Internal Linking Introduction: Mastering Website Navigation and SEO

Arthur Fabik

Internal linking is an essential tactic in your SEO toolkit, making it easier for both users and search engines to navigate your website.

By creating links that connect one page of your site to another within the same domain, you're not only improving user experience but also guiding Google's crawlers to understand your site structure better.

These connections form an information hierarchy that allows pages to pass authority to one another, enhancing the overall visibility of your content in search results.

When you use internal links strategically, you're giving your content the best chance to be discovered by your audience. This practice helps search engines index your pages more effectively, which can contribute to higher rankings.

At the same time, it benefits your visitors by providing them with relevant and easily accessible information, which can encourage them to spend more time on your site.

Good internal linking is about creating a network of pages that support each other, distributing ranking power throughout your site.

The Essentials of Internal Linking

In crafting a robust internal linking strategy, you should focus on the structural and navigational aspects of internal links, their SEO-friendly implementation, and the distinction between internal and external links.

Understanding Internal Links

Internal links are hyperlinks that connect one page of your website to another page within the same domain. This system is fundamental in establishing a well-organised website hierarchy, allowing you to direct users and search engine crawlers.

A successful internal linking strategy ensures that links are relevant and serve both the user's need for information and the navigation structure of the site.

  • Navigation: Your site’s navigation should logically guide users through your content with internal links in menus, dropdowns, or lists.

The Importance of Anchor Text

The anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. It's crucial for SEO as it provides context to search engines and users about the target page's content. For the best results:

  1. Use descriptive and relevant keywords.
  2. Avoid generic text such as 'click here' or 'read more'.
  3. Vary the anchor text to prevent spamminess, which can be penalised by search engines.

Internal vs External Links

While internal links connect various pages within your website, external links point to pages on other domains. Here’s how each serves a distinct purpose:

  • Internal Links:
  • Improve user experience by making navigation intuitive.
  • Distribute page authority and ranking power throughout your site.
  • External Links:
  • Can endorse the credibility of your website.
  • Provide users with additional resources.


  • Align your internal linking with your site's SEO strategy to enhance findability.
  • Use relevant and keyword-rich anchor text to boost your SEO efforts.
  • Balance internal and external links to create a user-friendly and SEO-optimised website.

Designing an Effective Site Architecture

Your website's architecture is the foundational structure guiding visitors through your content and ensuring search engines can effectively index your pages. Here's how to build a solid foundation.

Building a Hierarchy

Begin by defining a clear and logical hierarchy, which is essentially like constructing the backbone of your site. This hierarchy should resemble a pyramid, with the most important content at the top and subcategories branching out below. Here's an example:

  • Home Page (top-level, most general content)
  • Category 1
  • Subcategory 1.1
  • Subcategory 1.2
  • Category 2
  • Subcategory 2.1
  • Subcategory 2.2
  • Category 3
  • Subcategory 3.1
  • Subcategory 3.2

Keep your hierarchy simple with a limited number of main categories. Each of these should be descriptively labelled to facilitate easy site navigation.

Creating a Sitemap

A sitemap is an organised list of all the pages on your site. This tool assists both users and search engines in discovering pages on your site.

You should regularly update your sitemap to reflect new content, which can be done in XML format for search engines and in HTML for users. Ensure your sitemap is uploaded to your site’s root directory for easy access by search engines.

Organising Content into Categories

The content on your site should be organised into clear, well-defined categories that align with your hierarchy. This not only helps with site navigation but also improves the overall crawlability for search engines, which is paramount for your Search Engine Optimisation. When categorising, consider the following:

  • Keep categories mutually exclusive; a piece of content should typically belong to one category to avoid confusion.
  • Align the categories with user intent and behaviour, anticipating what your visitors are looking to find or accomplish on your site.

Benefitting from Strategic Link Placement

Strategic link placement can significantly enhance your website’s user experience and SEO performance. Specific placement of links within content, navigation, footers, and sidebars can all contribute to a more intuitive and effective website structure.

Contextual Linking

When you add links within the main body of a page, context is king. These contextual links should connect your readers to other relevant content seamlessly. Ensure they are relevant to the page content and contribute to the topic at hand. For instance:

  • If you’re explaining a complex term, link to a page that expands on that term.
  • When citing sources or references, include a link to the original material.

Such linking provides depth and value, encouraging users to stay longer on your site.

Incorporating Navigational Links

Navigational links are the signposts of your website, guiding users through your content. They usually appear in primary menus, submenus, and sometimes breadcrumbs. These should be clear and logical, helping users to find what they need with minimal effort. Examples include:

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Services
  • Contact

Your main navigation should be consistent across pages and located in predictable places, such as the top of the page or under a menu icon.

Footer and Sidebar Considerations

The footer and sidebar of your website offer additional spaces for strategic link placement:

  • Footers are a common area for legal information, contact details, and sitemaps. When used for linking, keep it organised to avoid overwhelming your users.
  • Sidebars are ideal for highlighting content, such as recent posts or popular products. However, don't overload your sidebar with links, as it can distract from the main content.

Both areas should have a purposeful layout, directing attention to important parts of your site without causing information overload.

Optimising for Search Engines and Users

Effective internal linking is critical for enhancing your site's visibility in search engines and offering a seamless user experience. Well-executed internal links can influence PageRank distribution and provide clear navigation pathways for users and search engine crawlers.

Boosting Page and Domain Authority

When you strategically place internal links, you guide Google's crawlers in understanding which pages on your site are most important. This can affect the Page Authority (PA) of individual pages and the Domain Authority (DA) of your entire site. Use Google Search Console to monitor the impact of your internal linking on your site's performance.

  • Page Authority: Aim to link from high-PA pages to those that need a boost.
  • Domain Authority: Spread authority throughout your site by linking related content across different pages.

Improving User Experience

Internal links that are logically placed and contextually relevant serve to create a narrative for your website visitors. They make the journey through your content intuitive and satisfying, potentially increasing time on site and page views while reducing frustration.

  • Navigation: Ensure your internal links provide a clear path to related content.
  • Relevance: Link to content that adds value and deepens the user's understanding of a topic.

Reducing Bounce Rate and Crawl Budget

By engaging users with relevant internal links, you decrease the likelihood they'll leave your site after viewing only one page, thus lowering your bounce rate. Moreover, an organised linking structure ensures efficient use of your crawl budget, allowing search engine bots to index your site more effectively.

  • Bounce Rate: Engage visitors by linking to high-interest, related content to keep them browsing.
  • Crawl Budget: Good linking practices ensure search engine bots can easily access and index your pages.

Internal linking is a powerful tool — not just for SEO but for creating a user-friendly website. By considering both search engine optimisation and user experience, you create a cohesive and efficient site architecture that benefits both your audience and your search engine standing.

Advanced Internal Linking Tactics

To maximise the efficacy of your website's SEO, advanced internal linking tactics are essential. They enhance site navigation and boost the relevance of your pages to search engine algorithms.

Employing Pillar Pages and Topic Clusters

Employ pillar pages as the foundation for your content strategy, linking out to multiple detailed pages that form a 'topic cluster'. This not only creates a more organised site architecture but also improves the thematic relevancy of your content. Ensure that your pillar page comprehensively covers a topic, linking to cluster pages that delve deeper into the subtopics.

Conducting an Internal Link Audit

Periodically carry out an internal link audit to ensure your internal linking strategy remains optimal. This involves:

  • Checking for link relevancy: ensuring links connect naturally with the content and contribute value to your user's experience.
  • Assessing link distribution: verifying high-value pages receive more links, signalling their importance to search engines.

Repairing Broken Links

Regularly identify and fix broken links. These can be detrimental, leading to a poor user experience and potentially harming your site’s SEO performance. You can use tools like Google Search Console or dedicated crawlers to find and resolve these broken links.

Updating Links in Old Content

Review and refresh links in your old content. Insert links to new, relevant content and remove links to outdated or irrelevant pages. Keeping your old content updated this way aids in maintaining a robust and current internal linking structure, which can assist in elevating your site's authority on certain topics.

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Arthur Fabik
Arthur is the Head of SEO at Local Digital. He's been working in the space for most of the last decade at some of the biggest agencies in Australia. Now, he's responsible for the Local Digital SEO team with one goal - smashing SEO results out of the park for our clients.

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