How to Perform an Internal Linking Audit
and Improve Your Website’s Performance

Internal linking is a vital aspect of both search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience (UX). By creating a well-structured internal linking system, you can guide users through your website and make it easy for them to find the content they’re looking for. Moreover, internal linking helps search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your website, enabling them to crawl and index your pages more effectively.

From an SEO perspective, internal linking can distribute link equity (also known as “link juice”) throughout your site, ensuring that your most important pages receive the attention they deserve. This can boost the visibility of your content in search engine results and drive more organic traffic to your website.

Overview 

An internal linking audit is a systematic process of evaluating your website’s internal linking structure to identify areas for improvement and potential issues. By performing regular audits, you can ensure that your internal links remain effective, relevant, and aligned with your website’s goals. This, in turn, can enhance the user experience and improve your website’s performance in search engine rankings.

The internal linking audit process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Crawling your website to collect data on internal links
  2. Identifying and fixing broken links
  3. Analyzing anchor text usage
  4. Evaluating link distribution and hierarchy
  5. Optimizing link placement
  6. Monitoring and maintaining your internal linking strategy

In the following sections of the blog, we’ll explore each of these steps in detail, providing actionable tips and guidance to help you optimize your internal linking strategy and improve your website’s overall performance.

Step 1: Crawl Your Website

Importance of crawling your site for a comprehensive view of internal links

Crawling your website involves using a web crawler tool to systematically scan your website and gather information about its pages and internal links. This information can then be analyzed to identify issues and areas for improvement in your internal linking strategy.

The data collected may include URLs, anchor texts, and status codes for each internal link.

By analyzing this data, the website owner can identify broken links, overuse of exact match anchor text, or poor link placement, among other issues. They can then take corrective measures, such as fixing broken links or adjusting anchor text, to improve the effectiveness of their internal linking strategy.

Recommended Internal Link Audit Tools (e.g., Linkstorm)

There are many tools available that can help you crawl your website efficiently.

One of the best options is Linkstorm. It quickly and easily scans your website, gathers data on your internal links, and identifies potential areas for improvement.

Key data points to collect (URLs, anchor texts, status codes)

When crawling your website, ensure you collect the following data points:

  • URLs: List of all internal URLs linked within your site
  • Anchor texts: The clickable text used to link one page to another
  • Status codes: HTTP status codes indicating the status of each link (e.g., 200 for a successful connection, 404 for a broken link, 301 for a permanent redirect)

Step 2: Identify and Fix Broken Links

Impact of broken links on user experience and SEO

Broken links are links on your website that no longer lead to a valid destination, resulting in a 404 error page. They can occur for various reasons, such as changes to your website’s URL structure or removal of content.

From a user experience perspective, broken links can significantly affect the usability of your website. When users click on a broken link, they are redirected to a 404 error page, which can be frustrating and confusing. 

This can lead to a poor user experience and discourage users from staying on your site or returning in the future. Moreover, broken links can make your site appear poorly maintained and unprofessional.

Broken links can also negatively impact your search engine rankings. Google uses complex algorithms to determine the relevance and quality of your website’s content. 

Broken links can be interpreted as a sign of low-quality content, as they suggest that your website is not up-to-date and well-maintained. As a result, search engines may decrease the visibility of your website SERPs, leading to decreased organic traffic and fewer conversions.

To avoid these negative impacts, it is crucial to regularly check your website for broken links and take corrective measures to fix them. LinkStorm scans your website and analyzes your pages looking for any issues with your internal linking, including broken links.

How to locate broken links (404 errors) and redirects (301 or 302)

Using the data collected from LinkStorm, filter the URLs by their status codes to identify broken links (404 errors) and redirects (301 or 302). By pinpointing these issues, you can take the necessary steps to fix them and improve your website’s user experience and SEO.

Tips for fixing broken links (updating URLs, removing links)

To fix broken links, consider the following approaches:

  • Update the target URL to the correct or updated page
  • Remove the link altogether if the target page is no longer relevant or necessary
  • Replace the broken link with an alternative, relevant link from your site or a trusted external source

Step 3: Analyze Anchor Text

Role of anchor text in providing context for users and search engines

Anchor text plays a crucial role in conveying the context of the linked content to both users and search engines. Descriptive and relevant anchor text can help users quickly understand what to expect when clicking a link, while also allowing search engines to better comprehend the connection between pages.

Guidelines for effective anchor text (descriptive, relevant, concise)

When optimizing your anchor text, follow these guidelines:

  • Make it descriptive: Clearly communicate the topic or purpose of the linked page
  • Ensure relevance: Use anchor text that is directly related to the content of the target page
  • Keep it concise: Use short, clear phrases that accurately represent the linked content without being overly lengthy

Examples of good and bad anchor text usage

Good anchor text example: “Learn more about our content marketing services” (descriptive, relevant, and concise)

Bad anchor text example: “Click here” (generic, lacks context, and doesn’t convey the linked content’s purpose)

With Linkstorm’s analytics and insights, you can monitor the effectiveness of your anchor text, helping you refine your internal linking strategy and improve your website’s performance.

Step 4: Evaluate Link Distribution and Hierarchy

Importance of link distribution for website hierarchy and SEO

Proper link distribution is essential for establishing a clear website hierarchy, which helps search engines understand the relationship between your pages and their overall importance within your site’s structure. A well-defined hierarchy can improve your SEO by directing link equity to your most important pages.

Tips for ensuring important pages receive sufficient internal links

  • Create a logical site structure with clear categories and subcategories
  • Ensure your most important pages are easily accessible from your homepage or main navigation menu
  • Regularly review your internal linking structure to identify underlinked pages and adjust accordingly

Techniques for maintaining a clean and organized website structure

Use breadcrumbs to help users navigate your site and understand their current location

Implement a consistent URL structure that reflects your site’s hierarchy

Create a comprehensive HTML sitemap to facilitate navigation and indexing by search engines

Linkstorm can support you in evaluating and optimizing your link distribution and hierarchy, ensuring that your website’s structure is both user-friendly and search-engine-friendly.

Step 5: Optimize Link Placement

Role of link placement in user experience and SEO

The placement of internal links within your website can impact both user experience and SEO. Strategically positioned links can help guide users through your site, encourage them to explore further, and increase engagement. Additionally, search engines may assign greater weight to links placed in prominent locations.

Tips for effective link placement

Position links within high-visibility areas: Place important internal links in areas where users are likely to notice them, such as the main content, navigation menus, or sidebars.

Example: If you have a blog post about “The Benefits of Yoga for Stress Relief,” you might include a highly visible link to your “Top 10 Yoga Poses for Beginners” guide within the main content or sidebar.

Balance links in the content to avoid excessive linking: While it’s important to provide relevant internal links, avoid overloading your content with links, as it can make the content difficult to read and appear spammy to search engines.

Example: In a 1,000-word blog post, including 5-8 relevant internal links is a reasonable approach.

Use contextual links to add value and relevance: Whenever possible, include internal links within the context of your content, making them feel natural and relevant to the topic at hand.

Example: In a blog post about “Healthy Meal Planning,” you could link the phrase “nutrient-dense breakfast options” to a related article about smoothie recipes.

Linkstorm can help you optimize link placement by providing insights from the metrics pulled through the Google search console, giving you a better look at user engagement and link performance, and enabling you to make data-driven decisions.

Step 6: Monitor and Maintain Your Internal Linking Strategy

Importance of regular audits to ensure ongoing effectiveness

As your website grows and evolves, it’s crucial to perform regular internal linking audits to maintain the effectiveness of your internal linking strategy. Regular audits can help you identify new opportunities for improvement, detect potential issues, and ensure your website remains aligned with your objectives.

Tools and techniques for monitoring link performance

Several tools can help you monitor your internal link performance, such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These tools can provide valuable data on user behavior, traffic patterns, and the overall performance of your internal links, enabling you to make informed decisions when optimizing your strategy.

Tips for updating and refining your internal linking strategy based on performance data

  • Analyze user engagement metrics, such as bounce rate, time on page, and click-through rate, to identify underperforming pages
  • Monitor search engine rankings to understand the impact of your internal linking efforts on your website’s visibility
  • Test different link placements, anchor texts, and link types to determine the most effective combinations for your audience

Linkstorm’s comprehensive suite of tools and features can support you in monitoring and maintaining your internal linking strategy, making it easier to identify areas for improvement and address potential issues. By leveraging Linkstorm’s analytics, insights, and link management capabilities, you can streamline the process of optimizing your internal links and ensure the ongoing success of your website’s performance.

Conclusion

Performing an internal linking audit is a crucial ongoing process involving several key steps such as crawling your website, fixing broken links, analyzing anchor text, evaluating link distribution and hierarchy, and optimizing link placement. Regular audits ensure a positive user experience and search engine optimization. 

By following the guidance in this blog post and utilizing powerful tools like Linkstorm, you can enhance your internal linking strategy, resulting in improved website performance, increased organic traffic, higher search engine rankings, and a better overall user experience.

Get a complete picture of your internal linking.
Build relevant links. Fix internal link issues.

Start your free trial and grow your organic traffic by optimizing your internal linking with LinkStorm.

Start your free trial

no credit card required