Welcome to the Salience internal linking SEO cheat sheet! Here we are going to explain everything you need to know about internal linking whilst also sharing some essential link best practices.



Internal Linking FAQ

Before we start revealing these important internal link recommendations, let’s first answer some of the most frequently asked questions about internal linking.

What is internal linking?

Internal linking is adding links that go from one page to another on the same domain.

How important is internal linking?

Search engines use links to find out what content on your site is related and the value of that content.

The number of internal links pointing to a page is a signal to search engines about the relative importance of that page.” – Google.

How many internal links should a page have?

There is not a clear number here, but too many links will make your page seem spammy. Just be logical with the volume of internal links. Remember, link equity is divided from a page every time you link out, so make sure it is only going to important and relevant pages.

If an important page does not appear in this list, or if a less important page has a relatively large number of internal links, you should consider reviewing your internal link structure.” – Google.

What is link equity?

Link equity (aka link juice) is the idea that each webpage has its own value, which is determined by a number of factors such as the quality of external links coming to that page, the topical relevancy, quality of content etc. Each page has different value based on these factors. The homepage of a website for example is typically the most valuable page with the most link equity.

Does Internal Linking help SEO?

Absolutely! Internal links allow users to navigate a website, help establish hierarchy for the website and importantly they send link equity to your pages.

These all contribute to ranking factors that can impact your SEO efforts.

How do I make an internal link?

Depending on your website CMS, you can add internal links either by adding the link code in the HTML or by hyperlinking a selection of text, as seen below:

The HTML code for an internal link looks like this:

<a href=”https://salience.co.uk/insight/magazine/7-seo-predictions-for-2020/”>7 SEO Predictions for 2020</a>

How do I find internal links to my website?

Google Search Console shows the ratio of your internal links. Simply log in to your Google Search Console account and go to Links > Internal links > Top internally-linked pages:

Crawling software like Screaming Frog allows you to review your internally linking much deeper and will help with finding the issues mentioned in the below best practice recommendations.



Internal Linking Best Practices

Below are a bunch of internal linking suggestions and recommendations that adhere to best practice guidelines, will improve your UX, and should spread the link equity a lot better across your website.



General Link Health

Fix Broken Internal Links

Seems kind of obvious, but fixing broken internal links ensures search engine crawlers can access a website with their full crawl budget, and results in a better user experience too.

If the broken URLs are for pages that no longer exist, the broken links can simply be removed from the page.

If the content is available at a new URL, the source link should be updated to the new URL, with the old link 301 redirected to the new location (assuming it had useful external backlinks).

The Check My Links Google Chrome extension is useful to locate the position of links on a particular page.

Update Redirected Links

Hitting a link that redirects can be confusing and a bit of a pain for searchers, but it can be a nightmare for crawlers.

Where possible, redirects should be updated to the destination link. This helps reduce load on the server and crawl budget waste.

This applies to 301 and 302 redirects if they have moved permanently. If a page has only moved URL temporarily, it is fine to keep the 302 redirect in place.

Screaming Frog’s ‘Response Codes’ tab is a great way to find all of your pages that redirect. We recommend bulk exporting the ‘Redirection (3xx) Inlinks’ report so you can see the source pages where the redirects are being linked and should be updated. You can find the report here:

I always pivot this data after I’ve opened it in Excel, so you can identify which redirects are the biggest offenders. Often the highest volume redirects are caused by sitewide redirects in the header or footer of the template.

Update HTTP Links to HTTPS

Mixed content, where HTTP resources are loaded over a secure HTTPS connection, can be a major problem for your site.

Modern browsers may block this content, or will display warnings about this type of content to indicate to the user that this page contains insecure resources.” – Google.

Again, you can use Screaming Frog to identify if you have unsecured resources still internally linked and need replacing on your site.

Related – Why Website Security is Important for SEO



Anchor Texts

Use Relevant Anchor Texts

Anchor text is the text used (often blue and underlined) to link to a page.

The anchor text you use for a link should provide at least a basic idea of what the page linked to is about. Aim for short but descriptive text-usually a few words or a short phrase.” – Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

Therefore, anchor text such as “Read more” isn’t recommended.

Anchor texts across your site should be keyword rich and specific to the page, unlike this example:

These could be updated to be more keyword targeted to match the intent of the page e.g. Women’s Dresses, Men’s Swim Short’s, Girls Swimwear and Boys Swim Short’s.

Use Unique Anchor Texts

Anchor texts should describe what the linking page is. So, having the same anchor texts across several different pages is a poor user experience and will confuse search engines.

In this example all anchor texts on this page are the same, despite linking to different products for very different customers:

Anchor texts should be as descriptive as possible without being manipulative.

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Navigation

Improve Access to Important Landing Pages

Top category and product listing pages should never be more than 3 clicks away from the homepage. For user and search crawler accessibility it’s important for these pages to be reachable in as few clicks as possible.

To push these pages in front of more people, we recommend including them in your mega menu navigation, in “most popular” panels and more.

Add Links High up on a Page

Putting internal links towards the top of a page can reduce bounce rate and improve Dwell Time.

When you put internal links high up on your page, it gives people something to click on right away, which means they’ll spend more time on your site.

We always recommend adding internal links throughout a page, but adding 1-2 internal links at the top of a page should be considered too.

Add Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs help search engines understand how a website is structured and are a clear signal and navigation aid to customers e.g.:

Some studies have shown they lower bounce rates, as they make it easier for customers to get to related products (e.g. if they’ve arrived at a product page from a search engine). They can also appear in search results, giving a clear indication to where a page sits within a website’s structure:

It is essential that all breadcrumbs point to the correct canonical URL’s, so there’s no redirects, broken pages or incorrect URL’s. Also, the breadcrumbs should follow the website hierarchy correctly.

Google has examples of how to set up breadcrumbs from a technical point-of-view.



Content

Add Links from Blog Posts

Blog posts should link to relevant pages on the main website. This not only helps website visitors, as you can direct them to related products, but also helps search engines to better understand the relationship between topics.

Add Links from Categories to Guides

Guides are a great way to educate and inform your websites customers. These resources should be linked to on your category and subcategory pages where relevant.

Again, this can also help with improving the topical relevancy in the eyes of search engines.

Related – Leveraging Guide Content For Maximum Category Performance

Link from New Content to Old Content

According to Cyrus Shepardlinks from fresh sites [or pages] pass fresh value”, therefore when you write a new piece of content, you should include five or more links to old articles.

This is helpful because websites have a “freshness value” that Google detects and uses as part of its ranking algorithm.

Pinging the old content with a new link helps to boost its likelihood of increasing rank in the SERPs.  In the eyes of the search engines, readers who follow internal links are “refreshing” older content by showing that it’s still relevant.



Maintenance

Avoid Duplicating Links

Try to avoid linking to the same page twice within page content. This could look manipulative and won’t really provide much for the user. Google will only count the first link anyway when attributing value.

Reduce Unimportant Sitewide Links

Often service pages that you care about the least, such as contact us or about us pages, are some of the most linked pages on a website.

This is because links in the header or footer of a page template are being duplicated thousands of times. Especially problematic when they redirect, as mentioned earlier.

The Stores page on this example is linked to at least twice, in the header and footer:

This heavily bloated the internal linking to this very thin and unimportant page.

Reduce Links to Sale Pages

Sales pages undoubtedly serve a purpose to customers, but they do very little in terms of SEO visibility, can be a cannibalisation nightmare, and can inflate the internal linking.

In the example below, the gender sales pages were being linked to twice in the sales dropdown menu:

As a result, the volume of internal links to these pages was significant. In fact, they were linked to more than the non-sale pages that we cared about!



Footer

Add Footer Links

Adding category links to the footer can double the number of links to these important pages. Websites such as H&M do this well:

Links in the footer can improve navigation, user experience, and will be a signal to search engines that these are crucial pages.

Remove Duplicate Links in Footer

Be sure to check what is already linked to in your footer, as often link text can be different, but the landing page is the same, like this example:

Only one of these links is needed and as this is sitewide, this is internal linking overkill.



There we have it, the Salience SEO Cheat Sheet. We hope you have found this guide useful. If you want more information on internal linking or anything else SEO, speak to our expert team today.

David Ryan

Dave is Senior Technical SEO Strategist at Salience with 8 years industry experience and several FIFA office championships under his belt during an illustrious playing career. He enjoys strong tea, smooth website migrations and dislikes unexplained algorithm changes.

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