How to optimize your internal linking for SEO?

December 3, 2015 - 4  min reading time - by Emma Labrador
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Internal linking is a key ranking factor. While focusing on external linking is also important, you should not neglect your internal one as it helps building page authority.
Internal linking allows connections between your website pages. It has several advantages like improving your usability, your user experience and your rankings. More precisely, internal linking aims to help website navigation, defines your website architecture and hierarchy and then distributes page authority and ranking power within the site.
However, you should not over optimize your internal linking as it could get viewed as spammy by Google.
Today, we are focusing on how to optimize your internal linking and on which tool to rely.

How to distribute page authority and ranking power throughout your website?

Before to go further, internal linking has been theorized as a strengthener of

an overall search-optimized value of a website. Inner linking does so by providing clear paths for spiders, prolonged sessions for users, and a tight-knit network of pages and posts. (Neil Patel, KissMetrics)

Basically, here are 5 steps you should follow.

1# Focus on content

As a logical fact, the more content you will get, the more internal links you will able to set up.
Your internal linking success will rely on your overall content marketing strategy. Then, you will be able to link to your content from different pages and articles.
Actually, some people think content siloing or complex layer of pages will help you improve your rankings but it doesn’t. There are no magic formulas. The key is to link to helpful and related content that will provide extra value to your readers in a natural way.

2# Write natural anchor text

Using anchor texts to link to related content should be done smartly. Actually you do not want to be penalized because you would have over optimized them. They need to be natural, look like sentence fragments that haven’t be study.
There are some best practices. For instance, prefer branded terms to look more natural. Also, you can use generic anchor texts like ‘here’, ‘this article’, or ‘website’.

You can find more tips about anchor text in this article by QuickSprout.

3# Bound to user-focused link

Internal linking must provide value to your readers and should not only be think in terms of search engines optimization.
A qualitative internal linking improves engagement as it keeps users longer on site. Actually, if the suggested link is truly inserted in a dedicated context and has a strong connection, users will be more likely to click on it and keep navigating throughout your website. Linking to a deeper content is a quality signal for both search engines and readers. Keep that in mind.

4# Link deeper

The deeper your links go, the better your internal linking will be. Actually one of the main error is to link to your homepage or to the ‘contact us’ page. The thing is, you should not link to top level pages because they have already links thanks to the main navigation menu. About the homepage, it already has enough links pointing to it. In the other hand, the contact us section should not be used because it also link to top pages. Unless, you can’t avoid it, do not directly link to the contact page. The purpose is to link to deeper pages to build a natural profile and offer an easier navigation to your visitors.

5#Prefer follow links

Follow links are the best option to build your internal structure. Previous theories tended to say that the rel=nofollow was the best strategy but experiences have showed that it wasn’t. As Matt Cutts stated

Rel=’nofollow’ means the PageRank won’t flow through that link as far as discovering the link, PageRank computation and all that sort of stuff. So for internal links, links within your site, I would try to leave the nofollow off.
So if it’s a link from one page on your site to another page on your site, you want that featuring to flow, you want Googlebot to be able to find that page. So almost every link within your site, that is a link going from one page on your site to another page on your site, I would make sure the PageRank does flow which would mean leaving off the nofollow.

NoFollow links should only be used for external links in order to not be penalized for influence selling .

How to calculate your internal popularity?

When developing your internal strategy, you need to understand the impact of your actions. When trying to push certain pages in the SERPs, a lot of metrics do have an impact. Internal linking is one of them.
The number of inlinks of a particular page has a deep impact on how a search engine is analysing your page. It will influence not only how often Google bots are fetching your page but also the internal authority of your page.

Oncrawl uses an internal PageRank scored from 0 to 10 called the InRank that helps you understand how popular your pages are regarding your internal link architecture. Oncrawl measures the authority of a page regarding the number and depth of inlinks pointing to that page.

Understand the impact of your strategy

When you try to improve the authority of a group of pages, chances are you are lowering the authority of others. Using the Inrank will help you avoid to shoot yourself in the foot.

Spread popularity to your main pages

For ecommerce websites for instance, there are pages more valuable than others. That’s why you might want to optimize those ones in priority. By priority pages, I refer to money pages like top products, best sales or brand pages. Those pages should received the highest Inrank and so on the highest rankings.

Audit your competitors’ internal linking

You can use our tool to analyze your competitors’ internal structure and spot the Inrank pattern of their money pages.

Emma Labrador See all their articles
Emma was the Head of Communication & Marketing at Oncrawl for over seven years. She contributed articles about SEO and search engine updates.
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