Backlinks are the backbone of SEO. And there are two main types of links — external links that lead to other websites and internal links that point to other pages within your site.
For this post, I’m going to specifically discuss internal linking best practices so that you’ll know how to develop a strategy that keeps your readers happy and at the same time aligns with what Google is looking for.
Avoid Targeting “Money Keywords”
One of the most common mistakes (and one that can get you penalized) is to over-optimize internal links by using “money keywords.” By this I mean intentionally targeting keywords in hopes of improving your search ranking.
For example, my target keyword for this post is “internal linking best practices.” So if I created an internal link using that target phrase, I would be using money keywords.
But this should be avoided because it’s a practice known as using exact match anchor text — something that’s frowned upon by algorithms and can get you in trouble because it’s associated with spam.
Make Sure Links are Relevant
Another mistake is to try and “force” a link where the page you’re pointing to doesn’t truly match your anchor text. This usually happens because you want to promote a particular page, but there’s nothing in your content that really fits.
This too should be avoided, and you’ll want to always make sure that all internal links you create are relevant. This brings me to my next point.
Make Sure They Add Value
How do you know for certain that you should add a particular link? It’s easy.
Just be sure that it adds value for your visitors. As long as the page you point them to builds on the discussion and provides them with additional information they’ll find helpful, you’ll be in good shape.
Otherwise, you’ll probably want to skip it.
Don’t Overdo It
One of the more common questions is what specific number of internal links should be added per page. How many is too many?
The truth is there is no definitive answer, and Google simply tells webmasters to keep the links to a “reasonable number.”
In other words, don’t overdo it and jam pack a page with link after link. Most experts would agree that using three or four internal links per post is plenty and should provide you with the SEO juice you need without being excessive.
Don’t Create Too Many Links to Your Homepage
Marketing influencer Neil Patel explains, “Most sites have too many links to the homepage as it is. You would rather strengthen internal pages to boost the overall SEO of your site, rather than simply point more links at the homepage.”
This can throw your link profile off balance and can seem a little spammy to search engines. While it’s okay to add a few links to your homepage here and there, it’s certainly not something you want to do for every piece of content.
Following these internal linking best practices is pretty straightforward. And by doing so, you’ll provide a better user experience while at the same time appeasing search engines.