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Internal Linking Strategy: 10 Common Mistakes to Avoid

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Search engine optimization depends on multiple factors. One of the most important ones is link building. However, that is also the one where people can make some mistakes. That is especially true for internal linking.

The process may look easy. You take some internal links and add them to your page. But, there are many pitfalls and common mistakes to avoid. Here is everything you need to know about the internal linking strategy and how to make it right the first time!

When it comes to link building, it is essential to understand good and bad practices. Let us start with an easy one. When we talk about using the right link, we mean using links that will benefit your SEO. You cannot just put any link thinking it will add value to your search engine optimization. The four most common bad types of links are:

  • Broken links
  • Temporary links
  • Redirect links
  • Masked links

Broken links happen due to poor website maintenance. The link itself was operational at one moment, but you failed to notice when an error appeared. The link does not work, and you must either fix or replace it.

Temporary links lead to a placeholder page, telling your users that the page is out of use due to an issue. They usually convey the “404 Page Not Found” message. While they serve a purpose, keeping actual page URLs and fixing them fast is much better.

Internal Linking Strategy: 10 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Redirect links do as they say. They take a user to a different page. If you create a chain of emails that takes the user on a rollercoaster ride from one page to another, they might decide to leave your website.

Masked links, or cloaked URLs, may seem deceptive. Because of that, they are not considered the best SEO practice. They mask the real URL by showing something different. A visitor might think they are on one website, but they are on a whole other domain.

2. Using the no-follow attribute

When adding a link, you can edit its code in the backend to achieve a specific thing. You can assign two attributes to a link: “do-follow” and “no-follow.” While the first tell Google to crawl your page and inspect the link, the second tells it to ignore the link.

No-follow links help your page to get essential referral traffic. But they don’t contribute to your SEO. That is why keeping both types of links in balance is essential.

3. Not linking to relevant pages

Every internal link should add value to the page it sits on. If you are writing an article about a specific topic, your links should be tightly connected to that topic. You add value to your readers by creating reader-friendly SEO content. If you add links with irrelevant pages, that might seem spammy, and it will negatively reflect on your SEO.

Link stuffing is never good for your website. Like with keywords, you want to use an optimal number of internal links to achieve the best results. Furthermore, you want to spread them out evenly, do not put links close to one another.

The idea is to keep the user on that page for some time and give them another source of information they can follow. However, if you keep all the links closely grouped, the user might leave the page and never return. Also, too many internal links seem forceful to Google, and they do not contribute to your SEO.

We mentioned how you should spread links evenly on the page. There are specific rules about placing links in an SEO-friendly way.

Internal Linking Strategy: 10 Common Mistakes to Avoid

For example, bad practice is turning your headers into links. Crawlers will not look at your headers correctly, affecting your search ranking.

An anchor is a phrase that you link to another page. The clickable part of a sentence will take the reader to the linked page. These anchors are important because they should tell the user what to expect if they click on a link.

Using anchors that trick the users or don’t describe the destination page accurately will result in a bad customer experience. As a result, users will leave your website, affecting the traffic and the bounce rate.

7. Not using keyword research to create anchors

Even though you might use a descriptive anchor, if it does not contribute to keyword relevance, it will not be as impactful on the SEO. Every page must have a purpose, and that purpose reflects through keywords. The anchors you use should contribute to the URL of the page they link to and the main keyword for that page.

8. Not structuring your website properly

Navigational links are also part of your internal linking strategy. The navigation menu helps the users navigate your website to quickly find what they need. If you want that your navigational links play an essential SEO role, you need to structure your website properly. Everything needs to be categorized and in a logical order. A website map is an essential element of SEO.

9. Be mindful of the crawl depth

Crawl depth represents the number of clicks the visitor must click to reach the homepage. That is a crucial element of website architecture. The bigger the depth number is, the less important page seems to the crawler engines.

Internal Linking Strategy: 10 Common Mistakes to Avoid

You should name all links by using relevant descriptions. A visitor should be able to tell what is on the page by inspecting the URL. The naming convention for URLs is also significant for SEO because it gives meaning to your pages.

Always descriptively create URLs, so Google can tell what is on every page. Avoid using random words or combinations of letters and numbers to name your links.

Here are 10 Tips for a successful Internal Linking Strategy

  1. Prioritizing user experience

When implementing internal linking, it’s crucial to prioritize user experience above all else. Ensure that your links provide value to your visitors, offering relevant and useful information. Consider your audience’s needs and expectations and link to content that addresses their questions or concerns. By focusing on user experience, you’ll not only improve your SEO but also foster user engagement and loyalty.

Example: If you have a blog post about the benefits of yoga, consider linking to related posts discussing different yoga poses or the best yoga mats for beginners. These links will be valuable to readers interested in learning more about yoga and will keep them engaged with your content.

  1. Leveraging contextual links

Contextual links are internal links placed within the main body of your content. They are more valuable for SEO and user experience, as they naturally blend with the context and provide additional information on a specific topic. To make the most of contextual links, ensure that they are relevant to the surrounding content and add value for your readers.

Example: In a blog post about healthy eating, you might mention the benefits of a specific fruit, such as blueberries. You can then include a contextual link to another post that delves deeper into the health benefits of blueberries or provides delicious blueberry recipes.

  1. Creating cornerstone content

Cornerstone content, also known as pillar content, refers to high-quality, in-depth articles that cover a specific topic comprehensively. These articles serve as a foundation for your website’s content and can help establish your expertise and authority within your niche. By creating cornerstone content and linking to it from relevant blog posts, you can improve your site’s overall structure and SEO.

Example: If you run a website about digital marketing, you could create cornerstone content on topics like SEO, content marketing, and social media marketing. Then, link to these cornerstone articles from other relevant blog posts to reinforce your website’s structure and drive more traffic to these foundational pieces.

  1. Using descriptive and relevant anchor text

Anchor text is the clickable text of a link, which should provide a clear and accurate description of the linked content. Using descriptive and relevant anchor text not only improves user experience but also helps search engines understand the context of your links. Be sure to avoid over-optimizing your anchor text with exact-match keywords, as this can appear manipulative and lead to penalties from search engines.

Example: Instead of using generic anchor text like “click here” or “learn more,” use descriptive phrases that inform readers what they can expect from the linked content, such as “our beginner’s guide to meditation” or “10 easy exercises to improve flexibility.”

  1. Balancing internal and external links

While internal linking is crucial for SEO, it’s essential to maintain a balance between internal and external links. External links, or outbound links, point to other websites and can help establish your content’s credibility and relevance. By including both internal and external links in your content, you can provide a more comprehensive and valuable resource for your readers.

Example: In a blog post about the latest marketing trends, you might include internal links to your previous articles on related topics, as well as external links to authoritative sources that support your claims or provide additional insights.

  1. Regularly auditing and updating your internal links

Your internal linking strategy should be an ongoing process that evolves with your website and its content. Regularly auditing and updating your internal links can help you identify broken or outdated links, remove or replace irrelevant links, and discover new linking opportunities. This proactive approach ensures your internal linking remains effective and relevant, contributing positively to your SEO and user experience.

Example: Schedule periodic link audits, such as quarterly or bi-annually, to review your website’s internal linking structure. Use tools like Google Search Console or Screaming Frog to identify broken links, and update or remove them accordingly. Additionally, revisit older content to find opportunities to link to newer, relevant articles.

  1. Implementing breadcrumb navigation

Breadcrumb navigation is a secondary navigation system that shows users their location on your website and the path they took to get there. Breadcrumbs can improve user experience by making it easier for visitors to navigate your site and understand its structure. They also provide additional internal linking opportunities and can positively impact your SEO.

Example: If your website has a hierarchical structure with categories and subcategories, you can implement breadcrumb navigation to display the path from the homepage to the current page. For instance, a breadcrumb trail might look like this: Home > Category > Subcategory > Article Title.

  1. Leveraging the power of internal link plugins (for WordPress users)

If your website runs on WordPress, you can take advantage of internal link plugins to help automate and optimize your internal linking strategy. These plugins can analyze your content and suggest relevant internal links based on keywords, categories, or tags, making it easier to manage and maintain your internal linking structure.

Example: Some popular internal link plugins for WordPress include Link Whisper, Yoast SEO Premium, and SEOPress. Research each plugin’s features and choose one that best aligns with your internal linking strategy and goals.

  1. Monitoring and analyzing internal link performance

Tracking and analyzing the performance of your internal links can help you identify areas for improvement and optimize your strategy. Use analytics tools like Google Analytics to monitor metrics such as click-through rates, bounce rates, and time spent on linked pages. This data can provide valuable insights into how effectively your internal links are engaging and retaining users, and inform adjustments to your strategy as needed.

Example: If you notice that a particular internal link has a low click-through rate, consider changing its anchor text or placement within the content to make it more appealing to users. Alternatively, if a linked page has a high bounce rate, evaluate the content on that page and make improvements to better meet user expectations.

  1. Avoiding over-optimization

While internal linking is essential for SEO, it’s important not to over-optimize your strategy. Over-optimization can occur when you use too many links, excessively optimize anchor text with keywords, or create unnatural linking patterns. These practices can appear manipulative to search engines and result in penalties that negatively impact your search rankings.

Example: To avoid over-optimization, focus on creating a natural and user-friendly internal linking structure. Use an appropriate number of links based on the length and depth of your content, and vary your anchor text to include both exact-match and partial-match keywords, as well as generic phrases.

That is how to create a bulletproof internal linking strategy

You have nothing to worry about if you follow these internal linking strategy rules. Be mindful of these potential mistakes, and try to avoid them as soon as possible. Remember to regularly maintain your website to ensure all links work. Once you use these best practices, your website will quickly reach the first page!

Author Lewis Archer

Lewis Archer is an SEO expert with over 12 years of experience. As a professional writer for Movers Development, he wants to create valuable content that will bring the topic of SEO closer to his readers.