Link building is one of the biggest parts of being able to rank on Google next to keywords. Without link building, your website is like a bunch of term papers scattered in the wind; Google just sees independent thoughts and may not realize that the group of them relate to each other and in fact, build on each other.
This is where internal link building is so important.
Building your internal content map means you have related articles that are connected with links. It makes your content look more like a book with chapters all on a related subject. This helps you get viewed as a subject-matter expert, which is a critical component of how Google is ranking content after the BERT algorithm update.
What Is an Internal Link?
An internal link is creating a page link to another article, sales pages, or FAQ sheet on your own website. It is defined as internal because it remains with your parent URL. For example, if your website is www.ACMESAMPLESITE.com, you might have www.ACMESAMPLESITE.com/blogname as a blog post. You might send people to your main home page at the end of the blog post by creating a hyperlink to the website home page.
When creating links, make sure you don’t always link to the same page on your website. You should develop content around your cornerstone and pillar content. Putting a link into your blog is simple and can be done while drafting in Word, Google Docs, or done in WordPress as you prepare to publish.
Highlight the words you want the link associated with (this is called anchor text) and then look for the link symbol in the menu bar. Paste the chosen link in the field and click return. That’s how you build the link.
Using Anchor Text
Anchor text is the highlighted text that you see in a blog post. It is often a blue text that stands out from the rest of the unlinked text. When you hover over the text, a link to another website appears. Anchor text is used for internal and external links; the difference is whether the link goes to another part of your website (internal) or to another website (external).
When possible, anchor text should reflect the keywords the other post is about. This helps a reader to know what the other content is about and that it’s a good resource to get further information about a specific keyword topic. It also helps define your intent to Google by showing Google what is your important content and what keywords it pertains to.
For example, if you are talking about emergency planning and your anchor text is “emergency water,” you would want that hyperlink to go to a blog post that specifically talks about emergency water. This helps readers know that you have more information on a specific topic and tells Google the same.
Building a Site Map
When building your website, web designers will talk about a site map. This is the structure of pages and how a reader gets from one page to another. A shallow site map takes one or two clicks to get to most topics from main pages. A deep site map has many levels of content. The deeper your levels of content, the more organized you need to be. This helps the user experience (UX) and Google understand what content you have and how it relates to each other.
For example, you could have five main topics of service you offer. If each of those has one or two levels of content to explain those services, that’s a shallow site map. However, if you have layers created that start with big, broad topics, and refine information with more details with other content, you could be looking at a deep site map.
A Pillar and Your Site Map
A pillar is a big topic that you want to demonstrate expert insight on. It has a foundation, “pillar” article with sub-pillars (like chapters) and supporting blogs (like sections in chapters). Some websites have a very narrow focus and only have one pillar. Other websites have multiple pillars to address different areas that fall under their expertise.
For example, a mom blog might have pillars on kids and school, family budget, family schedules, and household chores. Each of those have a ton of topic angles you can write about to help your audience get great information in one short article or get an overview in the pillar.
Building an organized pillar helps you keep your site map organized. You’ll be able to see the pillar and what blog posts relate to the pillar and how. This map makes it easy to do your internal link building because you can see what already exists and what is coming down the pipeline.
Google E.A.T. Love
Internal linking and anchor text is important to help the Google algorithm define you as an Expert with Authority to develop Trust (E.A.T.). Google has one job, to help those searching for answers on the internet get the right answer. Because there is so much information created and published online, Google is looking for those who demonstrate Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
This became important when Google announced YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) content requirements; Google has to be able to rank the correct information when it comes to people’s money or health. This is accomplished a few ways.
The credentials of your writers or your brand play a role. You can’t really talk about medical stuff without having doctors, nurses, or other real-life health providers providing correct information. However, some topics don’t require major credentials. For example, a mom blogging about making healthy meals inexpensively doesn’t need to be an economist or a chef.
But she does need to have enough content about meal planning and budgeting to show Google that this topic is her niche and she is an expert at it. The abundance of content around her niche on her website builds authority and as people spend time on the site, she is given the approval of trust.
Internal linking helps tell Google that you are building content around a niche to develop authority on the topic. As you send more people to the content and they stay and read the content, your trustworthiness grows.
Shoring It All Up
While most bloggers spend most of their time trying to get external links, you should definitely spend time working on internal linking. This is a great way to build your E.A.T. and get some additional Google love for having a massive amount of information neatly mapped in pillars. Keep anchor texts short (five or fewer words) and relevant to the topic the link goes to. Doing this with your other SEO and link building strategies will help you rank faster.