Internal Link Building
Internal link building is the act of linking one page on the same website to another for search engine optimization (SEO) and visitor conversion.
Though it appears basic and is often neglected for external link building, when used effectively internal links can have a huge impact on your user experience, SEO success, and ultimately conversions.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of internal link building to your website’s overall performance (SERPs rank and conversions) and the steps to building an effective internal link structure for your domain.
You’ll also learn how to fix common internal link problems like orphan pages, broken links, and irrelevant internal linking.
What is the Goal of Internal Link Building?
Internal link building has 3 primary purposes:
- Internal linking helps visitors and search engine crawlers easily navigate your website to aid user experience and indexing.
- Internal link building spreads link juice and page authority to other pages on your website.
- This process helps to define your website structure (hierarchy and architecture). This is vital for indexation and ranking on search engines.
Internal Link Building Best Practices
Setting up an effective internal linking strategy requires that you adhere to particular best practices. But how you implement these guidelines will depend entirely on your website and specific goals.
That said, before we get started with the how to set up an effective internal linking strategy, you need to ensure the following aspects are covered:
Write A Lot of Supporting Content
Internal link building is all about connecting various relevant pages on your website to each other. To do this you need some form of content on your website to link from and to. So if you don’t yet have much content, that’s the first thing to do. If you are not sure how to write content that ranks, check out our SEO content writing guide.
Create a Content Publishing Schedule
Internal linking requires not just quality links but also an adequate amount of links. For example, a general rule of thumb is that you need 3 to 5 internal links per 2000 words.
So for a 3000-word article, you’d need about 4 – 8 internal links.
If you do not have that number of relevant links for your content, you should create more relevant supporting content on your site.
With the above covered, let’s get started.
Siloing is Number One in Internal Linking
To understand effective internal link building you have to view your website with a hierarchy chart in mind. At the top of the hierarchy chain, is your most visited page.
This can be your homepage or wherever page you get the most visitors to.
Beneath this page is other important pages. Then under these important pages are other ones of lower importance.
These are usually content pages like a typical blog post.
Now while hierarchy is the backbone of your internal link building structure, the quality of your internal link architecture is dependent on the relevance of your links.
This is where siloing comes into play.
The siloing strategy unites related pages (these pages are related by their topics) using internal links.
But this grouping is based on the hierarchy of the topic covered. For example, say you have a website about cars and the various models with the following pages:
- Toyota Camry
- Toyota Corolla
- BMW X5
- BMW X3
What you would do when siloing is separate each page into pages about cars and pages about models of those cars.
Here’s how the pages will look after you silo them:
Under Toyota, you have Toyota Camry and Toyota Corolla. Then under BMW, you would have BMW X5 and BMW X3.
The idea is basically that you organize your pages into a central hub that links to other subpages about related topics.
So you will have a cluster of interrelated pages giving your website some structure.
If you are not sure how to set up your hub, we do offer a content planning service, which will create hub and spoke pages. You can learn more about that here: https://stellarseo.com/on-page-seo-services/
The result of this is that your website visitors can easily find what they’re looking for and that search engine crawler bots can clearly understand what each page is about.
Taking our previous example, if you have a page about the X5, how does the Google crawler know which car brand the model belongs to?
But if it is connected to a central hub for BMW it becomes easier to know that the page is about BMW X5. It’s the context.
The internal link structure clarifies the context of each page.
Just think of it as making the process easier for Google to understand what each page is all about.
Finally, using the silo method to structure your website aids tremendously in transferring the authority of your central hub or important page to other subpages.
This happens because your subpage (BMW X5) is linked back to the Central hub (BMW). It’s just like how backlinks work.
If you get a backlink from a website with a high domain rating and authority, it is way more effective in boosting your ranking than one with a low rating and authority.
Get your Anchor Text Links Right
Internal link building won’t be effective if your anchor text isn’t descriptive and relevant enough.
Just to be sure we mean the same thing, an anchor text is a phrase or word that links to another page on your website or another website. It is a text highlighted in color due to an embedded hyperlink.
Here’s an example:
Now while your internal links must have an anchor text, you can’t just use any phrase or word.
You need to use words that accurately describe the destination of the hyperlink embedded into the text.
Let us have a look at some powerful anchor text examples.
Say you intend to link to a page about the 14 top electric cars in 2022, how you would do it:
“Below are a couple of “popular electric cars” every driver would love. ”
The italicized phrase is where you would embed your hyperlink targeting your page about the 14 top electric cars in 2022.
Or if you intended to link to a page about BMW concept models, you can do it like this:
“Every “BMW future model” is remade to suit the opinion of the public.”
Again, the italicized phrase is where you would embed your hyperlink.
All the above examples associate the topic of your internal link with appropriate phrases.
With that said, there are a couple of things you want to avoid with regard to anchor texts when carrying out internal link building.
First, you do not want to write the exact subject of your destination page as your anchor text.
Instead look at the various terms that you are trying to rank the page for, and use a combination of those within your internal link building strategy.
This will help you rank for more terms and allows you to fit the anchor text more naturally into each page.
Also, you do not want to embed your internal link in more than a single sentence.
This is quite obvious because if you have an entire paragraph hyperlinked it will result in a terrible user experience and simply does not look good.
To avoid this, embed your link to a phrase or a few words as you build internal links.
That said, don’t use words such as click here or tap here.
This is because such phrases do not add any value. You have to ensure that your anchor text is related or associated with the destination page somehow (descriptive).
How to Find the Best Internal Links and Anchor Text
Granted, it may be a bit difficult to get the right anchor text that both users and Google would understand if you’re just starting.
So a simple way to go about this if you already have published content indexed on search engines is to do a site query.
For example, if you have just written a new article about content marketing and you intend to include a couple of internal links to boost that new page’s rank. Here’s how to find a link to use.
There are a bunch of tools you can use for this such as Link Whisper and Yoast SEO. But if you don’t have any of them Google works fine!
To begin you have to use the following search operator:
site: yourwebsite.com “phrase related to your new page”
Here’s an example below for “link building” with Stellar Seo:
Your search will display pages of your website indexed by Google that include the specific phrase used in the operator search.
As the above image shows, the phrase link building is stated in a couple of the blog posts ranked.
You just have to search to see if any of those appearances of the phrase have been linked. If they are unlinked then you can simply embed your new internal links there.
This approach is effective if you have a website with just a couple of pages for each related term.
But if you have a huge website that shows a lot of results for your search then what you have to do is prioritize and only include links from the most powerful pages.
To do this, you’d need a tool and since we use it, Ahrefs SEO Toolbar is a great option for discovering your power pages quickly.
Do not Link Important Pages too Deep
When you find the page that sends you high conversions and brings in good revenue you want to ensure that such pages get adequate link juice from authority pages.
To do so you have to check how deep the page is linked from the page with the highest page rank or authority.
For example, most times the page with the most powerful link juice is your homepage.
So you have to check how deep the particular page that brings in revenue and conversion is linked from it.
How Deep is too Deep in Internal Linking?
You don’t want it to be too much; a general rule of thumb is there shouldn’t be more than 3 clicks from the homepage.
If it is more than 3, the Google crawler will probably identify that page as unimportant since it is linked that deep.
You can use most tools with a site audit function to check for internal link depth. Some great options are SEMRush site audit, Ahrefs site audit, GTmetrix, and Google search console.
Include the Right Number of Internal Links
When you curate and craft new content, you want to add 5 or more internal links to your previous articles.
This is very crucial to your internal link-building process as it ultimately affects how search engines rank and view your content.
Every website possesses a freshness value that search engines particularly Google detect and utilize when determining how to rank a page.
Based on a statement from Google; links from new pages or websites have fresh value.
So by linking old pages using a new link you can increase the rank of the linked pages in the SERPs.
The idea is website users that click through your internal links targeting old pages refresh the previous content since they show it is still relevant.
That said, avoid overstuffing your pages with internal links. Google crawler bots have a limitation of 150 links per page. If it exceeds this they stop.
This means that when you stuff your page with internal links above the expected number it can negatively affect your SEO.
So ensure that you link appropriately as it will help to refresh your old content but do not overdo it.
Boost Pages that want to Rank Competitive Keywords with Power Pages
Every page on your website has an allocated authority from search engines and you have to take advantage of it. To do this you have to discover your power pages.
These pages have a high number of backlinks from authority websites, as well as, the most rating. Using the Ahrefs Site Explorer you can easily discover these pages.
To do so navigate to Site Explorer – Input your website – choose Best by Links
It will show you a list with link metrics that will help you to discover relevant pages that you can add internal links to ensure they get quality link juice.
Now, this method is particularly useful when you have pages that you want to rank in the SERPs for extremely difficult terms like “best chocolate”.
Here’s how to do it.
If you have a power page about chocolate with a huge number of backlinks and high authority, you just have to link to the new page.
The new page looking to rank for best chocolate will get the authority and backlink juice from your other page, boosting the ranking potential of your new content.
Fix Orphan Pages on your Site
An orphan page means that there are no internal links on the particular page.
You don’t want any page like this, as search engines might not find or index the page.
The exception is pages that have external backlinks or are submitted to Google via your site map. Even so, why not add internal links pointing to every page on your site to maximize link equity distribution?
So find orphan pages that do not have internal links and add relevant ones to them. You can use ScreamingFrog to do this. Ahrefs Site Audit tool can also discover orphan pages on your site.
Audit Current Internal Links
So far all the internal links tips above will help you if you have a fresh website but if you don’t, there will be a bit of disorganization in your structure.
This means that you need to audit your current internal links so it doesn’t ruin your efforts as you try to structure.
Broken Internal Links
When you run a site audit using any tool with the feature, the report you get should review every broken internal page on your website.
These links are harmful because they affect user conversion and use-up link equity.
It is counter-intuitive to send a visitor to a particular page only for that page to be broken or show them an error.
This would probably result in a bounce.
So to fix the problem you can either redirect the broken internal link to a new relevant link or check to ensure the link was embedded correctly if the URL is still working.
Most tools with a site audit feature typically let you find the anchor text of the broken link and particular internal link that is broken so you can seamlessly discover and fix or delete them.
Frequently Asked Questions about Internal Links
Is Internal Link Building Important for Search Engine Crawling and Indexing?
Search engines like Google and Bing use the internal link structure of your website to find your newly published content.
Below is a screenshot from a Google documentation that says the crawler bot needs internal links to know your new page exists to index it:
Here’s how it works.
You curate and craft new content. Then you add it to a new page.
But Google doesn’t know that the page exists. Though it is aware of other pages on your website.
So you need to inform the search engine that you have a new page ready to rank.
How do you Inform the Google Crawler of a New Page?
You add internal links that point to your new page.
This is all assuming that your new page does not have any external backlinks and isn’t on the XML sitemap.
Since the goal is to inform Google about your new page, you need to ensure that the search engine crawler gets all the information it needs.
To do that, you have to adequately describe all internal links pointing to the page.
For instance, if your new page is about video marketing then you would want to use a similar term for the anchor text to describe the link.
This way the crawler bot knows what the page is about and what to rank it for.
Does the Quality of Internal Links Matter?
Just like with external backlinks, quality and quantity matter.
How Google ranks that particular page depends on not just the number but the quality of internal links pointing to it.
It’s quite basic, the number and PageRank (quality) of internal links pointing users to a particular page tell the Google algorithm how important that new page is to the topic it covers. And the link anchors describe what the page is all about to Google.
Is Internal Link Building Important for User Conversion?
Internal link building will help search engine users navigate through your website seamlessly.
When you add relevant and related internal links to your content it’ll likely interest your readers to click through for more knowledge.
This helps to boost your website conversion rate.
However, for internal links to have a positive effect on users your anchor texts must be relevant and accurate.
The idea is that with internal links you can keep website visitors longer on your domain. And improve their experience by hand-holding their navigation through your website.
Visitors won’t have to go to the homepage to find relevant content that relates to the one they landed on.
Instead on the page, they’re shown all relevant content to aid their search.
How Many Internal Links Should I Add per Page?
There’s no definite number but the general rule of thumb is 3 to 5 links per 2000 words.
As we already mentioned search engines will not crawl your page if it has over 150 links on it. So don’t go crazy with internal links.
At the start of this guide to internal link building, we mentioned that the process is simple but may appear complex to many.
However, as we have just seen, all that it involves is simply setting up a structure for your site based on hierarchy and ensuring that your internal links adhere to the structure set up.
The idea is that your pages with the most authority are at the head of your hierarchy pyramid and other pages get a slice of their power.
Also, it isn’t all about search engine optimization, your users’ experience matters as well.
You want visitors to be comfortable enough to stay on your website. And the easiest way to ensure this is to make the journey as seamless as possible for them.
People rarely use one source for research so aiding their journey by providing additional relevant content can boost their experience which ultimately affects conversions.
Finally, run a site audit if you don’t have a new site. This will help you to discover the current problems with your internal links and fix them. Without this, every other step fails.