If you want your content to rank higher than that of your competitors, develop a comprehensive search marketing strategy that covers internal links for SEO.
You can’t afford to miss out on simple SEO tactics such as internal linking. In this blog post, I will highlight the importance of internal links, types, mistakes we make, and recommended tools you need to streamline your SEO strategy.
Google finds your content best when you link it to other popular and relevant web pages. When it comes to SEO marketing, link-building is probably one of the most overlooked strategies. We all understand the significance of backlinks or external links. However, we don’t pay due attention to linking your content within your website or blog.
Before we dig deep into the significance, types, and problems related to internal links, let’s quickly explain what it really means when we say internal linking:
What is internal linking?
Moz defines internal linking as: “Internal Links are hyperlinks that point at (target) the same domain as the domain that the link exists on (source)”. In simple words, an internal link is the one that takes readers to another page on the same website. For example, if I add a link to one of my blog posts on this website, it would be an internal link.
An external link, on the other hand, is the one that takes readers to a different website. For instance, a link to the Semrush SEO tool is an external link. Bloggers, marketers, and other businesses are often so focused on external link building that they completely forget to consider internal links for SEO. You should avoid this mistake and add internal linking to your overall SEO strategy.
Significance of internal link for SEO
You might be wondering how internal links can help you with your SEO efforts. To know how internal links improve your SEO health, we need to identify the key benefits of internal linking. For example:
1. Internal linking shows the relationship between content
Internal linking is a vital part of on-page SEO. Why? Because it helps search engines understand your website better. When search engines crawl a website, they crawl by following links both internal and external. This way search engines find out which pages on your site talk about a similar subject matter.
When done right, internal linking is a great way to enable search engines to keep discovering relevant content on your website. Besides, internal links show the relationship between pages on your site or how one page is relevant to another.
However, internal linking requires a set of content pieces that talk about a similar idea. You can’t just connect your web pages for no reason. It should make some sense when you internally connect two pages from both search engines and readers’ standpoints.
2. Gain link value
While establishing the relationship between content, search engines divide link value between all links found on a page. In other words, all links on your homepage will get a share of value. So, for example, your new blog posts will get more value and be found quicker if you link them to your homepage.
Remember, links pass their link value on. The more links you add to a page, the better results you get in terms of SEO and website structure. Take internal linking as a way to pass authority between pages on your website.
Here is another example: if one of your pages has authoritative external links pointing to it, then it represents authority. Now, you can pass on this authority to other pages with internal links. So, it would be a good idea to identify such pages on your site and use their authority to improve your overall SEO health.
3. Internal links for SEO improve user experience
Let’s say someone lands on one of your blog posts. Now, do you want them to read that blog post and leave your site? I know your answer. You want them to check out other great stuff on your site. Now, internal linking is an amazing way to help your visitors discover more relevant content on your site.
For example, if you run a blog on food, a food lover visiting your site may want to check out all of your great content. So, use internal linking to guide your visitors to other pages. This will not only lead to an increase in average time on site but also improve your overall search performance.
These were a few benefits of getting your internal linking right. Let’s move on to the types of internal links to help you figure out which type you should be using.
Types of internal links
Keeping things simple, I am going to highlight two main types of internal links:
As the name suggests, navigational internal links develop the navigational structure of a website. The prime function of a navigational link is to help readers find what they want or looking for. In most cases, people use navigational internal links in the site’s footer, sidebar, or main menu. I have some internal links added to the footer:
These links are essential when it comes to making the customer journey as simple and easy as possible.
2. Contextual internal links
While navigational internal links are used to improve website navigation, contextual internal links are placed within a piece of content. For example, you can see contextual links to relevant content within this blog post. When you add a contextual link to your content, it should make sense for readers.
Adding completely irrelevant or out-of-context links within a page can make things difficult for both readers and search engines. So, be sure to understand the functions of different types of internal links and how they would appear to users and search engines.
Now, it’s time to point out some of the common internal links problems bloggers and website owners face.
Common internal linking issues
We’ve learned so far that, when used the right way, internal links can turn into a goldmine of SEO opportunities. However, people make small mistakes that prevent them from getting the most of their internal linking strategy for SEO. Here are some of the most common mistakes businesses make and how to resolve them:
1. Broken internal links
When it comes to creating a perfect blog or website, you can’t afford to have broken internal links that lead users to nowhere. Broken links send both users and search engines to non-existing pages. When a user clicks on a broken link, they usually end up landing on a 404 page.
To fix this problem, first you need to identify all the broken links on your website and then either remove them or point them to a live page. SEO tools will help you detect all the broken links. We will talk more about the tools you need to fix this problem.
2. Incorrect URL format
Search engines can’t crawl a web page when it has an invalid or incorrect URL. Not sure what is the incorrect URL format? A URL that contains spaces or symbols is called invalid. Google can’t process such URLs. So make sure your URLs are not badly formed or contain invalid characters. Check all the links reported as errors and format them properly.
3. Too much internal links on a page
While you can have as many internal links on the page as you want, try to limit them to 150 or less. Why? Because search engines have a rough crawl limit of 150 links per page. From a user perspective, it’s also a bad practice to overload a page and decreases its usability. Audit any page that contains hundreds or thousands of links: remove those that are unnecessary.
4. Nofollow attributes in internal links
The nofollow attribute in internal links disrupts the Googlebot’s flow through your website. All you need to do is remove the nofollow attribute from any internal links either site-wide or on a link-by-link basis. A nofollow tag may be a good way to tell search bots not to follow specific links.
5. Orphaned pages
Orphan pages are pages that aren’t linked to any other page on your website. Such pages can’t be indexed or crawled. Your website users can’t access those pages unless they know the direct URL. Solution? Identify orphaned pages on your site and add them to your internal linking strategy. Or, you can simply remove them if you don’t want them to be indexed.
6. Too many clicks for users to reach a page
Page depth or the number of clicks users need to reach a specific page can impact your SEO performance. For example, all the pages linked to your homepage are at depth 2. If a user needs more than 3 clicks to reach a page, that page will perform poorly. Therefore, make sure your important pages aren’t too deep to be found easily. To fix this problem, cut down clicks to help your readers get the content they’re looking for quicker.
7. Having only one internal link on a page
It’s not advisable to have one or a few internal links as it leads to missed SEO and UX opportunities. You must internally link your important pages to other relevant content. However, try to keep things natural and simple. As a part of your internal linking efforts, find other relevant pages to link to.
8. Redirect chains
Redirect chains and loops are yet another factor that can impact your SEO performance. Internal links that trigger redirect chains not only make it hard for search engines to crawl but also create a poor user experience. To solve this problem, update internal links and remove intermediary redirects in a chain.
So far, we’ve talked about the importance, types, and problems of internal links for SEO. Let’s quickly review a couple of SEO tools that will help you solve your internal linking problems once and for all and implement a perfect linking strategy.
Recommended tools for your internal linking strategy
Whether you run an old blog website or are about to launch a new one, learn how to audit your website and make it flawless. Auditing a website is a key task for any SEO team since this is the only way to find the problems and improve the overall health of a website. With the help of the right tools, you can have a more thorough understanding of your site’s performance.
Semrush is an incredible SEO tool that makes internal link analysis so much easier and insightful. The internal linking report it produces tells you everything from errors to warnings and performance.
Isn’t it amazing to have all the information on your site’s link structure on one page? When it comes to internal links for SEO, here is what Semrush identifies:
- Broken internal links
- Too many on-page links
- Orphaned sitemap pages
- Pages with only one internal link
- Permanent redirects
- Nofollow attributes in outgoing internal links
- Page crawl depth more than 3 clicks
- Pages passing the most internal LinkRank value
Semrush also generates a graph showing the distribution of internal and external links across your website. You can easily detect weak pages that lack link juice and the value passed from one page to another.
If you’re looking to uplevel your SEO game, consider adding Semrush to your toolkit. Semrush will give you all the data you need to implement a flawless internal linking strategy and improve your on-page and technical SEO.
Other key features
- Keyword research
- On-page SEO
- Competitor analysis
- Local SEO
- Link building
- Rank tracking
- Content optimization
- Content marketing analytics
- Website monetization
- Paid advertising
2. Link Whisper
If you want to take the hard work out of your internal linking efforts, be sure to check out LinkWhisper. It is an amazing WordPress plugin that helps businesses rank better in Google by streamlining your internal link-building process.
Let me give you a quick example of how LinkWhisper makes things so much easier. When you write a blog in your WordPress editor, Link Whisper starts making suggestions on relevant internal links. You don’t have to think about where to add internal links to your content.
If you want to refresh your old blog posts, Link Whisper helps you quickly find old or orphaned content and then add new internal links to those pages. The following are some key features of Link Whisper:
- Smart internal link suggestions
- Fix broken links faster
- Detailed internal links reporting
- Automatic links from keywords of your choice
If you own a site, it’s important for you to ensure your content stays relevant and properly connected. Tools like Link Whisper are here to help you along the process. Easily add links based on suggestions while resolving issues that are hurting your SEO results.
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