7 Tips for Better Internal Linking

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On-site SEO isn’t hard, but it is often used wrongly by many. When you hear on-site SEO, you think of code and site architecture, great valuable content and internal linking among others. One of the techniques what often gets overused and abused is internal linking. I know it sounds simple enough, right? Just link your pages together… Wrong! There are many factors to weigh in on while developing your internal linking structure. We like to follow these 7 simple rules while linking our pages together.

1. Relevancy is King

Link to relevant pages that make sense only. Here is one example, lets say you run a online store and you sell shoes, shirts, pants & accessories (belts & ties). It wouldn’t make sense for you to link to a page about “belts” from your “shoes” page, just like it wouldn’t make sense to link to your “tie” page from your “pants” page. Keep it relevant, be smart and link to related pages only. Using the same example it would be smart to link to your “belts” page from your “pants” page and your “ties” page from your “shirt” page and so on..

2. Analyze Your Site & Current Rankings

Take a look at your analytics to identity your keywords what are currently receiving traffic and check the rank of the keyword. Its best to focus on current high ranking pages and improve these first, then focus on building a plan to hoist the rest up.

3. Make a Plan & Draw it Out!

Plan SEO Internal LinksOne big mistake that I use to make personally was to just go in and edit pages on the fly, finding keywords what made sense, then linked to relevant pages. This worked okay but it would turn out weeks later I had no Idea what pages I linked to or why. So I started using a whiteboard & mindmaps (mind node for mac is free) to map out all of the pages on a site and categorized them accordingly. Once you have your pages layed out infront of you it makes it 100X easier to just draw a line to a related page you want to link to. The only thing to do next is to execute your plan.

4. Do Not Link to 40 Pages with the Same Keyword…

I see this on countless sites day in and day out, they make a page and figure since there are 14 “keywords” they need to throw a link on all of them! I have even seen the same keyword linked to multiple URL’s…reallywtf?!

Truth is 1 link per keyword/page is good enough, again keep it relevant. People want to come to your site to get great content, not read a page with every other word underlined & linked.

5. Vary Your Anchor Text

Anchor TextThere is no doubt that you want to get as much “exact match” anchor text links as you can, but its all about creating a balanced % of anchor text. Exact match is always good but dont force it. If it doesn’t fit naturally in the article it is okay to link to a page with a different anchor text. Just be aware you dont want a 100% exact match, I have hear some say a 50/50 balance is good, but I usually shoot for a 60exact/40non-exact. Use this same thinking when doing external link building also.

6. Zero Links are Sometimes Best!

If you have an important page, usually the one you are pointing the majority of your links to, it’s usually best to leave this page with no outgoing links. You want this important page to be your top ranking page, so dont spread out links on this page to other pages, that doesn’t make sense. This is good not only for search engine optimization but for user experience. Chances are that this page is the page you ultimately want your user to see also so dont send them away.

7. If You Dont Have a Reason, Dont Link it!

Tip number 7 is basically tip 1-6 wrapped together, if you dont have a logical reason to link to another page then dont link to that page! Review the tips above and if you think you have a great spot to place an internal link then go for it! If you are thinking “well, I need to get more links to this page so lets randomly place them throughout the site” then you need to step back and re-evaluate your plan.

About The Author: Casey Kluver


Casey is co-founder and head of SEO and marketing at Falling Up Media.
Follow Casey on Twitter at @caseykluver or on Google+

This entry was posted on November 29, 2011 by in Blog
  • http://www.ScottBartell.com Scott Bartell

    Great post! On-site SEO is obviously very important because it is something that a website has direct control over. 

    I liked your first point “Relevancy is King”. I had never really thought of it like that. My question is, using your example, wouldn’t a customer who is buying brown shoes potentially be interested in a matching brown belt? While these two items may not be directly related I think that they do indeed have some relevance. My question is: where do you draw the line? What determines when something isn’t relevant enough to link to? How do you know for sure?

    • Anonymous

      Scott, thanks for stopping by and commenting on our blog! 

      You make a great point that the user could potentially want matching shoes and belt, you could certainly make the exception especially if its the same style. Personally I would much rather sell them on the shoes though instead of them clicking on the belt link, then in the checkout process target matching items.

      Another example, maybe this one is a bit better. Lets say you sell sporting goods & athletic equipment. On your baseball gloves page, It would make more sense to link to something related to baseball rather than something like boxing gloves or winter gloves, etc.

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    Its a nice post. I love reading it as it really helps me in optimizing my website. Simple things are easy to overlook :)

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    SEO is truly not a fun game. You must carry out a thorough research before starting SEO of any website.