Internal linking for improved SEO

Building internal links to increase organic traffic from SEO

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How I help sites with internal linking

When a keyword or phrase is linked to a new page on the same domain, where it appears as the visible text of the hyperlink, this is called an anchor text. Anchors are traditionally underlined or blue and can be seen when your mouse hovers over them.

The anchor links back to the page on which it displays. By doing this, you are making that page more credible and helping Google understand the context of your content in relation to that page. This is also known as internal linking because, in addition to pointing at other pages, these anchors help direct readers from one piece of content on a site (internal link) within your site.

All about internal linking

What are internal links

Internal linking is the idea, that at a very high level,  you create hub pages, and then give Google the signals it needs in order to see those pages as more important.

Addition of silos

It’s worthwhile looking at your website and seeing if you can create strong content silos to further enhance your efforts. In doing this, you would only want to create internal links from within the same content silo.

Topical relevancy

Keep in mind that internal links should remain topical. You wouldn’t want to link from a page about football boots to one about skiing jackets. This is especially important for e-commerce websites where they can carry multiple topics.

How to audit internal links

The first step is to crawl the website. You should really audit your site on a page-by-page basis as this will let you see exactly which internal links (and how many) are coming in. Yes, it’s a bit of a laborious task, but necessary. After all, you will want to know the incoming links for your primary pages – the ones you really want to rank well.

However, it is unlikely that you are going to want to audit every page – remember, this is just for your hub pages – the ones you want to rank for your big money terms.

For this step, I would suggest using Screaming Frog. It does exactly what you want, really easily, but you can use each of the tools mentioned below to also gather data.

What you need to keep in mind while doing this is that the Inbound Links tab in Screaming Frog shows you all inbound links – including the menu and crumb trail. What you’re looking for are the anchors that are coming in from the content.

If you’re interested, you can actually get creative with Screaming Frog and just crawl the content areas of the site using custom extractors. Well worth it if you think it will help your campaign.

But this isn’t always a necessary step so go ahead and fire SF up, run a crawl and then select a page to review. Choose the “Inlinks” tab and then order it by Anchor Text. Just copy and paste this into a spreadsheet.

Now you have the URL’s that link to your chosen page along with the anchors. Continue this step until you have all of the anchors for each of your hub pages.

You will probably use this data a number of times during the whole process. Knowing what is already in place

 

Tools for internal linking

I love to give value to the SEO community and, as an SEO expert, have been instrumental in helping the community massively. So, here’s a list of the tools that I use, and how I use them.

If you could like me to evaluate and work on your internal linking, get in touch using the form at the bottom of the page.

01

ahrefs

A very useful feature called Best by Links is a great place to start and gather information about which are some of the strongest pages on your site.

If you find that none of your content / internal pages has links coming into them, don’t worry because you can use the ‘UR’ (URL Rating) to help gauge the ones you can use.

Tip : Also look at the Top Content report to gather information on the number of referring domains, social shares and social power score.

02

Links Flow in OnCrawl

This incredibly useful report gives you additional data in a similar way to Sitebulb and shows you how your links are currently distributed. Using this, you can see at a glance if there are issues with the way the site is currently linked.

OnCrawl also allows you to see additional reports based on the InRank depth and distribution.

03

Search Console

The Internal Links report in Search Console will tell you exactly how many internal links are pointing to each page on your site.

If there was ever any question about how important this is to Google, then this excerpt was taken directly from Google’s Search Console help pages.

Once you head into Search Console, navigate to the internal Links report.

From here you want to export all of the data into a spreadsheet. You will need all of this, later on, to work out the pages you want to use.

04

Google Analytics

The next data set you will want is from Google Analytics.

Head to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages …

While this step isn’t absolutely necessary, I much prefer to have more data to work with. You will probably find pages that are more heavily used than you realise and could miss out because another report has failed to pick it up.

Set a custom date range (I use 3 months) to get a better idea of how your pages are used over time.

Export the data to be used later.

05

Sitebulb

This is a must for anyone who is serious about understanding their internal linking. Sitebulb offers one of the best visualisation reports around and really lets you understand what is happening with a site.

It starts by crawling your site and then choosing this option below:

When you select this, all kinds of wonderful things happen – you get a complete visualisation of your website.

This is an amazingly useful report that shows you how your site is currently setup. Hovering over each of these points shows you the page details about the number of external links and crawl depth plus lots more.

06

Google Search

Take your website and in the URL bar, type in the following:

site:www.sitemap.com “search term”

What this does is tells google to look at all of your site pages, but only bring back those that are most important related to your phrase.

If you have already exported all of your data, you will see these pages in there (or should do) and if not, add them in. These are some of the strongest pages on your site to do with your term, so pay special attention to them.

Silo pages

Fundamentally, you are keeping your topics grouped. Generally, this is seen as good for the users, SEO and sometimes enhances the internal linking campaign.

Of course, that isn’t all there is to it.

The image below is a recent example of the results when this is done right. Nothing else was done other than:

  • Identify strong content pages
  • Define the hub pages
  • ‘SEO’ the hub pages
  • Add internal links from content pages
Internal links are hugely beneficial to any website.

Which are your hub pages?

The next step is to decide which are your primary hub pages – and this is easier than it sounds because a hub page is nothing more than a primary page that should be ranking for a key term. It can sometimes be a category page or even just a key page if you don’t use silos.

Most sites will normally have a few big phrases that they want to rank for – these are generally the pages that you will be targeting.

Which are your power/source pages?

There are so many names for these pages, but ultimately, they are pages that you will use to ‘power’ your hub pages. This is where you turn to the original data gathered using the techniques above.

Deciding which pages you should be using can be confusing, but you will have numbers from the original data gathering that has been performed.

Frequently

asked questions

An internal link is a clickable link between two pages on your own website.
Anchor text is the name of the link – sometimes it’s in a different colour or underlined.
Google uses internal links as a way of determining the structure and relevancy of your website pages. Think of it as the worlds best hint system.