The Complete Guide to Internal Linking

Dishant BhattWritten by Dishant Bhatt|Last updated: 2 July 2024

In this internal linking guide, we’ll explore the best practices and provide you with actionable tips to upgrade your internal linking strategy, ultimately leading to more traffic on your website.

  • The Basics of Internal Linking
  • Internal Linking Best Practices
  • Advanced Internal Linking Strategies
  • Measuring and Monitoring Internal Linking Success
  • Fix internal link issues
  • Build internal links between all your sites

Internal linking is key to increasing visibility and success for content. Often, publishers and agencies see promotion as a separate task, not part of their main duties. However, they can make a significant impact on promotion by using effective internal linking strategies.

By incorporating careful internal linking tactics, content can rank higher and faster than it would without those links.


What is Internal Link and its Benefits for SEO


Internal links are hyperlinks that take users from one page on a website to another page on the same domain.

Internal linking is crucial for SEO because it transfers PageRank while also leaving users with a positive search experience on your site. Plus, you have complete control over creating links within your website.

Here is a brief overview of the benefits of internal linking for SEO:

  • Better crawling and indexing: Internal linking helps search engines find and index your content more easily. By following links, search engines can determine the relationship between your pages and understand which pages cover similar subjects.
  • Improved user experience: By using internal links, you can guide your visitors to your most important pages and keep them engaged on your website longer. This leads to more page views, longer session duration, and lower bounce rates, all of which are positive signals for SEO.
  • Increased page authority: If a page or post gets a lot of internal links, it signals to search engines that it’s an essential or high-value piece of content. This can lead to higher rankings and more visibility in search results.
  • Enhanced link value: Internal linking passes link value between pages on your website, which can help your newer or less established pages gain more authority and rank faster.


Types of Internal Links


There are several types of internal links that can improve the user experience and SEO of your website. Each link type serves its purpose while guiding visitors through a website and helping search engines understand the site’s structure and hierarchy.

Here are some of the most common ones:


1. Navigational Links

Navigational links are site-wide links that help users navigate through your website. They appear in your header menu in the form of text or picture icons. Navigational links define the structure of your site and typically include links to pages like the ‘About us’ page or a landing page with a call-to-action.

navigational links example image


2. Contextual Links

Contextual links are your content links pointing to related articles and topics. They help to link your pages internally, encouraging users to read more and stay longer on your site.

contextual links

This reduces the bounce rate and increases user engagement.


3. Bookmarks

Bookmarks are internal links that refer to a specific section on a given page, also known as named anchors or anchor links. They are helpful for easy navigation around bulky pages, allowing users to switch quickly between the contents and the referred section.


4. Next/Prev Links

Rel=next and rel=prev indicate that the current page is one in a series and push the user to switch over.

Illustration of next-prev links

Next/Previous links can be helpful for other search engines, but Google recommends arranging every page within a series so that it is more or less self-sufficient on its own.


5. Help Links

Help links are a good place for contextual links that lead to context-specific resources with useful information related to the topic of the source page. For example, a page can contain a link to an FAQ page or a support article.

Help links can be placed in various locations on the website, such as the navigation menu, footer, or within the content itself. They should be labeled clearly and placed in a prominent location so users can easily find and access them.


6. Author Links

Adding the author attribute indicates that the page is an author’s profile, giving your content more credibility.

We also prepared a dedicated article explaining a toe-to-toe comparison between internal links and external links.


Click Depth and its Impact on SEO


What is click depth, and why is it important here?

Click depth is a term that describes the number of clicks required to reach a specific page on a website from the homepage. And it is crucial for both search engines as well as website visitors.

The higher the click depth, the more difficult it is for search engines to find and index the page. This can negatively impact the page’s search engine ranking as search engines prefer pages that are easily accessible and have a low click depth.

Here’s how click depth works:

Illustration explaining how click depth works on a website

Additionally, a high click depth can also result in poor user experience as it may take too much time and effort for users to reach their desired page. This can increase the bounce rate, indicating that users are leaving the site quickly without engaging with the content. As a result, the site’s overall engagement metrics may suffer, including time on site and pages per session.

To optimize click depth:

  • Ensure the website’s structure is designed with search engines and users in mind.
  • Create a clear and organized website hierarchy with limited clicks required to reach important pages.
  • Implement breadcrumbs and internal linking to reduce the click depth.


Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are website navigation that shows users the path they’ve taken to arrive at the current page. They appear as a trail of links, typically located at the top of the page, representing the page hierarchy.

This can reduce the click depth and make it easier for users to navigate your site, especially if you have a large website with multiple categories and subcategories.

Source: Hubspot


Link Equity and its Relation With Internal Linking


Link equity, also known as link juice, refers to the value or authority passed from one web page to another through links. The more inbound links a page has, the more link equity it receives, and the more likely it is to rank higher in search engine results.

Link juice determines the importance and relevance of each page on your website. By linking from a high-authority page to a lower-authority page, you can pass on some of that authority and help the lower-authority page rank better in search results.

However, not all internal links are created equal.

For example, pages that are linked more frequently from high-authority pages will receive more link equity than pages that are only linked to low-authority pages. Additionally, the anchor text used in the link can also impact link equity distribution.

Another factor that affects link equity or PageRank is the number of internal links on the page. More internal links means all the linked URLs will all share from the link juice of the source page.

Having a well-structured internal linking strategy that focuses on linking to essential pages from high-authority pages using relevant anchor text is important. This way, you can distribute link equity throughout your website and improve the overall SEO of your site.


Three Internal Link Building Practices You Should Avoid

Not all internal linking practices are made equal. While some are harmless, others may have a detrimental impact to your internal linking efforts.

We have curated a dedicated list of internal linking best practices to assist you in boosting your internal linking journey.

Below are examples of internal link practices you must avoid at all costs!


1. Avoid too much exact match anchor texts

The importance of anchor text in SEO can never be overstated. However, not all anchor texts pose the same benefits for internal links.

Exact match anchor text refers to the practice of using the exact keyword phrase you are targeting as the anchor text of a link. This used to be a popular tactic for improving search engine rankings, but search engines have since become more sophisticated and penalize websites that use this technique excessively.

Using exact match anchor text too frequently can make your links appear unnatural and lead to a penalty from search engines like Google. If all the internal links pointing to a page use the exact same anchor text, it can appear to search engines that the page is being artificially boosted for that keyword.

Using some exact match anchor texts is still relevant and considered beneficial. However, you should mix the words with other anchor texts.

In this example, the anchor text ‘Website Authority Checker Checker’ takes the reader to an SEO tool that checks a website’s authority. Here, using these words is advised. While the anchor text ‘Competitor backlinks’ takes the user to a blog page titled ‘Find Competitor Backlinks to do Link-building.’

Avoid using the exact anchor text for all internal links, as it makes it difficult for search engines to understand the context and relevance of the linked pages. Instead, varied and descriptive anchor text for internal links can help provide more information to search engines with a better user experience.


2. Avoid using generic phrases

When creating anchor text, choosing a language relevant to the content on the linked page is crucial. Avoid using generic phrases like “click here” or “read more,” as they don’t provide any context.

Instead, the best anchor text practice is using descriptive phrases and long-tail keywords that accurately describe the content of the linked page, such as “learn more about our services” or “read our latest blog post on SEO.”


3. Don’t link entire paragpraphs

While it’s important to include internal links throughout your content, it’s important to do so in a way that doesn’t disrupt the user experience.

Linking an entire paragraph can make reading difficult and overwhelm the user.

Instead, choose a few key phrases or words within the paragraph that are relevant to the linked page and hyperlink those instead.

This will make your links more targeted and effective.


Link Building Strategies and Internal Linking Best Practices


Want to elevate your site’s internal linking? Let’s review key tips and strategies for effective internal linking on your website.


1. Getting a complete picture of your internal linking

This is one of the more essential parts to ensure your website’s SEO strategy is optimized for success. With a comprehensive understanding of your internal linking structure, you can identify areas where links are missing, analyze the performance of existing links, and determine whether any issues need to be addressed.

Linkstorm allows users to visualize their internal linking structure, making it easy to see where improvements can be made. Using the tool to identify underperforming pages, users can optimize their internal linking structure and improve their website’s overall SEO performance.


2. Finding new internal link opportunities

Managing internal linking can become more complicated as a website’s content increases. It can be challenging and time-consuming to find new internal linking opportunities that will keep the site well-connected.

Linkstorm suggests relevant internal links to add between all your pages, helping to improve your website’s overall internal linking structure. By analyzing your website’s content, Linkstorm can suggest specific pages to link to, as well as anchor text recommendations.

The tool does this via two algorithms:

Semantic Similarity: LinkStorm uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand the content and context of a web page. The tool then connects contextually relevant web pages with intelligent internal link suggestions using semantic analysis.

Link Opportunities Screenshot

Semantic Similarity is LinkStorm’s banner algorithm. It helps uncover internal linking opportunities that are not obvious or easy-to-spot. In other words, Semantic Similarity is essential to find keywords would have most likely been buried in hindsight.

Content Matching: In addition to searching for semantic similarity in your content, Linkstorm also analyzes the content of your website to find matching content. The tool can then suggest linking opportunities between web pages that contain seed keywords.

Content Matching is the more straightforward since no internal link suggestions can be given if pages lang matching seed keywords. On the other hand, Semantic Similarity is more perceptive, finding relevant connections beyond content.


3. Optimizing Your Internal Link Anchors

As your site grows, it becomes increasingly important to track the anchors used in your internal linking. Linkstorm helps website owners monitor and manage the anchors used in their internal linking.

Anchor Screenshot

Linkstorm makes it easy to identify which anchors may be under-optimized or over-optimized.


4. Building Internal Links Across Websites

Building internal links between all your sites is an important step in creating a cohesive network of pages that can strengthen your website’s overall SEO. By linking pages between different domains, you can help to establish your website as an authority in your niche and improve your visibility in search engine results.

Let’s say you own three different blogs in the cooking, gardening, and pet care niches. By linking between relevant posts on each blog, you can create a network of related content that provides value to your readers and helps boost the authority and visibility of each blog.

For instance, you could link from a post about growing herbs on your gardening blog to a recipe that uses fresh herbs on your cooking blog or from a post about pet-friendly plants on your pet care blog to a post about gardening tips on your gardening blog.

The key is ensuring the links are relevant and add value to the user experience rather than simply trying to manipulate search rankings.


5. Link Old and New Content

Every time you publish a new piece of content, the click depth of old pages increase. Therefore, it is a good practice to comb your old content to search for opportunities to link to this new page. However, this can quickly become a frustrating and time-consuming experience as your website becomes more extensive.

Let’s say a website has recently published an article on the latest smartphones in the market. However, they have previously published an article on the best smartphones of 2022. To link these two articles, the author could add an internal link in the new article that directs readers to the older article. This allows readers to easily access related information and helps search engines understand the context and relevance of the content.

Link Opportunities Screenshot with Highlights - Semantic Similarity

Linkstorm can assist with this process by suggesting where to place the internal links between low click-depth to high-click depth pages for optimal effect. This saves time and effort for the website owner or content creator while also helping to ensure that the internal linking structure is effective and supports both SEO and user experience goals.


How to Fix Internal Link Issues


Fixing internal link issues is an important aspect of maintaining good SEO practices. Linkstorm can help identify various types of internal link errors and provide users with the necessary guidance to fix them.

We have a dedicated article on internal linking mistakes if you’re interested to learn more.

Some common internal link issues include:


Broken Links

Broken links are links that lead to pages that no longer exist or have been moved. Linkstorm identifies any links on your website that are no longer working. To fix broken links, you can either update the URL or remove the link altogether.

Issues Tab Screenshot with Highlights


Nofollow Links

Nofollow links are hyperlinks that are qualified with a rel=’nofollow’ attribute. This tells search engine crawlers to not enter the link and crawl the attached web page. Unfortunately, nofollow links do not transfer any link juice from the source to the target page, limiting the page from maximizing its SEO value.

Issues Tab Screenshot with Highlights - Nofollow


Redirects

Redirects, or HTTP redirect codes, are solutions to send users to a different URL from what is initially requested.

This is done when the original destination no longer exists to prevent users from accessing the page. However, there are instances when errors arise with redirects, potentially giving users a poor experience in their search journey. Infinite redirects also occur when two or more URLs on a website redirect to each other in a loop, creating an endless cycle of redirects.

Linkstorm can help detect redirects found on your website, so you can resolve them via your CMS provider.

Issues Tab Screenshot with Highlights - Redirects


Conclusion


Internal linking greatly impacts the visibility and ranking of your website on search engines. It is an essential aspect of SEO that can help search engines find, understand, and rank your content more effectively. By implementing a smart internal linking strategy, you can improve your website’s crawlability, user experience, and page authority, leading to better visibility and traffic in search results.

With the help of Linkstorm, implementing effective internal linking strategies can be made easier and more efficient. So, if you want to improve your website’s SEO and enhance the user experience, it’s time to start incorporating internal linking strategies into your site’s architecture.

Sign up for Linkstorm today and take the first step towards optimizing your internal linking for better search engine rankings and user engagement.


Glossary


Backlink: This type of link directs a user to your website from another domain. Backlinks can be built in various ways, such as through guest posts or podcast features.

Internal link: This type of link connects two pages within your website. It is written in HTML form and usually looks like this: [ <a href=”mywebsite.com/blog”>Read our blog</a> ]. Internal links create a navigation map for your website’s visitors and search engine crawlers to help them find relevant pages.

External link: An external link directs a user to another website, taking them away from your website. For instance, if you publish a guide to Slack on your website, you might include an external link to Slack’s features page.

Click depth: This refers to the number of clicks it takes to reach a page on your website from the home page. The lower the click depth, the better, as it signals to search engines that the page is important and should be ranked higher.

Anchor text: This refers to the visible words that link to the internal page.

SEO juice/link equity: This refers to a search engine ranking factor that is distributed through internal links. Pages pass “link juice” from one high-value page to another. The CheiRank algorithm plays a role in this process, which is how Google determines the importance of a page based on the quality and quantity of its outgoing links.

No-Follow Link: A no-follow link is a hyperlink that has a no-follow tag applied to it. This tag tells search engines not to follow the link or pass any link juice.

Do-Follow Link: A do-follow link is a hyperlink that does not have a no-follow tag applied to it. This means that search engines follow the link and pass link juice from one website to another.

Domain Authority: Domain Authority (DA) is a metric developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). It is based on factors such as the number and quality of backlinks a website has.

Page Authority: Page Authority (PA) is a metric developed by Moz that predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). It is based on factors such as the number and quality of backlinks to the page.

Broken Link: A broken link is a hyperlink that no longer works. It can occur when a website is taken down or when a page is moved without being redirected.

Outreach: Outreach is the process of reaching out to other website owners or bloggers to request a backlink or to establish a relationship that could lead to a backlink. It is a common tactic in link building.

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