Internal Linking Strategy

There’s no denying it: Internal link building is one of the best SEO strategies out there! Not only does it help Google crawl and index your content more efficiently by directing them through different pages on your site, but it also helps users find your content more strategically with related posts.

internal linking strategy

What is Internal Linking?

An internal link is a hyperlink on a web page that links to another internal page or resource, such as an image, page, or document, on the same website or domain.

What is the purpose of Internal Linking?

Internal Links are used to connect content for readers, improving your website’s usability.

Internal links help Google to understand the most critical pages on your website. Search engines consider pages with lots of internal links to be more important than those with fewer links, and Google uses PageRank to calculate the value of that page, showing them more in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).

The Theory Behind Internal Linking

Internal linking strengthens the overall search-optimized value of a website. Inner linking provides clear paths for spiders, prolonged sessions for users, and a tight-knit network of pages and posts.

You need to know four types of internal links: contextual links, navigational links, footer links, and image links.

  • Contextual links: a type of link found within the body of content that has matching content surrounding the link.
  • Navigational links: a set of site-wide links to keep visitors oriented and make it easier for them to move around.
  • Footer links: a set of site-wide links that appear on nearly every page of a website in the website’s footer.
  • Image links: links that are found attached to an image or graphic. This links out to a linked page and not a larger size of the media.

Steps to an Effective Internal Linking Strategy:

Please follow these steps to improve your site’s structure and up your digital marketing game.

1. Set your Topics

Before you start any optimization, you must ensure you know what you are optimizing for. These could be key performance indicators (KPIs), product pages or services your business relies on, keyword research you find promising, or even personal goals. The goal here is to link to relevant pages within your website.

2. Create a lot of content around those terms

With any link optimization, you will need lots of content to link to. It’s tough to optimize your link strategy with no content to link to. Use keywords that fit your plan and focus your content marketing efforts on improving the SEO score of your website.

3. Identify Important Pages

Identify the pages you want to rank and for people to read; do not link every page equally. You want to signal to Google that these are important pages, and if they are not necessary to you, they will not be important to you or the reader.

4. Silo your content

Silo’ing content is the process of organizing your content into virtual or physical silos. This silo’ing helps users find your content more manageable and helps internet crawlers better understand what your content is about. The process of silo’ing is organizing your similar content together under one parent and subcategories.

In-content links are significant, and this is a part of the Reasonable Surfer Model Google employs to analyze links. This algorithm focuses on where links are on the page and how they are emphasized (bold, italicized, font size) determines the likelihood they will be clicked on versus buried in the footer or sidebar where no one might not see them.

6. Use Effective Anchor Text

When identifying target keywords/topic clusters to hyperlink, make sure they are descriptive and not generic. Instead of having a link read “learn more,” try using “learn more about [topic],” this lowers bounce rates and helps Search Engines understand better what the backlink is about.

No one is going to find your content if it’s more than three clicks deep. Make it easy for readers and Search Engines to find your best new content. We live in the age of convenience; if you don’t offer easy answers or solutions, someone else will. Category pages can naturally improve the click depth and interlinking of your blog posts or e-commerce pages.

Add links where you expect someone to click on them. This means they must be visible (not hidden with CSS, disguised with font colors, etc.) You should add links to keep people engaged; this implies a link could elaborate on a topic, could provide additional information, it could offer a call-to-action or something you’d like the user to perform. Do not use a Plugin that blanket links everything together; this tactic is seen as spammy.

The links you add should be related pages to the anchor text and the reader. Please do not add links you want to rank with zero search intent behind them; this will confuse the reader and search engines. You always need to add relevant content when linking. When bulk updating links, do not automate dead links all to the homepage because it’s easier; that provides a bad user experience.

You want readers to follow your links, so you should wish to Search Engines to follow suit. Make all internal links do follow so crawlers can get a better topography of your site’s architecture. If you use no-follow links, Googlebot might choose not to follow them. It’s ok to use nofollow on external links; be mindful of how you use it.

Do not over-optimize your website links. You want to improve your internal linking structure, not make it more confusing and messy. The goal is to send as much “link juice” as possible to appropriate target pages, so be mindful of the number of internal links you add to your new piece of content to help broaden your link equity.

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but fix broken links or links with too many redirects. Keep the layout flowing as quickly as possible. Every time a link is broken, it adds a layer of latency. It’s also essential to fix 404 links as it stops the reader dead in their tracks and has them start searching for what they were searching for.

13. Identify Orphaned Pages

Orphaned pages are pages with no internal links, and this is bad because no reader will be able to find these pages. You can identify these pages by performing an SEO Audit with SEMrush, Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, Sitebulb, or another SEO Tool.

Every new page on your site does not need to be in your navigation. If you have a lot of content on your site, use landing pages to navigate users to critical areas of your website. This will provide a better user experience and avoid cluttering up your navigation.

15. Use Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) Top Internal Links will show you what Google has found to be your top linked internal pages. You can also use Screaming Frog to identify link placement, link value, and other essential link metrics.

HTML <a> rel Attributes

It is crucial to understand how to properly hyperlink content within your content management system (CMS).

Examples

A link with a rel attribute:

<a rel="nofollow" href="http://example.com/">matt cutts</a>

Attribute Values

ValueDescription
alternateProvides a link to an alternate representation of the document (i.e., print page, translated, or mirror)
authorProvides a link to the author of the document
bookmarkPermanent URL used for bookmarking
externalThis indicates that the referenced document is not part of the same site as the current document
helpProvides a link to a help document
licenseProvides a link to licensing information for the document
nextProvides a link to the next document in the series
nofollowLinks to an unendorsed document, like a paid link.
(“nofollow” is used by Google, to specify that the Google search spider should not follow that link)
noopenerRequires that any browsing context created by following the hyperlink must not have an opener browsing context
noreferrerMakes the referrer unknown. No referer header will be included when the user clicks the hyperlink
prevThe previous document in a selection
searchLinks to a search tool for the document
tagA tag (keyword) for the current document

I hope these steps helped to boost the authority of your pages. If I missed any steps, please let me know in the comments below.

Conclusion

Internal linking is one of the most overlooked aspects of search engine optimization (SEO). When done right, internal links can help improve page rankings for higher-ranking pages linked internally -making them more likely to be seen by Google’s crawlers.

Resources

I’ve compiled a list of resources with guides on implementing internal links in your blog posts, pages, and content.

INTERNAL LINKING
Internal Links for SEO: An Actionable GuideGuideJoshua Hardwick / Ahrefs
Internal Linking for SEO: best practices, strategies, axiomsGuideKevin Indig
Internal Links: A Guide to Building a Strategy that WorksGuideLuke Harsel / SEMrush
Internal Linking GuideGuideBacklinko
Internal Link Optimisation for SEOGuideWayne Barker / Sitebulb
Internal linking for SEO: Why and how?GuideMeike Hendriks / Yoast

Published on: 2021-10-02
Updated on: 2022-01-07

Avatar for Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is the SEO Director at SEO North, a company that provides Search Engine Optimization services. Isaac has considerable expertise in Search Engine Optimization, Server Administration, and Cyber Security, which gives him a leg up as a Google Algorithm Analyst and SEO Expert.