Imagine drinking water from a glass with a small hole in the bottom. The hole is not large enough for water to drip very quickly, so it can still quench your thirst, for now.
But now think about this:
The glass is your website and water is the link juice (also known as link equity or value) that you get from backlinks. And the hole? That’s poor internal linking on your site.
In this post, I will show you how you can solve the leak and improve your SEO with a powerful internal link strategy that takes full advantage of your strongest backlinks.
Why should I consider backlinks and internal links?
It is no secret that links are the basis of search engine algorithms. And when I say links, I mean all links in general, external and internal.
Search engines (Google in particular) use links not only to find web pages but also to determine their relevance, authority, priority and dozens of other things that affect rankings.
Remember, PageRank still plays a vital role in Google’s algorithm.
And if you see how PageRank works by following the link in Gary’s tweet, you will find that backlinks and internal links are part of the process.
Despite this, many websites and SEO owners only focus on getting a lot of backlinks and then wonder why their rankings don’t skyrocket. Usually, they end up saying something like “backlinks no longer work.”
The fact is that when you get many backlinks to a particular page of your site, the link weight of other sites increases. The next step, which is often overlooked, is to spread it wisely.
Of course, you can create hundreds of backlinks to your home page.
But if your homepage does not point to other important pages on your site or if there are problems with your internal link structure, you will not get the full benefit of those backlinks.
Internal link SEO: how to increase the ranking by combining internal links and backlinks
The internal link is a complex process based primarily on the structure of your site. So, if you have a proper structure, you are halfway there.
I will not detail how to create an efficient site structure (which is a story in itself), but the important thing here is that you correct all the holes in the site before pouring more juice (link).
Follow these six steps to get an inbound SEO strategy that works.
#1. Find and correct orphans and dead ends
First, let’s specify the meaning of these terms to avoid misunderstandings.
An orphan page is a page that has no internal links received. Basically, neither search engines nor users can access it on other pages of your site.
Even if search engines can find these pages through a sitemap or backlinks from other sites, they will still have difficulty defining their relevance and context. Therefore, orphan pages are much less likely to obtain high rankings.
A dead page is a page that has no outgoing internal links. When users and search engines reach a dead page, they can return to the previous page or leave the site altogether.
These two types of pages cause significant page optimization problems because they prevent efficient link distribution and worsen the user experience.
Dead ends can be easily found using an SEO tracker. Orphans are more difficult to identify, and you may need to compare data from multiple sources, such as your SEO crawler, Search Console and Google Analytics.
Then, to solve these problems, simply add internal links to or from other pages on your site.
#2. Fix broken page links and irrelevant redirects
I hope everyone knows the danger of broken links. They damage the user experience, waste their tracking budget and burn the link juice.
When linked to a broken page, links from other donor pages become less valuable and the link does not weigh the landing page. This is a hole in your glass.
On the other hand, internal links to redirected pages are a more complicated case.
At first glance, you may think that it is not a problem and that it is almost correct. If a redirect works well and takes users to the desired page, everything is 100% correct.
But there are cases in which a redirection could have been defined as an irrelevant page, which is an error if it is not a temporary redirection.
For example, you may have a link in an old article that points to a relevant page that, for some reason, now redirects to the home page. In this case, a user who follows this link will be confused and Google will not pass the link juice.
Redirects can also lead to broken pages or take users to the page where the link is located.
Find and replace all broken links on your site and try to avoid internal links to redirects. Why make users and search bots take more action (in addition to increasing page load time and waste tracking budget) when you can simply link directly to the final redirect page?
3. Link to the Most Important Pages from the Homepage
In 99% of cases, the home page is the page most linked to a site.
Don’t you believe in me You can verify it yourself by starting your monitor backlinks account and browsing the “Top Linked” report?
In addition, all internal pages also usually have links to the home page through the navigation menu or the logo. This combination makes the homepage the largest link weight accumulator, so outgoing links are the most powerful.
Therefore, use the links on the home page carefully.
Link only to your most important pages, such as central pages, landing pages where you sell your products or services, or your blog. Otherwise, you can easily devalue your homepage links if you use them excessively.
Remember that the link weight is divided equally among all links on a page. The more links you have on a page, the less weight each link will have.
#4. Sprinkle contextual links throughout the site
Contextual backlinks are considered the most effective backlink type for SEO. If they are surrounded by relevant content, users and search engines will appreciate these links.
The same goes for internal links. But in this case, you have full control over the location of the link. If done correctly, this link will increase the time users spend on your site and improve the distribution of the link weight.
When creating a new blog post, be in the habit of adding relevant contextual links to other pages on your site.
We conducted an experiment in Netpeak software, adding relevant contextual links to our blog posts, pointing to four other pages of our blog. The result was immediate!
A couple of don’ts:
- Do not use automation. It never looks natural. Just don’t do it unless you have a great wiki site.
- Do not overuse contextual links (relevance is important). Linking to an irrelevant page just because your title contains the keyword you want to use as an anchor is useless.
#5. Use descriptive anchors
Anchor text plays an important role in the user experience and helps search engine robots navigate your site.
Google recommends paying attention to the anchor text of internal links, just as it does to external links.
John Mueller, the senior trend analyst for webmasters at Google, has also demonstrated its importance.
There is no secret technique for creating anchor text for internal links, and you can enrich them in keywords than in backlinks. Remember that search engines obviously do not recommend excessive optimization.
Here are some important tips for optimizing the internal link text:
- Make it descriptive. Use more than one word.
- Make it unique Do not use the same anchor text linked to different pages.
- Use keywords relevant to the Target page. But remember, no stuffing!
Here is a great example of suitable anchor text in internal links:
#6. Extract the juice from your backlinks to the maximum.
Now that your internal link play is strong, you can get the most weight from your backlinks.
Most of the above steps can also be applied to backlinks to better optimize them (because keep in mind that downloading PageRank works similarly for internal and external links).
This is what you can do to make the most of your backlinks:
6(A). Get backlinks from pages with fewer outbound links
In general, page backlinks that contain hundreds of links to other sites are less powerful.
For example, suppose a page has a PageRank of 1 and 100 outbound links. In this case, each link will receive only 0.01 of the link weight (all other things are equal).
Consequently, the fewer outgoing links a page has, the greater the weight of the link obtained from a backlink on that page.
Links to resource pages, directories and the like provide much less value than contextual links. When search engines find a link between dozens of other random links without context, the chances of considering it are really low.
6(b). Get backlinks to prominent places
Google representatives have repeatedly stated that links placed in footers or sidebars are much less valuable than links in the main content area.
Also, it looks very natural if you have a footer link or sidebar from another site. These types of links are often used by black hat SEOs, and search engines know it.
Because search engine robots crawl pages from top to bottom, the most powerful place for a backlink is in the upper half of the content area. Such a prominent location also increases the chances that users will see and click on it.
If you are creating links not only to get more backlinks but also to drive traffic to your site, pay attention to where you put them.
6(C). Don’t just focus on the back page links on the home page
Having backlinks on the home page with brand anchors is an essential part of building a brand in the eyes of search engines. But they are not enough for a quality backlink profile.
Instead, strengthen the central pages with more backlinks and they will transfer more link weight to deeper pages of your site.
For example, let’s use two blog categories: A and B. If you create backlinks for category A, it will change more weight to blog posts and are more likely to be higher than blog posts in category B.
And, if properly linked, these blog posts also transfer the weight of the link to each other, creating a powerful entity, driven by internal links and backlinks.
6(d). Make sure your backlinks are followed
Due to the constant manipulations of PageRank and backlink spam, the rel = “no follow” attribute was created to tell Google not to follow the link. Essentially, the link weight will not be passed if a link is not followed.
To verify that a link has this attribute, right-click the link in question and click “Inspect.” If you see something similar to <a href=”link” rel=”nofollow”>anchor</a>, then the link is not passing its weight.
Internal SEO Engagement Link
To get the most benefit from your backlinks, you must first prepare the ground.
Now you know how to keep the link on your site and get even more of the strongest backlinks.
What are you waiting for? Go for it!