When you link to related pages, Google is learning that there’s a similarity. Google looks at your anchor text and other context cues to help understand what other pages are about.
- Helping Google find content: If a page on your website isn’t connected through links in any other way, linking to it can help Google find it so it starts ranking.
- Encouraging people to read more pages and spend more time on your site: Google likes to see low bounce rates and high time-on-site numbers. Links give people a natural next step that isn’t clicking on the back button.
Internal Linking Made Easy
Internal linking is pretty easy, even if you have thousands of posts on your blog and, like me, often forget about what you’ve written. Here’s what I recommend:
- Link to every post at least 3 times over the first month after it is published.
I keep a running spreadsheet of every post I write. When I link to a post once, I color it blue. When I link to it twice, I color it red. When I link to it a third time, I remove it from the list. That doesn’t mean I’ll never link to it again, but at least this way, I know that every post gets at least three links. It also helps me fill out my editorial calendar, so I always have great content ideas waiting to be written.
- Keep a list of your top ten best posts.
I keep a second spreadsheet with posts that I’m extremely proud of. Of course, I do my best with EVERY post I write, but sometimes, I write an epic post that is 5000+ words and an amazing resource not found anywhere else online. I call these “hub” posts because I link to them often. It’s a hub for links, with the other posts linking to it being spokes.
- Link to posts already performing well on Google.
Lastly, once or twice a month, I check Google Analytics specifically to look at the posts that are already bringing in the most search engine traffic. If they aren’t already on my “top ten” list, I make sure they get another internal link or two over the next week so I keep encouraging traffic to this post.
Even if you think you don’t have time to organize this kind of internal linking strategy, here’s what you do: simply ensure that you add at least two or three internal links every time you write a post. It’s that easy to get started. There’s really no excuse not to!