Optimizing Internal Link Structures Best Practices





Blog Date

June 5, 2024


UK, Manchester

Follow us on


Table of Contents

Optimizing Internal Link Structures Best Practices

Understanding the Power of Internal Links

Internal links are the bedrock of on-page optimization and SEO. They help Google discover, crawl, and index the pages on your website. Without a smart internal linking strategy, your pages can sit dormant, siloed from Google and deprived of organic traffic. Worse, a poor internal link structure can create a frustrating user experience, making it difficult for visitors to find the content they need, leading to high bounce rates.

With strategic internal linking, not only can you increase the number of pages that show up in search results and generate traffic, but you can also use them to pass page authority from one page to another. The result? A better distribution of SEO juice that can help you rank higher and get more pages indexed.

So, buckle up, my friend, and let’s embark on a journey to explore the makings of smart internal linking. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and strategies to optimize your website’s internal link structure, rank higher, and ensure both visitors and search engines can always find what they need.

Types of Internal Links

Internal links are hyperlinks that point from one page on your website to another page on the same domain. Unlike external links, which point to other websites, internal links stay within your own domain.

For example, your website’s navigation incorporates internal linking, as the navigation buttons point visitors (and search engine crawlers) to other pages within your site.

Think of internal links in the same way you might think of backlinks – a backlink is when another website links to your website. Internal links are essentially backlinks for pages within your own site. Like backlinks, internal links also pass page authority from one page to another.

The Benefits of Strategic Internal Linking

There are four core SEO benefits to quality internal linking that make it a must-have for any solid SEO strategy:

  1. Improved User Experience: The easier it is for visitors to find relevant pages, the more effortless their experience. And what’s good for the user is good for Google.

Poor internal linking leads to a poor site structure and a poor user experience, resulting in limited time on site, high bounce rates, fewer pages per visit, fewer conversions, and more frustration.

  1. Enhanced Indexation and Crawlability: Websites get a limited “crawl budget” from search engines like Google. This means that in a given timeframe, Google’s algorithms will only crawl and index a certain number of pages on your website.

Internal linking helps Google find, prioritize, crawl, and index deep pages on your website faster, ensuring more of your pages get indexed within your budget.

  1. Improved Conversion Rates: Calls-to-action (CTAs) help move users from one stage of their journey to the next. They motivate action and help visitors complete their goals. Internal linking allows you to strategically place these CTAs, guiding users towards your desired outcomes.

  2. Increased Page Authority: Internal links pass page authority (or “link juice”) from one page to another. This can help boost the ranking potential of your important pages.

Implementing an Effective Internal Linking Strategy

Now that you understand the benefits of internal linking, let’s dive into the key components of an effective internal linking strategy.

Leverage Authoritative Pages

An authority page is a page on your website that has already accumulated backlinks and PageRank. Since internal links pass page authority from one page to another, use your most authoritative pages to boost the rankings of less authoritative but important pages by interlinking them together.

You can use a tool like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or Google Search Console to pull a report on your top pages (those with the most backlinks from quality domains). Then, using one of the same tools, identify which target pages rank on page one between positions 2-9. These are the pages that have the most to gain from an authoritative internal link, as a single internal link could shoot them to the top of page one.

Utilize Contextual Links

Contextual links are links within the body of a page that link to relevant pages on your site. The key word here is “relevant.” Contextual links deepen the conversation or aid the visitor on their current journey.

Don’t arbitrarily link to other pages in an attempt to flatten your site architecture (reduce page depth) or pass along link equity. Link to pages that are genuinely related and helpful to the user on their current journey.

You can add contextual links directly within the body copy, as a “further reading” block at the end of an article, or in a box within an article. Wherever you add them, make sure they make sense.

Optimize Page Depth

Page depth refers to the number of clicks away from the homepage a visitor needs to travel to get to a specific page. The deeper the page, the harder it is for Google to find and crawl them.

According to Google’s John Mueller, pages that are closer to the homepage signal to Google that they’re more relevant, so they reward them with more weight. In general, it’s best practice to keep page depth between 1-3 clicks from the homepage. Anything else may signal low priority to Google.

Implement the Hub-and-Spoke Model

We’re big fans of the hub-and-spoke model here at MCR SEO. What is it? A better way to organize your information (and internal linking structure) topically.

Hubs function as a home for a big, broad topic that you’d never be able to rank for alone. Hubs are like category pages. Spokes function as individual articles that drill down deeper into subsections of the big, broad topic. Spokes are like subcategories.

And links keep them topically connected. Together, hubs, spokes, and links can improve crawlability, indexation, and user experience.

Optimize Anchor Text

Anchor text is the “link text” or visible text of a link. It helps indicate to search engines what the page you’re pointing to is about.

When choosing anchor text for internal links, keep it natural: Use anchor text that makes sense to readers, and don’t overdo it with exact-match, keyword-heavy anchor text. If all your internal links are exact-match and stuffed with keywords, it will look suspicious to Google.

Optimize for diversity – don’t use the same anchor text for multiple pages.

Leverage Older Content

Often overlooked (or forgotten), but an easy win: Adding internal links from an old piece of content to new content.

Every 3-6 months, update older articles with relevant contextual links that point to new pages that didn’t exist when you first wrote them. This helps spread link equity and signals to Google that your content is fresh and relevant.

Monitor Link Quantity

The number of internal links on a page matters. Years ago, Google’s former head of webspam, Matt Cutts, stated that it’s a good practice to keep total links (internal and external) on a single page below 100, as pages with more than 100 links might not get all of them followed.

More recently, Google has suggested that having more than 100 links isn’t a problem. However, adding too many links can create an overwhelming user experience and look spammy. If your webpage has 300+ links, the entire page will be highlighted, which isn’t ideal.

Aim to keep the number of internal links per page to a reasonable number, typically around 100 or less, for the best user experience.

Fixing Internal Linking Issues

Broken Links

According to SEMRush, 42.5% of all websites have broken internal links – links that point to a webpage that no longer exists. This can happen due to website migrations, URL changes, or deleted pages.

Finding and fixing broken internal links is easy. Simply use a free tool like Dr. Link Check to crawl your site and identify all the broken links. Then go fix them.

Nofollow Links

All links, internal or external, are either dofollow or nofollow. Dofollow links tell Google to pass page authority or link juice to the page they link to, while nofollow links tell Google not to pass along link juice.

For internal linking, you’ll want to keep your links as dofollow 99.99% of the time. The only exception would be if you don’t want a page indexed in Google, in which case you would nofollow every link to that page (and also noindex the page).

Wrapping Up

I hope by now one thing is clear: Internal links are a game-changer for your SEO. They help Google discover, crawl, and index your pages, pass authority between pages, and improve the user experience.

Follow the tips outlined in this article, and you’ll be on your way to higher rankings, more indexation, more conversions, and a better user experience through internal linking. It’s one of the quickest wins in your SEO arsenal.

So what are you waiting for? Start optimizing your internal link structure today!

Copyright 2023 © MCRSEO.ORG