Internal links are links that point from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain.

In this post, we will dive into internal link analysis, and why you should audit your internal links to get the maximum benefit. 

You can learn more about internal links at our cheat sheet to internal linking, here: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Internal Link Analysis for SEO. (You guessed it: the hyperlinked text used here is an internal link!)

Recommended Reading: Why External Links and Internal Links are Important for SEO

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 within one link of the home page will be perceived as the most important pages to search engines.

Again, more on that in our ultimate cheat sheet

benifits-intrernal-linking

(The pyramid formation has the most important pages at the top of the structure.)


The Benefits of Internal Links

A comprehensive internal linking structure provides a richer SEO profile and end-user experience for your website.

Use internal links to:

1. Open pathways to pages previously less accessible to search engine crawlers.

2. Help organize pages categorically based on the keyword used in the link’s URL and anchor text.

3. Optimize user navigation by providing further ways to interact with your site by correcting "bad links".

4. Use anchor text keywords to aid user intent.

5. Pass authority between linked pages.

6. Organize site architecture and communicate to search engines crawlers your most important web pages.

7. Help promotional campaigns by highlighting or featuring new links on a home page or next to content.

Dive into these benefits further here: 7 Benefits of Internal Linking in SEO.
 

Download Our Guide to the Basics of Technical SEO


Why is an Internal Link Audit So Important?

We hope you're starting to see the importance of internal links! But your internal link strategy can only lead to benefits if the links function properly. This is where an internal link audit comes in. 

A thorough internal link analysis provides you with several important types of information. Below are 5 things that an internal link audit will uncover, all of which (when addressed!) will lead to a better search experience.

Recommended Reading: Common Internal Linking Mistakes in SEO (and How to Fix Them)

#1. Find Broken or Bad Links

A link audit uncovers any links to internal pages that return 404 (i.e. page not found). Simply identify the parent pages on the website and update the link with 200 Ok pages.


#2. Locate 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.


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.

#3. Confirm No Follow Links

An internal link audit can reveal "no follow" links versus "do follow."

"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.

#4. 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 look like spam to search engines.

A link audit reveals all the pages with more than 100 links. Not doing this places your website at risk of losing the ability to have additional pages crawled.


#5. Identify Pages for Better Internal Linking

An audit will reveal which pages are not linked as often as they should be. It will also call out pages of little importance that have an overabundance of links.


To reduce bounce rate and increase engagement, consider prioritizing links to pages that already have good engagement, but that have fewer internal links pointing to them.

For further reading on internal linking strategies and best practices, reference the article: Internal Linking Strategies to Build Site Authority.

Final Thoughts

When we think about links, we often ignore the internal links that drive value to the site. Backlinks usually get all the attention! 

Internal linking is a highly valuable strategy, both for SEO and for your site’s bottom line. Pay careful attention to how your links connect your pages to each other, and try to keep your navigation as intuitive and convenient as possible.