In the past, we’ve talked about internal linking and why it is important for SEO. If you missed that one, you can read it here.
In this post, we will dive into internal link analysis, and why you should audit your internal links to get the maximum benefit. Unless they are external, you have the complete control over the links when they are internal.
What is an internal link?
Internal links are links that point from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain.
How should you structure your website?
Your internal link building structure should follow a pyramid formation. Your home page rests at the top. Directly beneath lie cornerstone pages or category pages that link deeply to relevant blog posts or product pages. All pages directly within one link of the home page will be perceived as the most important to search engines.
The benefits of internal links
A comprehensive internal linking structure provides a richer SEO profile and end-user experience for your website. Internal links:
- Open pathways to web pages previously less accessible to search engine spiders.
- Help organize web pages categorically based on the keyword used in the link’s URL and anchor text.
- Improve user navigation by providing further ways to interact with your site by correcting "bad links".
- Use anchor text keywords to aid user intent.
- Pass “link juice” between web pages (a purported ranking factor).
- Organize site architecture and communicates to search engines your most important web pages.
- Help promotional campaigns by visibly highlighting or featuring new links on a home page or next to content.
Why is an internal link audit so important?
For eCommerce sites, it is normal to have products or category pages that are no longer available or new products and category pages added to the site. For sites with thousands of pages, a thorough internal link analysis will provide you with several important types of information. Some of this information reveals existing or potential problems which should be addressed quickly to ensure a good customer experience.
seoClarity has a site audit technology that also does an analysis on your internal links. You can learn more about the audit process within our Clarity Audits here.
Broken or bad links
Find any links to internal pages that return 404. Simply identify the parent pages on the website and update the link with 200 Ok pages.
Internal 301/302 redirects
If your website has a lot of internal 301/302 redirects from link removal, there’s a chance that your deeper pages may not be receiving as much link equity as they could be. While Google claims there is no link equity lost in 3xx redirects, why leave this up to chance? I would rather be 100% sure that internal links are passing their full value throughout the website. Besides link equity, it will also help with your crawl budget as Google spiders will not have to crawl the link twice.
To identify this, simply run a site crawl and collect all the links within your link profile that are either 301 or 302 redirects. Here's an example of that detail using Clarity Audits.
Often, these are instances of internal redirects in key areas such as the primary/secondary navigation, footer or sidebar links. This is great because, with one change, you can eliminate a large quantity of these internal 301 redirects. While you’ll want to fix as many as possible, I recommend you start there.
No follow links
"No follow" internal links to low-value pages might be intentional, but you should double check that all pages that have only "no follow" internal links are actually low-value pages.
Check for pages with more than 100 links
While Google has never confirmed the maximum number of links that should be on any given page, more than 100 links (including those in the headers and footers) is overwhelming for a reader and looks spammy to search engines. Find all these pages with more than 100 links using and limit the number of links, ensuring less than 100 per page. Not doing this places your website at risk of losing the ability to have additional pages crawled.
Identify pages for better internal linking
Discover pages that are not linked as often as they should be and recognize quickly the pages of little importance that have an overabundance of links.
To reduce bounce rates and increase engagement, consider prioritizing links to pages that already have good engagement, but that have fewer internal links pointing to them.
When we think about links, we often ignore the internal links that drive value to the site. Internal linking is a highly valuable strategy, both for SEO and for your site’s bottom line. Pay careful attention to how your links bind your pages to one another and try to keep your navigation as intuitive and convenient as possible.