A lot has been said about the contribution of external links to the overall strength of your SEO-based marketing plan. Perhaps you didn’t know that internal links can be almost as valuable.

What are internal links?

An internal link sits within the text or images of a webpage, and directs the user to another page on the same website or domain.  They enhance user experience by making it quick and easy for visitors to source the information they are looking for at the click of a button.  Internal links could be linked to many types of other pages, including product pages, content pages or even to a blog or other resource page within the same website.  They are also useful for establishing site architecture and can help to improve the position of the site within on an internet search enquiry results page.

Let’s suppose you spent a certain amount of time and money building up Google rank for one of your web pages, and you eventually succeeded by consistently producing high-quality content that attracted a lot of inbound links from high-authority sites. When the time comes to do this for another page, there is a reflex to repeat the whole process from start to finish, even if there is a shortcut available. In this case, adding a hyperlink between the two pages could provide a large SEO boost, even without any external redirects to speak of.

Still, this opportunity is overlooked far too often in actual practice. Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and chasing references from well-known sources is definitely more exciting than simply recommending your own content. Internal links are not flashy and their participation in the algorithm is admittedly limited, but given the simplicity of their inclusion they carry a lot of sneaky potential. Here are a few facts that could persuade you to pay more attention to linking your pages going forward:

Internal vs. External links

Every SEO beginner soon learns that all links are not created equal, since Google weighs them based on where they originate from. More prominent the source, more Google ‘juice’ the link brings to the table. With this in mind, it doesn’t surprise that most site owners are focused on securing as much external support as possible. Collecting a large number of impactful links is a difficult job, especially if you are sticking only to ‘white hat’ techniques and avoiding shady operators, and it might take months to pick up enough steam to climb to the top of the search results page.

Internal links are often lost in the shuffle, despite their obvious value for the overall SEO picture. They are generally quite useful for quick navigation and thematic content stringing, but in certain cases they can provide additional value by improving the ranking of the page. Most importantly, internal links are under full control of the website owner, so it doesn’t take any special effort or investment to have them in place. This factor almost equalizes the value of internal and external links – the former may not be as powerful to impact the results, but they are far more cost-effective.

Using your Google capital wisely

As your website makes its way to the top of the rankings, it accumulates authority and becomes a valuable source of links – even if they are directed at another page within the same domain. Looking at it from another perspective, you could say that a well-positioned website with a rich network of inbound links has access to an additional resource that it could use to develop new properties. Introducing a new page and linking to it from the homepage or another popular location means giving it a head start that might translate into quick success.

The state of contemporary digital marketing is so dynamic that resting on the laurels is out of the question. The only prudent line of thinking is maximisation of the authority you managed to acquire in order to elevate your new products faster than the competition. If you do it the right way, you can create a snowball effect and gradually build a robust promotional system capable of supporting your expansion. Internal links may represent just a minor part of this strategy, yet forgetting about such an obvious tool at your disposal would be totally irresponsible.

Planning the link structure in advance

Nobody knows a website as well as the people who design and operate it, so owners and their marketing advisors should be able to identify logical connections between various bits of content. Depending on how many of your pages are already well-optimised, you can make a plan how to strengthen your entire website content tree and then put it into practice as new content is pumped out. If you have a good idea which parts of your online portfolio might become more important in the upcoming period, you can start investing in higher SEO rank of key pages that will be used to link further.

However, don’t get carried away with this handy exercise. If your page has no other verifications of relevance other than a bevy of links from the same website, search engines might view that as cheating and downgrade its position accordingly. If you keep only organic connections and don’t generate dummy pages just for this purpose, you should probably be OK in this respect. Like with everything else, Google will recognise if your content is relevant and properly optimised and reward you for it.

Matt Cutts from Google Webmasters talks about how to boost your lower ranking webpages

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