Internal links: What They Are and Why They Matter for SEO

Joel CariñoWritten by Joel Cariño|Last updated: 29 May 2024

What Are Internal Links?

Internal links are hyperlinks that point from one page on your site to another page on the same site.

These internal links bridge the gap between related content or relevant web pages using an anchor text.

For example, here are internal links from our complete guide to internal linking resource page. As you can see from the image below, the content features an internal link with anchor text “types of internal links.”

Screenshot of an internal link sample

Clicking on this hyperlink will likely take users to a page enumerating and explaining the various classes of internal links on a website.

While the anchor text seems straightforward enough, the page source tells us a different story. This is how the HTML source code looks like:

HTML sample for an internal link

Internal links allow users to navigate to other relevant or important pages on a website. 

For instance, a user reading an article on “how to lose weight” may follow links to relevant pages to the current topic like “low-calorie meals” or “high-intensity interval training.”

Aside from helping users access relevant resources, search engine crawlers also benefit when you add internal links. These links help Google understand a website’s internal link structure or hierarchy based on importance, relevance, or relationship to one another.

Internal links are indeed important. But sometimes, the importance of internal linking can be overshadowed by the confusion around all the jargon around the different types. So, let’s unmask them one by one quickly:

Internal Links vs External Links

Internal and external links are somewhat opposites in the link family. 

Internal links connect distinct pages under the same website. When users click internal links, they get sent to a different page but do not exit the website. 

On the other hand, external links are links that lead from one page on a website to a different page on another website. When users click external links, they get kicked out of your website and land on another.

External links are also called “outbound links.”

An illustration explaining the difference between internal linking and external linking

Internal Links vs Inbound Links

While both have the prefix “in-“, internal links and inbound links are worlds apart in terms of definition and SEO link value.

Internal links are concerned with bridging the gap between web pages under a single domain. No external websites are involved in the process.

Conversely, inbound links are links coming from an external website leading to a web page within your website. In other words, they are the antithesis of outbound links.

Inbound links are more commonly known as “backlinks.”

An illustration explaining the difference between internal linking and inbound linking

How Do Search Engines Use Internal Links?

As mentioned above, internal links are more than gateways for users to explore different content on your website. Search engines like Google use internal links to facilitate their functions properly. 

Google crawls the web for hours on end. It starts by crawling a list of known URLs first called a “seed.” 

Once it lands on an indexed site, Google then explores the ends of a domain’s site map using internal links. In other words, internal links serve as portals for crawlers to explore newly published but unindexed pages. Every new hyperlink discovered is added to the list of pages they will crawl next.

Infographic Demonstrating How Crawlers Discover New Pages Using Internal Links

It’s a good internal linking practice to always add links to new pages from already-indexed ones. Otherwise, search engines can’t find new content. This leaves you with orphan pages, or pages not linked to any other sections on your site.

Unfortunately, many people commit this internal linking error. Even the most comprehensive, 100% optimized content will not get indexed in Google if there are no links pointing to it, which essentially limits its SEO potential.

Circling back to the beginning, that is why we said internal links are ‘rudimentary factors’ for SEO.

All hopes of competing on Google’s SERPs are anchored on the quality of your internal linking strategy.

But there’s more to internal links than just bridges that Google follows and gateways for relevant content navigation. Below, we’ll look at the benefits of internal linking and how it can improve your site’s SEO.

Benefits of Internal Linking for Improved SEO

Benefits of Internal Linking for Improved SEO Banner Image

#1 Boosts SEO Ranking

There is a consensus among SEOs and marketers that ‘links’ are one of Google’s primary ranking factors. After all, countless case studies and analyses have shown the correlation between the quantity and quality of external links pointing to a page and its respective SERP position.

Links transfer PageRank from the source to the linked page. From an inbound link standpoint, backlinks from high-authority domains will transfer a certain level of authority to your web page.  

Similar to backlinks, internal links also transfer PageRank from the source to the linked pages.

Since not all pages on a website have the same page authority, internal links from high-PA pages can transfer link equity and boost the authoritativeness of new, low-PA pages. This eventually results in an improvement in search ranking.

Illustration explaining how link juice is transferred

Plus, you can even modify the direction of links to improve your strategy.:

  • Scale-up approach: Designed to boost the authoritativeness of already high-ranking pages. This is done by deliberately creating internal links connecting lower-PA pages to fellow high-PA pages, further boosting SEO positioning. 
  • Scale-up approach: Designed to assist inferior-ranking pages by transferring PageRank from ones that perform well. This is done by creating internal links coming from high-PA pages to lower-PA pages.

Of course, there’s more to PageRank transmission than just indiscriminate linking. The number of internal links on the page also affects how much link equity is transferred from the source to the target page.

#2 Enhances Crawlability & Indexing

Internal links are like gateways for search engine spiders to explore your site and discover all its content. A well-linked website makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index all its pages.

Always make sure to include internal links to and from newly published content. This hastens the crawling and, potentially, indexing process, leading to better visibility.

While links without proper internal linking may still get indexed eventually, it will take significantly more time than well-linked websites. 

Remember that indexing web pages is more than just a function of internal linking. To increase the chances of getting into Google’s index and ranking positively on SERPs, you must publish exceptional content optimized for a given keyword or search query.

#3 Improves Users’ Search Experience

Internal linking makes it easier for people to navigate your website and find related information to the content they’re reading. Users will click and engage with your content more, reducing bounce rates. This signals to Google that your content is high-quality.

Take a look at the example below:

Screenshot of LinkStorm's content on fixing internal linking issues

One section of our resource on contextual links talks about how to use LinkStorm for building contextually relevant internal links. Fixing internal link issues is one way this can be achieved.

In relation to this, we interlinked LinkStorm’s feature page about fixing internal link issues since this is contextually relevant to the discussion.

A user genuinely curious about fixing internal link issues will find the link useful to their customer journey. This may increase their interest in buying our product, if not more time spent exploring our pages, improving their search experience.

As you improve your users’ search experience, Google will take notice, benefiting your site with improved SERP performance.

#4 Increases Page Views and Time on the Website

In relation to the point above, offering relevant internal links encourages users to explore your content more deeply. Every click on an internal link accounts for another page view and an increase in session times.

On their own, page views and session times are no more than vanity metrics for SEO. That’s where effective content marketing comes in.

Internal links combined with engaging and persuasive content means that users will be more inclined to read. The more they digest your copy, the higher the chances of your content convincing them to purchase your product or avail of your services.

#5 Helps Create Informational Hierarchy

The arrangement of your website can be likened to a pyramid. From the homepage, some pages may have lower click depth or number of clicks it takes to reach them. But all of these web pages, regardless of click depth, serve as building blocks for the structure of your website.

A well-linked site will have a comprehensive informational hierarchy. These related web pages use internal links to interweave them together, making it easier for users to understand the flow of information.

On top of that, this also tells Google the contextual relationship of content.

#6 Reinvigorates Older Content

Older content, no matter how high-ranking they are, often gets forgotten as new pieces of content are indexed and published. They also tend to fall off SERP ranking as new information is published concerning that specific keyword or search query,

Internal links can help weather this inevitable deterioration. When you add links from newer and more relevant pages that connect to old material, you breathe new life into older content.

Google will notice as page views of your old content steadily increase, possibly resulting in a slight improvement in the link’s SERP positioning.

Of course, older content will perform much better when the information is updated. You may also target making content evergreen instead of updating it every season.

#7 Cost-effective Versus Other SEO Strategies

As opposed to other link-building tactics, internal linking is a free and readily available SEO technique that can significantly improve your website’s performance.

While backlinking may involve payment (either for links or outreach services), you can manually find internal linking opportunities and build internal links without external help.

Armed with cost-effective internal linking software, you can easily build pertinent internal links that both users and Google understand.

Need Better Internal Linking in Your Website?

The power of internal linking for SEO can never be understated. When done strategically, internal links can help improve your website’s overall structure and visibility, resulting in improved search rankings.

There’s just one problem: manually finding and building internal links can be tedious and time-consuming.

LinkStorm is a comprehensive AI-powered internal linking toolkit designed to automate internal linking.

Screenshot of LinkStorm's dashboard

From there, you can select between two algorithms on how you want the software to find link opportunities on your website.

Screenshot of LinkStorm's Link Opportunities tab
  • Semantic similarity: Uses AI-powered machine learning to understand the semantics behind content and provide pertinent contextual internal links.
  • Content matching: Uses keywords to find connections between pages.

The tool intelligently finds contextual links on your behalf in a snap. No more long and boring reading just to find sensible links for your new page. 

Here are some internal link opportunity results of LinkStorm’s semantic similarity feature:

Screenshot of LinkStorm's Semantic Similarity Link Opportunities

From here, you can accept or reject the internal link suggestions from LinkStorm and edit your WordPress post to insert the links. 

The LinkStorm team is working hard to create a plugin to allow users to automatically create internal links on their website straight from LinkStorm’s dashboard. This allows for a seamless experience and unrivaled convenience.

But even before then, LinkStorm’s capability to intelligently find and suggest internal linking opportunities can never be understated. Armed with this tool, you can welcome better SEO performance, improved crawlability, and enhanced search experience for your users.

So, need better internal linking on your website, LinkStorm can do that for you. 


Visit our pricing page and discover which plan works best for your internal linking needs.

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