Use Internal Links to Get a Better Reception from Search Engines and Readers

Would you like your blog to generate more traffic from search engines? And would you like those new visitors to continue reading other content on your site instead of leaving?

A low-hanging fruit solution exists: Link more to your older content.

Generate more search traffic and keep visitors on your site longer with a good internal linking strategy, says @SEOSmarty via @CMIContent. #SEO Click To Tweet

What are internal links?

Internal linking (or interlinking) involves adding links to other pages on your website. They can help:

  • Direct clicks to older content
  • Engage readers to continue their journey through your site
  • Improve your site’s search crawlability, helping search bots find more of your pages.

In fact, internal links are fundamental to your content findability and for that reason, it’s the very first Google’s webmaster guideline: “Ensure that all pages on the site can be reached by a link from another findable page.”

Internal links also help Google understand your site’s structure and determine which are the more important pages based on the quantity of internally linked content.

How to add internal links

Internal links can be placed in:

  • Main navigation
  • Sidebar
  • Footer
  • Unique main content (also known as contextual links)

Contextual links can be inserted directly into the content or added as standalone boxes to promote further reading. All these links must be directly relevant to the content on the page.

Links inside unique main content pass more value than boilerplate links.

Though little evidence confirms this educated guess, contextual links may carry the biggest SEO value because they are editorially relevant and hardly ever automated.

Always think about striking a balance between internal linking and general readability. Historically, Google recommends using descriptive anchor text when adding internal links. Consider anchoring links through the keywords used in the content. When appropriate, use a call to action for the internal link, such as “Read more here about KEYWORD” or “Here’s more detailed information on KEYWORD.”

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How to identify link-worthy content

Much of your interlinking strategy will rely on your editorial direction and calendars. Likely, your familiarity with the content will create some obvious choices. Here are a few general suggestions to help identify the more valuable content to link to:

Keep an eye on your high-ranking content

Link to content that’s already successful. Google’s Search Console is a great place to find those pages. Go to the Performance section and click through to the Pages tab:

Find pages on a topic related to the new content. Click the + button to create a new filter, choose to filter by keywords in URLs or search queries:

Link to relevant, high-performing #content in your new content, says @SEOSmarty via @CMIContent. #SEO Click To Tweet

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Use Yoast SEO plugin

A well-known plugin Yoast SEO includes an internal linking tool in its premium package ($89 per site). The feature suggests related content to link as you ready the content for publishing:

Premium @Yoast #SEO plugin comes with an internal linking tool for @wordpressdotcom that suggests related #content as you ready the content for publishing, says @SEOSmarty via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

More linking WordPress plugins

While manually adding links is the best way, you can combine that tactic with automated methods. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin automatically detects related content and adds a list of links below your content. You can modify the list or deactivated it on a post level:

@yarpp automatically detects related #content and adds a list of links below your content, says @SEOSmarty via @CMIContent. #SEO #Tools Click To Tweet

Here are a few more related post plugins to consider.

Another option is to use Internal Link Building plugin, which allows you to automatically link any word (or phrase) to a URL you specify:

Internal Link Building plugin automatically links any word or phrase to a URL you specify.

Finally, a few great CTA plugins allow you to create contextual CTAs to convert visitors into reading more on your site.

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How to determine the number of internal links

There’s no magic number: Think about your readers and what they may be interested in reading. When it comes to SEO, there’s no good answer as well. Though its advice has evolved over the year, it more recently has said there’s no such thing as an internal-linking over-optimization penalty, but cautioned that sites shouldn’t link every page to every other page on the site.

There’s no such thing as an internal-linking over-optimization penalty, but don’t link every page to every other page on your site, says @SEOSmarty via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

It seems content creators have some freedom on the number of internal links, but the key is that they must be natural and useful to the reader.

How to track internal link performance

The best internal links get clicked. To identify those:

  • Use Google Analytics. Here’s a helpful tutorial to do that.
  • Use heat map tools. You can identify where people look and what they tend to click on your site. Here’s a guide to aid you in that process
  • Use the free Finteza plugin, which makes URL tagging and tracking easy. The only inconvenience is it requires using the class version of WordPress editor:

Go forth and link

Strategic and consistent use of internal links will help boost your rankings and help engage your readers. Sadly, it is often a missed piece of a puzzle in just about any content marketing strategy. These tips should help you create a better-performing internal linking structure for your site.

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All tools mentioned in this post are identified by the author. If you have a relevant tool to suggest, please add in the comments.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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