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The 2020 Guide to Internal Linking and Site Navigation

This is a popular conversation that many SEOs like to have around the agency water cooler. Internal links and navigation are of vital importance for both good UI/UX and SEO. When people ask about internal linking, we like to say that internal linking is like a laser for search engines. When you internally link to an interior page, that interior page is “lit up” for search engines as a high priority page for crawling.

What Is An Internal Link? 

An internal link is a link on a website that takes you to another page on that website.

Why Should You Create Internal Links On Your Website?

Internal linking helps search engines identify important pages on your website. Internal linking can pass rank equity between your pages. It also helps your visitors find other content that is useful to their experience of their website.

What Is the Three-Click Rule?  

The 3-click rule is somewhat controversial, but is a good rule of thumb to follow. All important information on your website should be within 3 clicks of the entrance page. The theory behind this rule is that if people aren’t completing a purchase or goal on your website within 3 clicks, they will either bounce. If people have to complete more than 3 clicks on your website, they might get frustrated and leave. Internal linking can make your website more easy to use and make people stick around a little bit longer. 

What Anchor Text Should I Use On My Internal Links? 

As a rule of thumb, it is best not to use anchor text like “click here” or “read more” as anchor text on your internal links. Here are some examples of correctly deployed anchor text that will help both search engines and site visitors: 

  • We offer the best basement waterproofing services in Lansing, MI. 
  • Read our blog that describes how to make candles out of our essential oils. 
  • We offer locksmith services for the greater St. Louis area. 

How Many Internal Links Can I Have On a Page? 

Google’s webmaster guidelines used to advise that you could have up to 100 internal links on a page. If you look at some Wikipedia articles, they have hundreds of links. If your website’s page has relevant content that draws on other useful content on your website, go ahead and internally link to those pages. 


How Many Keywords Can I Include In My Anchor Text On Internal Links?

Google will only count between 8 to 16 words of your link anchor text. It’s better to keep your use of keywords in the anchor text short. Instead of saying “we offer the best basement waterproofing services in the Greater Lansing area,” it is better just to say “we offer the best basement waterproofing services in the Greater Lansing area.”

How Many Pages Can I Link From My Site’s Main Nav and Footer Nav? 

We recommend that you keep your website’s navigation simple, intuitive, and easy to use. If you are an ecommerce store and you have 5,000 products, make sure that these products are categorized. There is also no need to include all of your categories in your site’s main navigation. If you go to Macy’s website, there is a “Shop By Department” dropdown that opens up a mega menu. Many other e-commerce stores have a “Shop” page that lets you choose the category from a dropdown menu. Other e-commerce stores have their categories in a left-hand nav bar. 

For websites that are not e-commerce, pages are best organized in a parent/child relationship. For example, if you are a basement waterproofing company, your basement waterproofing services page might have child pages with keywords that relate to basement waterproofing (i.e. internal basement waterproofing, exterior basement waterproofing, basement mold removal, etc.). 


As a rule of thumb any drop downs in your main nav should have no more than 3 to 5 items. For your website’s footer, you should only have top-level pages that are the core pages of your website. 

How About Blogs? 

As a rule of thumb, blogs should internally link to related pages on your website, and if applicable, other blog posts. If you are writing a blog that you want your readers to have easy access to, consider building it as a page instead of a blog article so that it’s included in your website’s navigation. 

Do Anchor Links Help My Website?

Anchor links are links that actually send your website visitors to other areas on very long pages. They are also used on one-page websites. These can be helpful for your readers who just want to review one section of your blog. Snack Nation’s blog on employee wellness ideas demonstrates effective use of anchor links on a very, very long blog page. Sometimes, depending upon Google, anchor links can show up as “site links” in snippets on Google organic search.

Does Internal Linking Help Me Get Site Links in Google Organic Search?   

Webmasters have no control over getting site links in Google Organic Search. Site links are the little links that appear under your snippet on Google when you rank highly. If you click on a search result that has site links, you are likely to find that the pages that are site links are actually pages that are internally linked from the page that is in the SERP. 


Is It Possible That I Have Too Many Pages On My Website? 

Yes. If you find yourself trying to find places to link every page on your website, it is very possible that your website has too many pages. You may also be in danger of keyword cannibalization, where you have pages that are competing for the same/similar keywords.