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Internal link building is a critical component of on-page SEO, but it’s also one that many do not understand. Internal links are those that are found between the pages of your website and are important for visitors to your site who use them to find different content. However, they’re are also important for search engine crawlers that use these internal links to identify the most important pages of your website and index them appropriately.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to utilizing internal linking and improving the link structure of your website.
DO Include Internal Links in Your Site Content: your site absolutely must have internal links. You can spread tons of value within your site by including them whenever and wherever you can. Be sure to link to different related posts in each post you write and don’t depend on a ‘related posts’ WordPress plugin to do all the work for you (though these plugins can be helpful). You’re better off embedding your links directly into your content. Don’t forget to revisit old posts once in a while and link to newer related posts. You never know where a visitor will enter your website.
DO Link to Different Pages: forget about linking to the same pages repeatedly, even if the page in question is a very important one that you want to get noticed. That page may not actually be the most relevant resource for all the other pages which can make it look unnatural. Instead, create content about related topics to these pages, and link naturally between them. You should link deeply throughout your site and send value to all of your rich pages.
DON’T Use Too Many Internal Links: while internal linking is essential, there is such a thing as overdoing it. There is no hard and fast rule about limiting the number of links per page, but there is still value in cutting back on the number of internal links that are used, particularly in your navigation. Google might not have a problem crawling a menu that’s loaded with links however, your visitors may be left confused and overwhelmed. Instead, keep your menus simple, mainly for your human visitors. It will make it a lot easier to navigate.
DON’T Over-Optimize Anchor Text: by over-optimizing internal links using exact match anchor text, you would always have to link to other pages on your site with the anchor text that you want that page to rank for. Often this is done so badly that the sentence doesn’t even make sense any longer once the link has been embedded. In fact, Google punishes some of the websites that do this with what’s referred to as an “over-optimization” penalty. Make sure your anchor text is conversational, easily legible, and understood. If your content sticks to its topic, it should be naturally and organically surrounded by keyword-rich words that create context that both Google and your visitors will understand and appreciate.
DON’T Practice Unnatural Internal Linking: don’t do anything to manipulate your rankings or Google will certainly penalize you. For instance, don’t automatically link to pages within your website when you use a certain word or phrase. This will create an unnatural backlink profile for these pages and will have lots of links all with the same anchor text. Also, don’t use a nofollow tag to links on your own domain in order to control where the value exists on your site. Nofollowing all but one internal link to boost that page’s rankings is an unnatural-looking tactic that could place you at risk of getting penalized.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a good head start to appropriate and effective internal linking on your site.