This post will go over

  1. What’s a natural amount of internal links for a website
  2. How you can use the London Underground to build a perfectly linked website
  3. How important the user journey is

Internal links. What are they?

Well, they’re probably the first thing that is forgotten when it comes to SEO; because it seems like admin BUT, they’re an extremely important part of the UX of a website. And, as a side effect of this, it helps identify the [supposid] importance of pages within your site for your visitors.

Internal links are hyperlink within your text to another page/image/etc. on your website.

I’ve come across people asking how do you not over/under do internal linking. Unfortunately, this is literally asking someone to judge how long a piece of string is but in real terms.

This got me thinking how would I explain it, how would I tell people what a good ratio is. Now came the part of the night where I fell off my high horse. It’s pretty hard to make it understandable and easy to understand but through some sort of outside the box thinking, I thought a London tube map is the perfect of perfect internal linking. Stay with me in this, it will make sense in a bit.

The London Underground, SEO and the User Journey

Look at the below image of a London tube map, what do you notice? I’ll make it easier, pretend the stations are web pages and the lines are internal links. Now imagine that this picture represents a website.

As you can see every station has at least two links connecting it to other stations and vice versa, as well the bigger the station is the more stations connect to it. Now one more question, why is this?…….. That’s right it’s the user journey. In similar fashion to a website, the London underground wants to gives their users the most access to important area’s whilst giving every user the chance and ability to navigate to the small stations, if they are relevant (where relevancy in this example means how close they are away.)

Now you can kind of understand where I’m coming from. A website like the underground has some main areas and similar to the underground these areas will have more pages linking to it and linking from it. So for example, the home page and main sector pages are all significant points of interest on a website, because traditionally they include deciding information and main points of navigation.

Say no to the user Journey and Say yes to Search Engine Optimisation

So now let’s ignore the “user journey” and smash the internal links for the purpose of SEO/ allowing every station to link to every station. What do we get?

The word is pandemonium, mayhem, bedlam etc. Basically what I’m trying to say it’s a mess. Ok this image may be a slight over exaggeration but you get the idea. I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to do extensive internal linking but it just doesn’t work! Rankings actually drop, especially if you try and make a few pages the focal point of the majority of internal links.

So what has the underground taught us about internal linking, if the underground was a website?

  • Make internal links natural and for the user not for SEO
  • Don’t overdo it, or it looks unnatural and confusing for anyone.
  • The main pages of your website need more links, the main reason for this is because they are more popular
  • The smaller pages should only have on average two links and they link to highly relevant pages.

OK, so there is no evidence creating internal links for your website like the underground is beneficial for your SEO. However take it from me; crazily the underground has it spot on. Two internal links at most for a small page is an industry standard whilst larger pages are allowed more. Also making the internal linking as simple and clean as possible is essential, especially for the user journey.

So to conclude, when somebody does ask, how many internal links a website should have, highlight enough for the user journey and nothing more, if it really gets out of hand point then point them to London and then direct them to the underground.

If you do have any questions, please feel free to comment and thank you for the time in reading this. I hope it helps!