If you ask me, which is my favorite onpage SEO technique – it’s “internal linking”.
Yes, you heard it right.
It’s my favorite for a reason.
It works like a charm.
It doesn’t matter if your website is old or new.
It simply works.
In this post, I will help you step-by-step on laying out a proper internal linking strategy for your website.
In this guide, you'll learn
- 1 What is internal linking?
- 2 Benefits of internal linking
- 3 How to do internal linking for SEO?
- 4 Sending link juice to money pages
- 5 How to improve existing internal links?
- 6 Wrapping up
Simply said, internal linking is the process of internally linking relevant pages on your website together.
On your blog, the links between related posts are called internal links.
The posts that you interlink to should be relevant to the post you are writing on.
It’s not just about linking blog posts together.
These are certain strategies and processes that you need to keep in mind before starting internally linking relevant content on your website/blog.
So, why do websites internally add links to their other relevant content? There must be some benefits, right?
I will discuss with you some of the benefits of internal linking.
Improves user experience: People find it very easy to find relevant information to explore further on your site. The internal links aid them greatly in their research process, as they find across other related articles when they are reading the articles.
Improves user engagement: Good user experience comes with good user engagement. When users stick longer on your site and explore your site further by clicking on your internal links, it results in lower bounce rate and longer page visit duration.
When readers will be sticking around longer on your site, Google can easily determine that your content quality is high and further boost your rankings in search engine results.
Website architecture: With the proper internal linking structure in place, you ’ll have a clear website architecture/hierarchy.
This will further help you in your SEO efforts. I will discuss this later in this blog post, under the “silo structure” concept.
Distributes link juice: Internal links help you to uniformly spread the link juice on your site, and overall increase the domain and page authorities of your site.
It helps you get more out of your link building efforts.
Along with this, you also need to remember that the internal links that appear at the top of the webpage receive relatively more link juice than the links present at the bottom of the page.
So, link out to the most important articles in the first paragraphs of your article by making the point across.
Effective Crawling: Search engines like Google can effectively crawl your site and also easily determine the topical relationship between the various blog posts on your site.
You need to internally link old blog posts to newly published articles on your site, it helps to speed up the blog post indexation process. This is one of the most underutilized strategies.
Once you publish
There are various ways to add internal links. You can add the links to your content using HTML, manually using the hyperlinking feature, using auto-linking plugins or using the related posts plugin.
You need to do this internal linking process:
- While writing any blog post, internally link to any of your posts as needed and when relevant.
- After publishing a new blog post, head over to old blog posts and link to it for speeding up the new blog post’s indexation.
I highly suggest you do manual interlinking, as you’ll have more control when it comes to link placement, anchor text, and also creating a context.
People typically follow either of these techniques while doing internal linking:
- Keyword-based internal linking
- Topical-based internal linking
This is the most straightforward process of internal linking. I recommend it for most of the people to get a great boost in their search traffic.
In this guide, I assume that you already have a site with content on it. How you need to add internal links to it.
In order to find the blog posts where you can add internal links, you need to make use of Google’s site modifier.
For an example, let me consider that I have a blog post on “LSI keywords”. Now I need to find other blog posts, where I can add links to my above post.
As you can see, I’ve used the query – “site:example.com” with the keyword in front of it, to return all the other blog posts on my site which mention the term LSI in it. So now, I can go ahead to those blog posts and interlink to my blog post on “LSI keywords”.
Note: You can also use your site’s functionality for this, but I prefer Google search as it also matches synonymous keywords (keywords with the same meaning) too. So, it covers more internal linking opportunities”
If you need to implement proper internal link structure on your site, you need to first have a proper topical structure for your site.
In this kind of internal linking, you need to create clusters of topically relevant articles on your blog, then only you’ll be able to create a good internal linking structure.
You need to have a pillar/silo pages around each of the topic your website deals with. Under these silo pages, you need to have a cluster of topically relevant articles.
Suppose if you have a website on fitness, you can create silos around:
- So on.
And create supportive articles under each of these above topics/silos.
The silo page should internally link to all the cluster of articles that comes under it. The articles under a cluster should internally link to each other.
The articles of one cluster should not link to articles of another cluster/topic, no matter how strong the context turns out to be.
Here the majority of the backlinks you build will be to silo/pillar pages, and then the link juice from these flow to the internal cluster posts under them.
The anchor texts that you use for internal links should be natural to the readers to click on for exploring more on your blog.
The Google Penguin algorithm is strict when it comes to usage of exact-match anchor texts when it comes to backlinks. However, many webmasters confused it to be for internal links.
You can use exact keyword in your anchor texts when it comes to internal links.
Sometimes, when an exact match is not possible, you can also use LSI keywords in the anchor texts of the internal links.
Suppose if the keyword is around travel pillows, you can use these kinds of variations in anchor texts.
- Best travel pillows
- Best pillows for travelling
- Travel-friendly pillows
- Pillows for travel
- Pillows for commuting
- Pillows for journeys
So how to find these kinds of keywords?
Just Google your seed keyword.
The Google suggests you some of the related search queries, and these are called related or LSI keywords.
Google can easily identify these above terms mean the same, and in most of the cases give you the same benefit as if you have used exact match keyword anchor text in internal links.
You can also make use of tools like SEMrush for this.
These are some of the related or LSI terms you can include in anchor texts of your internal links, to help your content rank for a wider range of related search queries.
You should always
Topical relevance between your related posts will not be built when it comes to nofollowing internal links.
If you have the habit nofollowing internal links in your blog posts, none of the internal linking benefits I mention in this blog post are applicable to you.
In WordPress block editor, you can easily do it by adding the following rel=”nofollow” code in the code editor.
Also, it’s very important to open the internal links in new tab, to prevent the readers from being distracted reading the current blog post when they click on them.
In-content: Having internal links to your related posts within the blog posts’ content are called contextual links. They are the strongest ones as Google can accurately make out of the context in which you are linking to your related post.
Also, pay some attention to the text surrounding the internal links, make sure that it contains LSI keywords related to the topic you’re linking to.
Navigation bar: You can also consider including links to your most important pages along with about me, contact, and other pages. But don’t overdo it.
If you own an ecommerce store, read this case study published in 2012 that certainly is relevant today. According to it, an ecommerce site had 170 links in the navigation bar. They deleted 70 of those links. Due to this, the site saw a substantial increase in rankings and traffic.
The bottomline is that each link dilutes the juice that is flowed to the links already in place. So, consider limiting your global internal links.
In the same time, you need to also remember that in order to flow the link juice uniformly throughout your website, no page on your website should be three hops away from each other. This was explained by Rand Fishkin at Whiteboard Friday.
Footer bar: In the footer bar, you can try linking to some of the money posts you’re willing to rank. It has worked well for the guys at NinjaOutreach, which I’ll explain in the below section.
Sidebar: You can include popular posts or recent posts widgets in the sidebar. Including the recent posts widget in the sidebar will speed up the new post indexation process.
There’s no rule that you need to have “this” many number of internal links.
However, going overboard when it comes to internal linking can hurt user-experience and engagement – they would feel overwhelmed.
My rule is to add 1 internal link every 100 words of my content.
However, if you don’t have enough posts on your blog, it may differ. But, I would avoid going beyond this number.
Instead of asking “How many internal links for SEO?” you need to ask – “How many internal links, if I add in this post, will enhance user-experience?”.
Add the internal links only where you feel that users need some other resource to explore further or fill the missing content gap.
Many novice bloggers ask me, “What’s the best way to build backlinks to money pages?”.
No one would link to commercial pages.
Then how to fix it?
It is by internally linking to money pages through your highly-backlinked pages.
Let me explain this to you.
First, you need to plug in your site’s URL in Ahrefs and pick the posts with most backlinks.
Now, you need to download the list of your highly backlinked articles.
If you don’t have access to Ahrefs, you can make use of your Google search console.
After getting the list of highly backlinked articles, you need to make a list of money posts that you want to rank for.
Now print out the highly backlinked articles and also money posts you want to rank. Put them side-by-side for analysis.
If any of these blog posts are relevant, you can straightaway add the internal links to money posts.
In some cases, you need to create contexts in those popular pages to link to money pages. You can create this context by adding a new section to your most backlinked pages that make internal linking to money posts natural.
A case study by NinjaOutreach is a great example of this. They increased 50% of their organic traffic due to strategic internal linking.
Below are the steps they followed:
- They prepared a spreadsheet containing all the posts on their blog
- They assigned each post a goal value (money-making power)
- Tagged posts tier 1, 2, and 3 based on their goal value – most money-making posts in tier 1 and low-ranking posts in tier 3
- They internally linked to tier 1 in the best positions like in the navigation bar and also the footer
- They linked to tier 2 posts from tier 1 posts, and tier 3 from tier 2.
As a result of doing this, they increased their traffic by 50% in 3-4 months.
Are there any changes I can recommend to your existing internal links?
These are the two changes you can make.
- Optimize the internal links’ anchor text for SEO
- Optimize them for more clicks
But first, you need an easy way to figure out what internal links to optimize by checking the clicks they are receiving and also the presence of keywords.
You can check the clicks made on all your internal links using Google Tag Manager, follow the tutorial below.
Seems little tough?
As an alternative, you can use a good WordPress plugin like Interlinks Manager. It comes with analytics and other great features.
Now you need to determine which of your internal links are getting less clicks.
You need to head over to those internal links, and consider optimizing the anchor texts to get more clicks by changing the position, changing the text around it, provoking curiosity, etc.
You can also consider tweaking the anchor texts of some internal links to include the keyword in it. For this, you also may need to tweak the text around it to make the anchor text natural.
Internal linking is one of the most underutilized technique when it comes to onpage SEO.
Tracking properly how your internal links are performing, what posts are linking to what posts, anchor texts, and optimizing them periodically is very important.
Don’t go blindly behind SEO when it comes to internal linking, keep user experience also in mind.
Once you implement proper internal linking structure on your blog, you can’t expect the search traffic boost to happen overnight or in a couple days.
It’s essential for you to wait for at least 2-3 months to notice the increase in organic traffic.
Hope you guys found this post on internal links for SEO useful.