Internal links are a powerful weapon in any SEOs arsenal.
Not only for SEO purposes, but also for user engagement, experience and relevancy.
Internal linking is something that you (and all webmasters) should excel at.
And you’re probably doing them wrong.
Here’s the kicker:
Many SEO topics can be complicated…
… internal linking should not, and will not, be one of them.
I’m going to show you exactly how to use internal links for SEO and create a web of sticky awesomeness that Google will LOVE.
Law #1: Keep the Number of Links per Page < 100
As I’ve touched on before… user experience is a main ranking factor.
Google wants users to be happy with the results provided. Bombarding visitors with too many links on one page is seen as bad user experience.
After all, how many related pages have you got which the user would find beneficial?
Google Webmaster Guidelines states a “reasonable number”… … Matt Cutts has clarified this statement and recommends less then 100 links per page.
How to Find the Number of Links on a Page
Option 1: Head over to Xenu and click “Download”.
* Xenu’s Link Sleuth finds broken links on your site
Open it up and select File > Check URL.
You’ll see this screen…
Put in your URL and select OK.
Xenu will then crawl your website and the column titled ‘Out Links’ will show the number of links on each page of your site.
Note: Sort by ‘Out Links’ to see the most linked… usually the biggest and most important pages.
Download SEO Spider from Screaming Frog.
Enter your URL and hit Start…
The spider will crawl all pages on your site.
Select the page you want to analyze and the bottom half of your screen will show page specific information.
In terms of internal links, you want the row ‘Outlinks’…
In the example above the page has 14 links pointing to other pages on my site.
To know which pages select ‘Outlinks’ from the bottom tab…
Use Google Webmaster Tools by selecting Search Traffic from the menu on the left, then Internal Links.
Law #2: Link to Your “Money” Pages Most Often
Money pages are elements on your site you eventually want visitors to land on.
More often than not… these are pages which will earn you income.
For example, if I were an SEO agency in Glasgow (my hometown) money pages would be resources to turn visitors into potential clients.
The more internal links pointing to your money pages, the higher authority they will gain within the structure of your website…
… therefore increasing perceived importance and Google ranking.
Take a look at the image below…
Personal injury has the highest importance having 6 internal links, accident claim with 4, medical negligence with 3 etc.
By organizing your internal structure this way, it shows Google and other search engines pages which you deem the most valuable for your visitors…
“The number of internal links pointing to a page is a signal to search engines about the relative importance of that page.”
Use Xeno, SEO Spider or Google Webmaster Tools to determine the amount of links pointing to each page as detailed in Law 1.
Law #3: Don’t Overdo Navigation Links
The links in your navigation should not be primarily linked to from the body of your pages.
These links are most likely on every page of your website.
homepage, about and contact.
It’s common for companies to put a link to their contact page at the bottom of each page for potential customers.
However, this is diluting their website and not taking advantage of internal linking strategy.
Natural internal linking generally occurs deep within your site, such as an old article or post which is relevant to the users’ needs.
Deep links also help to pass authority throughout your whole site, rather than to three or four main pages.
The deeper you link… the more authoritative your domain will be.
Law #4: All Internal Links Should be Do Follow
Following on from Law #3, using internal, deep links will pass juice and authority throughout your whole site.
Making *most* internal links do follow makes sense in order for Google to be able to crawl and determine structure.
There can be an exception when it comes to “useless” pages such a “terms & conditions” page.
Matt Cutts has stated that internal links should be do follow, but it also doesn’t hurt your site to do follow “useless” pages.
Note: If you are going to no follow internal links for the purpose of Google, having these pages set as no index may be useful.
Law #5: Anchor Text is Your Friend When Internal Linking
Using excessive anchor text for external backlinks is not a good idea.
Google is using branded anchor text more and more to establish where you should sit in the SERPs.
When internal linking relevant anchor text should be used in most (if not all) circumstances.
You will not be penalized by Google for using anchor text within you’re own website.
This has been verified by Matt Cutts himself.
Within each page of your site, link to relevant content which will benefit your visitor.
Clever internal linking will increase user satisfaction by providing relevant content, therefore decreasing bounce rate and increasing time spent on site.
This article is in the category on-page SEO, so it would be natural to link to my category page.
Because if visitors are interested in this article… they may very well be interested in my other on-page SEO posts.
Your job is to help them navigate your site easily.
Law #6: Use Authority Pages to Pass Link Juice
Authority pages within your website are usually staples such as Home, About and Contact.
Linking to popular content in these pages can pass a lot of link juice towards inner pages of your site.
Smart bloggers often use their About page to link to relevant content which visitors may be interested in…
… if they’re interested in learning more about them, they may be interested in their more popular content.
The About page of Nerd Fitness is simple brilliant.
Steve uses this page to explain the main focus of his site, and breaks down each section linking to relevant content.
Under ‘Diet’ he links to popular diet related articles, under ‘Fitness’ he links to related content, etc.
Take advantage of staple pages and link to popular content within your site.
Your homepage is probably the highest authority and externally linked to page you have.
Link to important resources within the body of your homepage and avoid linking to pages with less importance from here.
How to Find Authority Pages
To find the highest authority pages I use Ahrefs.
Put in the URL you want to check and on the drop down at the right select ‘Exact URL’…
… And use ‘URL Rating’ to determine authority.
The higher to 100 the more authoritative the page is.
Law #7: Avoid Using the Same Anchor Text for Everything
Internal linking should have flow and be natural.
Therefore avoid using the same anchor text pointing to the same page, all the time.
My article on bounce rate naturally picks up internal links with anchor text like reduce bounce rate, visitor engagement, lower bounce rate, and keep visitors on a page.
However… linking to that article every time I type bounce rate is not going to be the best experience for my visitors.
I’ve linked to that article once above in Law #5, and won’t do so again.
This is why I recommend not using an internal linking plugin, as it can come across as robotic.
Link to relevant articles with your visitors in mind, and don’t overdo it.
Law #8: Confirm Every Page is Linked To
To make sure every page is linked to use SEO Spider.
Put in your URL and let the spider crawl your site.
Then order your page with ‘Title’
These are pages that you will have optimized for Google with a title and meta description.
Click through each page and make sure these is a numeric value for ‘Inlinks’
This shows the amount of internal links pointing to that page.
Moz suggests that millions of web pages are hidden and are inaccessible from search engines due to not being linked to…
… as search engine bots cannot complete search commands.
Law #9: Internal Links in HTML
If you’re not using WordPress, use the following code for internal linking to make sure Googlebot can read it…
<a href=”URL”>ANCHOR TEXT</a>
Law #10: Learn Sensational Internal Linking from Wikipedia
I’d bet my house on you knowing what Wikipedia is.
Wikipedia’s internal linking structure is a massive reason they’re so successful and have so many pages indexed within the Google search engine results page.
By studying any page on Wikipedia…
… you will see lots of blue hyperlinks directing visitors to related content.
Let’s take a look at Wikipedia’s internal linking page.
Each red circle you see is an internal link.
This lets search engines know each one of these pages are related to internal linking; website, domain, webpage and search engine optimisation.
These links pass juice to each page, helping them rank.
Law #11: Use a Broken Internal Link Checker Once a Month
To find broken internal links I use SEO Spider.
Open it up and put in your URL.
At the right hand side navigation, scroll down to ‘Response Codes’ then select ‘Client Error (4xx).
This will show any links which are returning a 404 error.
To see where the link is coming from select ‘Inlinks’ from the bottom navigation.
Easy as pie, right?
Law #12: Don’t Worry Too Much About Your Menu
Menu links have a purpose. (see Law #6)
However visitors spend more time and click on internal links within the body of pages.
Because they take them on a journey and engage them.
“In-page links” show relevant content in line with visitor interest.
Menu links are just a bunch of general, plain links pointing to necessary pages.
Law #13: Don’t Link to the Same Page Within a Page
Let me explain:
I see a lot of websites linking to their homepage within the body of their homepage, especially with a keyword.
In Google’s eyes, it might be okay.
But in light of search becoming more about the user, it makes zero sense.
The visitor is already on the page therefore it doesn’t make senses to say…
“If you like this page, you might like this one!”
Then link to the same page.
Don’t place a link in the body of your page to the same page.
What are your thoughts on internal linking structure? Can you think of any other important factors I’ve missed? Let me & others know in the comments!