SEO

Internal Linking for SEO: An Actionable 10-Step Guide

Internal linking for SEO is like a clock tower.

Many marvel at the grandeur of the clock’s face (backlinks). Yet, the internal gears (internal links) work tirelessly behind the scenes for a smooth flow. And that’s why it’s crucial to know how to do internal linking for SEO.

Internal links between pages on your site provide a better UX and help search engines understand your site architecture.

Now, every site owner longs to rank higher in Google. Crushing internal linking is one way to get there.

So, buckle up and learn the best practices to help improve your site’s internal linking strategy.

Let’s dive in.

What Are Internal Links?

Internal links are hyperlinks that send readers from one page on your website to another one on the same website. Essentially, they link different pages of your website to ensure that your visitors don’t leave your site.

You can either place internal links as bare links or embed them on suitable anchors. The latter is the preferred approach.

Benefits of Using Internal Links for Website Optimization

You might now be wondering why you should use internal links on your website in the first place. Well, here’s why they’re critical for your SEO success:

  • Improve site navigation by helping users easily navigate between related content on your site.
  • Support your SEO and ranking goals by increasing time on site.
  • Pass link juice from one page to another, boosting the rankings abilities of linked pages.
  • Reduce bounce rates as visitors will check multiple pages of your website instead of moving away from the first one.
  • Help search engines find, crawl, and understand your web pages with ease.
  • Improve UX by providing relevant reading materials.

With that cleared out, let’s now take a look at how you can get internal linking right to maximize its benefits.

10 Best Practices for Internal Linking for SEO

Here are 10 best practices that will help you improve your SEO, boost your UX, and more. You can combine these strategies with tools like Semrush and Ahrefs to speed things up.

1. Create Core Pillar Pages for Linking

A key internal linking for SEO strategy is creating pillar pages that can serve as hubs for your website content and internal linking. These are essentially cornerstone pages that provide value with in-depth content on broader topics.

Typically, these pages tend to be pretty comprehensive in terms of content and its length.

To create pillar pages:

  • Look for high search volume keywords rather than long-tail.
  • Create content around the broad topic and make it comprehensive.
  • Make sure you use numerous long-tail keywords in the page too.

For example, laser engraving machines would be a strategic pillar page on Alibaba. After all, the keyword ‘laser engraving machine’ receives over 22k monthly searches.

When you first create pillar pages, you won’t have much to add in terms of internal links. But this page essentially serves as a hub from which you can add internal links to various other pages and vice-versa.

2. Create Link Pathways with Topic Clusters

With your pillar pages ready, develop supportive topic clusters—supplementary subtopics.

In the case of “laser engraving machines,” clusters might include “laser engraving machine brands,” “what is laser engraving?” or “applications of laser engraving.”

These topic clusters should link back to the main pillar page to indicate topical relevance. Similarly, the pillar page should link to them as well.

This way the pillar page becomes the authoritative hub. The numerous internal links will also help you rank it higher, even with its competitive keywords.

Here’s how you can create topic clusters:

  1. Launch keyword generator on Ahrefs.
  2. Enter your primary search term and Ahrefs will list numerous content cluster ideas.

Image via Ahrefs

Once you’ve found these topics, you can start creating content on them. Make sure you add internal links to your pillar page in these posts. Also, go back to our pillar pages and link to the cluster posts.

This can help you build a strong internal link structure. It also helps search engine crawling and reinforces your site's topical authority.

3. Use Descriptive Anchor Text

Anchor text is essentially the clickable text on which the internal link is embedded. You have to be strategic about your anchor text as it can tell visitors and search engines about the content of the page that’s been linked.

In the past, internal links were often added on generic anchor text like “click here,” “read more,” or “download here.”

But these don't offer useful context.

Readers want insight into what information they'll find after clicking the link.

Take a look at this anchor text, for instance. It describes that the link leads to content related to video making.

Image via Attrock

This anchor text provides little breadcrumbs enticing click-throughs from visitors.

Here are some best practices for creating anchor texts:

  • Keep them short (five words or less)
  • Use relevant keywords from target link
  • Customize the description instead of using the same text

4. Link from High-Value Pages

Not all pages are made equal.

Some are high rollers that can make or break your business. They bring in most of your website traffic.

Now, here’s the game plan.

Identify several important pages with high authority and internally link from them. It’ll help you pass value from them to other pages and indicate their importance.

It's like a vote of confidence, saying, “This page is the real deal!”

Use tools like Google Search Console, Semrush, and Ahrefs to determine high-value internal pages. From the list of your website’s pages, look for ones that are driving maximum traffic to your site. These are the ones that you should be targeting.

Linking from high-value pages passes link authority to the rest, boosting their ranking in the SERPs.

5. Use Internal Link-Building Tools

Internal link-building tools are like your website’s personal assistant.

They crawl your site, flagging opportunities to enhance your internal linking game. Use SEO audit tools like Google Search Console, SEOPress, and LinkStorm to help you build internal links by:

  • Auditing current internal links
  • Prioritizing high-value target pages for links
  • Generating keyword-rich anchor text
  • Fixing identified broken internal links
  • Enforcing internal linking best practices

Using these tools makes your life easy and ensures that you don’t end up with broken links or orphan pages (ones without any internal link pointing to them).

For instance, with LinkStorm, you’ll get a report like this one indicating the source page, anchor text suggestions, and target page.

Images via LinkStorm

You can check this LinkStorm review for more insights into this internal link-building tool.

6. Link Early and Visibly in Content

Your website visitors won’t wait long before bouncing. And that’s why it's crucial to position internal links early in your content.

Placing them higher in your content increases the chances of visitors clicking on them instead of bouncing away. It also signals relevancy to the search engines.

The reason is simple.

Visible internal links give readers something intriguing to click on right away. This pulls them into your site instead of bouncing away.

See how NatGeo placed a link early in this post.

Image via NatGeo

That said, don’t go overboard with adding internal links in the first few paragraphs. Instead, judiciously spread them out across the entire post.

7. Implement Nofollow Links Strategically

Nofollow links have a special attribute (rel=”nofollow”) that stops search engines from passing SEO value or indexing the page.

Nofollow attribute is useful for linking low-value pages like login portals, affiliate links, user-generated content, and sponsored or paid links. They’re especially useful if you don’t want them to be indexed by search engines.

This way, their ranking also doesn't dilute overall site strength.

That said, you must use nofollow only for limited pages. Don’t overuse them, else you might end up diluting your SEO efforts.

To find nofollow internal links on your website, use tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, or Majestic. You can create nofollow links by using the rel=nofollow attribute while creating internal links.

You can use the website audit option in Semrush to check link warnings for your website. The nofollows are under the warning tab of the internal link audit report.

Image via Semrush

8. Watch Your Internal Link Counts

How many internal links is too many? Well, according to Google's John Mueller, there's no magic number, but it's crucial to maintain a recognizable structure when crawling the website.

In simple terms, you should use an adequate number of internal links on every page. But don’t overload them.

Putting too many of them on a page might force search engines to consider the page as spam. It may also reduce your crawl budget, which doesn’t augur well for your SEO.

Fortunately, internal link counters like Duplichecker can analyze a web page, and count the links. Here’s a report showing the total number of internal links.

Image via Duplichecker

Keep your page's link count reasonably low to ensure that it doesn’t impact your SEO.

9. Maximize Link Value With Link Juice

Link juice is the SEO power passed between multiple web pages through internal and external links.

Here’s the internal linking and link juice distribution blueprint:

  • Identify crucial site pages and generously distribute link juice to them
  • Designate the most critical pages to receive more link equity
  • Channel authority via internal links to vital web pages
  • Earn external links to increase total link juice

You can check the page authority of your site’s pages and accordingly decide your internal linking strategy to pass on link juice to other pages.

That said, make sure that you only add relevant internal links. Don’t add irrelevant ones for the sake of passing on link juice.

10. Link to Old Evergreen Content With Fresh Links

One smart internal linking tactic for SEO is to rejuvenate outdated evergreen content with new contextual links.

It helps this content remain useful over time. The best type of content for this would be evergreen tutorials and guides.

Over time, search engine crawlers may deprioritize older pages lacking fresh signals of value.

But you can counter this by:

  • Updating old posts with new information
  • Removing or updating any stale facts
  • Adding relevant internal links pointing to newer related pages

This strengthens the internal linking structure between old and new content. It also passes link juice and authority signals from established pages to newer ones needing credibility boosts.

Moreover, it tightens the interconnectedness of your site's overall internal link structure.

FAQs

Q1. What are some common mistakes in internal linking for SEO?

A. Some common mistakes include:

  • Inconsistent linking structure
  • Failing to update anchor text over time as content evolves
  • Using generic or irrelevant anchor text
  • Over-optimizing by stuffing too many links on a page

Q2. What’s the difference between dofollow and nofollow links?

A. Dofollow links pass SEO authority and signals to linked pages. These are links search engine crawlers can follow On the other hand, nofollow links (rel=”nofollow”) tell search engines NOT to crawl them.

Q3. What are the common types of internal links?

A. Some common types of internal links include:

  • Navigational links – found in menus and site headers to help visitors navigate to key pages
  • Contextual links – placed in content bodies
  • Sidebar/widget links – located in sidebars and callout boxes
  • Breadcrumb links – typically appear atop product/article pages to trace visitor paths back to the homepage
  • Footer links – appear at the bottom of the page, like Contact and Privacy Policy.

Q4. Should I prioritize UX or SEO when placing internal links?

A. Both. The best internal linking for SEO strategy balances SEO and UX needs by providing your users with a seamless and enjoyable experience while optimizing for search engines. Find the sweet spot where the two intersect.

Q5. How often should I update my internal links?

A. Regularly. Update internal links as your content evolves to ensure they remain relevant and provide the most current information.

Evolve Your Internal Linking Strategy

There you go.

You've now unlocked the secrets to a successful internal linking strategy that ticks all the right boxes in terms of SEO and UX. Implementing these actionable tips will help you master the art of internal linking for SEO.

Above all, make sure you place a solid emphasis on relevance. You don’t want to be adding irrelevant links for the sake of internal linking. It’s the only way you can succeed at it.

 

Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav Sharma is the Founder and CEO of Attrock, a results-driven digital marketing company. Grew an agency from 5-figure to 7-figure revenue in just two years | 10X leads | 2.8X conversions | 300K organic monthly traffic | 5K keywords on page 1. He also contributes to top publications like HuffPost, Adweek, Business2Community, TechCrunch, and more.

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