Boost Your Website’s Crawlability and Quality With Internal Linking

Pamela Obeid

When it comes to SEO, there is a lot to consider. So much so, it’s easy to overlook some of the most pivotal stuff.No, it’s not backlinks, or content marketing.It’s not even the many, many Google algorithm updates.It’s a silent culprit - internal linking.Today, we explain what internal linking is, why it’s important, how it will help boost your SEO, and more.Buckle in, it’s a long one today!

Why is internal linking important?

Often, internal linking is cast aside in favour of external linking.This is done even though internal links help Google index your website faster and boost page ranks on your site!You might be wondering - what exactly are internal links?Why is a solid internal linking strategy important for SEO?How can internal links make your webpages more discoverable by both Google and all of your site visitors?We’ve got all of this and more covered down below.

What are internal links?

In a nutshell, internal links are hyperlinks that are used to link one page on a domain to another page on the same domain.These are different from external links, which link to another website.For example, in a blog post that discusses the importance of search intent in SEO, we might internally link to our SEO page like this:

If we were to discuss Facebook, we would link to the external Facebook website like this:

How can I format an internal link?

Some of the best ways to do this are by using:

  • Descriptive anchor text
  • Specific keywords that give a sense of the topic
  • Keywords that the source page is trying to target

How can internal linking improve my SEO?

There are two main reasons that internal linking strategies are essential for solid SEO results:

  • It helps set up your site architecture (otherwise known as information architecture, or IA)
  • It spreads your link juice (otherwise known as link value or link equity)

Site architecture

No matter the industry you’re in, your end goal is to have a cohesive website that is relevant and useful to your site visitors.A massive part of this lies with the ability to make your site easy to navigate.Your IA is how information on your site is structured. You can look at this as your sitemap.A shoe company, for example, might have an IA like so:

Internal links are what help both search engines and your site visitors to navigate around the site and understand your hierarchy of information.Think of it like this - a search engine doesn’t automatically know all the content on all websites.It uses web crawlers to search the Internet for content to add to its index - with internal links appearing as different lines on a spider web.Without these webs, the crawler can’t go from webpage to webpage, and if the crawler can’t find your page, then it doesn’t exist - according to Google at least.Information architecture also plays a role in delivering a good user experience for any site visitors - decreasing bounce rate and improving engagement, all of which will greatly help in a higher Google ranking.

Link juice

Internal linking also helps with spreading link equity.Think of the goal of every search engine - providing the most relevant and useful results for all users.One of the key ways that Google can rank sites for usefulness is based on how reliable the domain is seen to be in the search engine lens.Yep, you guessed it - internal and external links are used to measure this credibility.

External links vs internal links

We're thinking a diagram will make this easier to visualise.

The more external links associated with your site, the more that Google will perceive your site as valuable and higher ranking in searches.Here’s the catch - it’s important to remember that link value can be passed on via internal linking.This helps distribute link equity throughout your website so that more pages can benefit from this boost in link authority.

Without all of these internal links pointing to pages on your site, all of the work will stop at one page - think of it as a no through road.Of course, we don’t want this - and that’s where internal linking comes in!

How to set up an ideal internal link structure

Here’s the meat.We’re diving headfirst into the best internal link strategy that you can set up to help achieve the best visibility on organic search results.

The first steps

If your site is your homepage and a number of other extra pages with no clear hierarchy of information, it makes it really hard for Google to comprehend your IA.The number one best practice, therefore, is to have as clear a structure as possible.You might be wondering - how exactly do you do this?Start simple - structure your content into pillars, like this:

Once users land on your main page, they can then very easily navigate to the most important pages - known as pillar pages.From here, click on that link to find a number of topic clusters of valuable pages, content, and more related to that specific topic.

Internal links are helping search engines crawl your site

Keep in mind to try and have as few links as possible between your home page and any other page.Also, link to secondary pages, like Contact Us or Privacy Policy, in your footer.This will help Google crawl your site, with stronger link equity to all internal pages.

Link to your most important pages

If you link to every word in your anchor text, you’ll definitely be penalised by Google.This means that you need to be strategic about all the target pages you add internal links from, and more specifically, which pages you actually link to.As has been previously mentioned, internal linking is what helps to spread internal link equality throughout your site, which will help underperforming pages rank higher up in search engine results on Google.So, now that we’ve gone over that - how can you help yourself spread link equity from high volume, high authority pages to lower ones?Using a dedicated backlink tool like Ahrefs, for one, will help you find pages on your site that are the most rich in backlinks.

Once you’ve discovered these pages, you can start to focus on adding internal links from these pages to other pages that have fewer or no links.This action doesn’t take much.But if you do this consistently, it will definitely help to give these underperforming pages a boost.It’s also an awesome way to continue to boost the page authority of a newer page on your domain!

Don't overdo your internal links

We know, we know - we’ve spent this entire article talking about how important internal links are.They are. But you also need to be conscious of how many you use - don’t link every second word to another page on your site, for example.Too many internal links will send red flags to Google and show your website as spam or low quality, which will drastically affect your page rankings.A general rule of thumb is 3-4 internal links per page, but this could go up to 10 or even 20 when writing a lengthier blog post.At the end of the day, the aim is to include internal links as strategically as possible, and always keep your page visitors in mind as first priority.

Make your links crawlable

Your web pages can only appear in search results if Google can crawl your website and follow the right links correctly.The only way this can be done is if the right link formats are in place.In the words of Google, the masters themselves:

This can be confusing to the untrained eye.Get your developer or SEO agency (ahem, us) to have a look, asking them to check your link attributes and update any that aren’t following the a href structure.When doing this, it’s also a good opportunity to make sure all of your links aren’t a nofollow link - check for the rel=nofollow tag.

Optimise your anchor text

Anchor text are the specific words that are used when linking from one page to another - the hyperlinked words, if you will.Your anchor text is what helps both search engine and your audience understand what the page is that you’re linking to, whilst providing key phrase ranking opportunities by optimising your anchor text for relevant catchphrases.Maybe Google themselves put it best, saying:The better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate and for Google to understand what the page you’re linking to is about. With appropriate anchor text, users and search engine can easily understand what the linked pages contain.So you might now be wondering - how can you write optimal link text for both users and search engines?Here are some of our top tips:

  • Use descriptive anchor text that explains what is being linked
  • Keep your linked text short, with only a few words or a short phrase
  • Use keywords you’d ideally like to rank for on Google, but avoid keyword stuffing
  • Use contextual internal links, so it appears natural within your body copy
  • Avoid the use of unnecessary, out of context text

Check your internal link setup using Google Search Console

Luckily for you, Google has a handy feature to help you examine how your site’s internal links are currently set up.

  1. Open up Google Search Console, and head to Links Report.
  2. You can see on this page how your internal links are set up - this will also include your top linked pages.
  3. After this, you’ll be able to see which pages your internal links point to the most, and which pages need just a little more love.
  4. Repeat this process at least twice a year - it’s quick and simple, and clear cut enough to help you evaluate your current internal link strategy whilst bumping up link value to important pages you’d like to rank.

How to fix broken internal links

Unlike external links, you have significant control over your internal links, meaning that you can easily fix the ones that are broken.A broken link is in reference to an internal link which is no longer working, which could be due to your website experiencing one of the following issues:

  • The destination page has been moved, or doesn’t exist
  • An invalid URL has been entered for the link by the page owner
  • The linked web page has been removed from the site

By monitoring your current internal linking structure and regularly using tools like Google Search Console or Ahrefs, you can prevent broken links on your own website or resolve them quickly before they have an impact on either your SEO or user experience.This is because broken links can cause higher bounce rates, affect conversion rates, and impact user trust.Here are four key ways you can resolve broken links:

Check for typos

This is surprisingly a common reason for broken internal links.The 404 error may be caused by a misspelling, so fix it up and your problem is solved - nice and easy!

Re-publish the trouble page

This is another handy solution for fixing broken links in terms of SEO - particularly if the missing page has backlinks that point to it.Rather than recreating the page, re-publish the old one - this will both maintain the authority of the page and prevent broken links on your site.


301 redirects are a good way to fix broken internal links - even Google themselves recommend it.Ideally, you’ll redirect to a page with relevant content, like a blog post or category page.Redirecting broken internal links can be a time consuming process, but it keeps your link juice flowing and builds page authority, which is great for your SEO.

Deleting broken links

When all else fails, it’s time to do the deed - delete the broken internal link.We would recommend to only do this if the link isn’t highly valuable to your site, otherwise, it’s highly suggested that this is only a last resort option.

The final word

Internal link building is great to build up your page authority, increase your Google rankings, and heighten the reliability of your site.You’ll be able to make it much easier for Google to crawl your website, and make it so customers will be able to easily find your site.What more could you ask for when it comes to an internal SEO linking strategy?Focus on your anchor text, a lack of broken links, and have your customer in mind, and you’re well on your way to an internally linked masterpiece.Still confused, or looking for that extra edge - not just in internal linking, but your digital marketing as a whole?We’re here to help. Get a free proposal with Local Digital today, and we’ll propel your business into brand new heights.

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Pamela Obeid
Pamela is the Digital Marketing & Podcast Coordinator at Local Digital. A self-proclaimed nerd, she thrives off all things social media, podcast, and video, propelling the LD brand to brand new heights.

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