The SEO Benefit of Building Your Own Internal Backlinks
One of the most important factors in determining how well your web pages rank is the number and quality of links pointing to those pages. Google see backlinks, links from another website to your web pages, as a signal that the content you have on your site is ‘link worthy’ and therefore should be relevant for the topic it covers, so it should rank for searches related to that topic.
But not all links are created equal. Links from sites that Google already views as ‘authority’ sites (i.e. it has a high degree of trust in the content on that site), that are relevant to the topic on your page, will always be more valuable, in terms of improving your rankings, than links from low quality, irrelevant sites.
To put it simply, the better the quality and volume of your backlinks, the greater the signal to Google that your page should be ranking for the terms it is targetting. But getting links from these authority sites can be hard work and take time – time to secure the links and time for the links to impact your rankings. But there is an effective strategy for increasing the number of good quality, relevant links to your page that you can implement in a couple of hours – internal links.
Internal links are exactly what you’d expect, links from within your own website. These still count as backlinks and are effective in helping your rankings for a couple of reasons. First, better linking between the internal pages of your site makes it easier for the search engines to crawl your site and understand what your site/pages are about and should be ranking for. Secondly, and this is the key part of this strategy, setting up internal links between pages that are all relevant to each other creates Topic Clusters and shares any SEO benefit between these related pages, which can help with their rankings.
This idea of Topic Clusters, similar to the idea of silos, is a great way of setting up any new website (or reorganising your current site if you feel up to it) and there is a great article here that explains more about how it works and why it is beneficial, but for this strategy we simply want to focus on a quick and easy way of building some relevant internal links to the pages you want to rank.
Finding the Best Internal Links
As we’ve already highlighted above, the best internal links are from pages that are relevant to the page you’re trying to rank and also have some SEO benefit to pass on. These might be pages on related services, a reviews/testimonial page that gets good traffic, or popular blog posts on topics related to your target page.
There is an easy way of finding the pages on your site that Google thinks are most relevant to the page you want to rank – simply ask Google. If you just type the following into a Google search, it will return the pages on your site that it thinks are most relevant for the specified search term (which should be the term you are trying to rank your target page for):
site:yourdomain.com ‘your target keyword’
You should find that the page you are trying to rank comes up first (this is a good way to check that it’s actually well-optimised to be relevant for the target keyword) and then a list of the other pages on your site in order of relevance for the term. You might sometimes find that the homepage comes up first, but that’s only because it’s nearly always the strongest page on your site and it is probably well-themed for the overall topic you want the site’s pages to rank for.
So, as an example, if we use Google to search for site:grapefruitseo.co.uk ‘london seo services’ we get the following results below:
Our page that ranks for this search term is naturally the most relevant, but after that is a list of other pages on the site that Google thinks are also relevant for this search term – by adding links from these pages to the page we are ranking, we’ve been able to build our own, relevant, good quality backlinks, which complement the backlinks we’ve attracted from other external websites.
Building Internal Links the Right Way
Adding in-content links from relevant pages on your site can help give the page you’re trying to rank a boost, but it needs to be done properly – you don’t want to simply add a hyperlink with the exact term you are trying to rank for on every other page of your site.
Internal links count towards your overall backlink profile, which means they also count towards how that profile is optimised, so you need to make sure that you don’t over-optimise your backlink profile for exact match keywords by adding too many internal links all using the same anchor text. A good way to make sure you avoid this issue is to only add a small number of internal links at a time, maybe 10-20 depending on the size of your site and how many relevant pages you have, and only use anchor text that is related to the search term you are trying to rank for, not the exact term itself – and maybe even mix in some URL and general terms as well.
So, for example, if you have a page that you are trying to rank for the term ‘london interior designers’ you might use the following anchor texts in your internal links:
- Link 1 – luxury interior designers in London
- Link 2 – contemporary interior designers
- Link 3 – interior design agency
- Link 4 – services we offer
- Link 5 – www.abcdesigners.com/london
- Link 6 – interior designers for commercial properties
- Link 7 – find out more
- Link 8 – our London design agency
- Link 9 – experts in contemporary Interior Design
- Link 10 – interior designer for London clients
These anchor texts have a good proportion of relevant terms to help support the ranking page, but they are unlikely to cause any over-optimisation issues for the keyword you want to rank the page for. A good way to find terms related to your main keyword is to search for the main term in Google and then look at what terms show up in the auto-suggest list and the ‘Searches related to…’ section at the bottom of the results.
We’ve already discussed how Google looks more at topics than individual keywords these days, so you are unlikely to have a page that is solely ranking for one term, so just make sure whichever valuable terms (i.e. those that drive traffic) the page is ranking for, don’t become over-optimised using this internal linking strategy.
This is a great strategy to get some good quality, relevant backlinks to your pages, and while it might not show an immediate effect, it is a quick and easy to implement and can genuinely show some benefit if done properly. If you need assistance implementing this or any of the other strategies, or you would simply like to talk to us about your long-term SEO objectives, don’t hesitate to reach out and we can discuss how we can help.