How to Effectively Leverage Strategic Internal Linking for SEO in 4 Simple Steps



Ask any expert and they’ll tell you that link building campaigns are a key part of SEO strategy for every site. However, in the rush to court the attention of the outside world, it’s all too easy to forget about aspects of linking that are firmly under your own control.

 

Making the most of internal linking on your site is a key way of keeping both users and search engines happy, and should be a core part of any sensible SEO approach. Sadly, like so much else in SEO, it’s an area that’s attracted a lot of largely useless bluster and noise over the years.

In this piece, we’ll cut through the clutter around the topic and lay out a simple four step strategy for making sure you’re not dropping the ball on your own site. Let’s kick things off with a look at what we’re actually dealing with.

1. Review Your Current Content and Navigation Structure

Rather than frantically peppering your site with links, it makes sense to take a clearheaded look at your current content and navigation structure to begin with. You’ll want to ask yourself two simple questions as you do so:

  1. Do I have enough content? You need to be dealing with a decent amount of material before any tweaks to internal linking have an effect. If you’re currently shy on content, your time would be better spent addressing that first before worrying about links.
  2. Does the current navigation structure make sense? If the basic top-level navigation of your content is all over the place, that’s a problem that needs to be tackled before you start building links around it. Both Kissmetrics and Yoast have good overviews on how to get this right.

Once you’ve answered those two questions to your satisfaction, move on to step two.

2. Tidy Broken Links and Optimize Your Sitemap

Step two is about getting some housekeeping out of the way before we get down to further business. Let’s start with broken links – these are an obstacle to both site users and search engines, so it makes sense to take care of them as soon as possible. The Internal Links report in Google Search Console, or software such as SEO Spider Tool, can help you blast through this quickly.

Rich Pins Yoast SEO

Now is also a good time to make sure you’re helping search engines actually parse your content properly via a well constructed sitemap. Save yourself a lot of manual tweaking heartache with this one by simply using the XML Sitemaps option offered by the Yoast SEO plugin.

By this stage, you’ve cleared the decks – now it’s time to start looking for high-value pages offering the most bang for your buck when it comes to internal links.

3. Identify and Optimize Your Most Authoritative Content

Let’s start with a little background digging to work out which are your most authoritative pages. There’s no one perfect way to do this, but here are three quick techniques you can use to kick things off:

  1. Moz’s Open Site Explorer: Enter your domain in the Open Site Explorer, select the Top Page report, and you’ll have a list of pages ranked by their perceived authority according to Moz.
  2. Google Search Console: Go to Search Traffic > Links to Your Site > Your Most Linked Content and you’ll have another useful list of pages that are consistently attracting interest.
  3. Google Analytics: Go to Acquisition > Channels > Organic Search > Landing Pages and you’ll see a quick list of pages that are currently making search engines happy.

With a selection of powerful pages to hand, you’ll now want to make sure they’re optimized.

Start by making sure that each page actually has internal links. Then review all of your content – you’re looking for places where an internal link would help the reader, provide context for search engines, or possibly highlight pages that are important to your business.

There are a few common sense basics to bear in mind while you do this:

  1. Keep things relevant and link with the user in mind.
  2. Don’t go crazy with the amount of links – under 100 should be your limit.
  3. Don’t try and get sneaky by keyword stuffing anchor text.

With that heavy lifting out of the way, it’s then time to blitz through the rest of your site.

4. Fine-Tune the Rest of Your Content

Our final step involves tidying up loose ends across the remainder of your pages, and can be divided into two parts:

  1. Go through each of your pages and look for sensible organic linking opportunities using the same criteria we employed for our authority pages above.
  2. Use the SEO Spider Tool to quickly identify pages with zero or very few incoming links. The In linkstab will give you this info nice and cleanly. Once you have it, start building internal links to the pages it identifies.

By the time you’re through with that, your site should be in substantially better shape in terms of internal linking, and you can get back to trying to attract more links from the outside world

Conclusion

Like many aspects of SEO, internal linking is both a generally simple concept and a potential rabbit hole you could disappear into for months.

The four steps we’ve covered are by no means a complete guide to the subject, but they’ll get you 90% of the way there and are easily implemented. Turn them into a process you repeat at scheduled intervals and you’ll be a long way ahead of the chasing pack at https://views.guru/.

Let’s step through our list one more time:

  1. Review your current content and navigation.
  2. Fix broken links and optimize your sitemap.
  3. Optimize your most authoritative content.
  4. Plug the gaps in the rest of your content.

Are there any tips or tricks we’ve missed? Get in touch via the comments section below and let us know!

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