Internal link building is the most powerful SEO tactic you are not using.
It’s a tactic used by most well-known websites (i.e. those already ranking in the top 10) for one simple reason: it has the power to boost rankings like crazy.
Don’t believe me?
I am going to show you how one site used internal linking to jump from position #29 to #4 in a matter of weeks.
And another that went from position #33 to #5.
It’s also extremely quick/easy to implement and carries (almost) zero risk of Google penalties. In fact, it can be implemented pretty much overnight.
In this post, I’ll be showing you everything you need to know about internal link building.
Table Of Contents
What You Will Learn
- What internal linking is
- How internal linking helps Google to discover your content
- How strategic internal linking can bring huge ranking boosts
- How internal linking will make you more money
- 3 methods for building internal links (including my “quick ‘n’ dirty” method)
What is Internal Linking? (And Why Is It Important)
There are two types of links:
Internal and external.
Basically, an internal link will take you to a web page or resource on the same domain, whereas an external link will take you to a resource on a different domain.
They help Google understand your website and can help direct traffic to important pages.
Let me illustrate with an example…
Here are two links from my list of the best link building tools:
Link #1 is an internal link (i.e. it links to another web page on my domain) which takes you to my ultimate guide to Scrapebox (btw, this currently ranks #2 for “scrapebox”, so you can already start to see the power of internal linking!).
However, link #2 is an external link (i.e. it links to a page on a different domain) as it takes you Patrick Coombe’s website.
Both internal and external links are important for different reasons but, as this post is about internal links, here are 3 reasons why internal links matter:
#1 – Internal Links Help Google To Discover Your New Content
Google’s discovers new websites/pages in a number of ways, although most pages are almost certainly discovered via web crawling/spidering.
Matt Cutts explains more about the crawling process in this video:
Here’s a practical demonstration of how Google uses crawling to discover new web pages:
I know my blog pretty well (obviously), so I know that 554 pages = pretty much all the pages on my blog.
Great, so that’s Google’s work done, right!?
Not so fast.
Google knows websites change all the time. For example, you may periodically change the content on your “about us” page, or write a brand new blog post every few days.
They have to constantly re-crawl websites/web pages to look for new content.
This is where internal links come in.
Google relies on internal links to discover new content, this works because whenever you add a new page/post to your website it’ll almost always be linked-to from somewhere on your website.
For example, whenever I publish a new blog post, a link to it automatically appears both on my main blog page and on the appropriate category page:
Because Google has already indexed my main blog page (and category pages), their crawler will follow that internal link to discover my latest blog post during their next re-crawl.
Like I said, most content management systems (e.g. WordPress) add internal links to new pages/posts automatically, but these aren’t always in the best location for SEO purposes.
This is why you need a smart internal linking strategy (more on this later!)
#2 – Internal Links Help Google To Rank (And Better Understand) Your Web Pages
It’s rumoured that the number of internal links pointing to a web page is one of Google’s 200+ ranking factors.
In fact: Google themselves have stated that…
“The number of internal links pointing to a page is a signal to search engines about the relative importance of that page.”
Rumour confirmed, much!?
There have also been a number of case studies whereby a smart internal linking strategy has resulted in HUGE ranking boosts…
I’m talking about jumping from position #29 to #4.
And position #33 to #5.
All using nothing but smart internal linking.
But, why would this be a ranking factor?
Well, Google uses the number of internal links to a page to figure out how important that page may be.
For example, I link to my blog income reports from within my main navigation bar (which is present on every page of my website) — this tells Google that I deem this content to be of high importance.
And if I think this page is important, chances are that other people will, too.
It also passes more “link juice” to that page, meaning that it’ll be more authoritative in Google’s eyes. Here’s a good video showing how “link juice/flow” works:
Another important aspect of internal links is the anchor text used within the link(s). This helps Google to understand what that particular web page is about.
In Google’s eyes, this helps reinforce what that page is about (i.e. a review of SEMRush) and helps them feel more confident about ranking it for SEMRush-related terms.
(That post actually ranks on the first page for the phrase “SEMRush review”)
In simple terms: the anchor text you use for internal links is almost certain a ranking factor.
And if you’re worried about being penalised by Google’s Penguin (4.0) algorithm for manipulating anchor text like this, don’t worry; Penguin is much more lenient when it comes to internal links.
#3 – Internal Links Help Make You More Money (Yes, Really!)
Internal links provide a navigational aid for real-life visitors to your website.
The links in your navigation menu provide perhaps the most obvious example of this — they funnel visitors to the most important pages on your website.
But this is also true for internal links within your content.
Because it makes me more money.
Not only does my email marketing post provide a ton of value for my visitors (or, at least I hope it does!), it also contains affiliate links.
Strategically sending my traffic to this page results in more affiliate conversions and therefore, more money (ka-ching!)
Here are a few ways you can use internal links to make more money:
- Funnel people towards high-converting pages
- Funnel people towards pages with affiliate links
- Funnel people towards relevant products/services
Because Google probably uses a type of bounce rate as a ranking factor if people click back to the SERPs after visiting your site.
So while bounce rate is not a direct ranking metric (Google can’t know that for all traffic sources) it is an indicator towards people returning to the search results rather than engaging with your content.
A lower bounce rate may mean you rank higher and therefore lead to more organic traffic.
More traffic usually = more money.
3 Internal Link Building Strategies You Can Implement Today
OK, enough talk…
It’s time to build some strategic, rank boosting, revenue-increasing internal links.
Here are the 3 processes I’m going to walk you through:
- My quick ‘n’ dirty method.
- The manual method (hint: this is better than the quick ‘n’ dirty method, but is more time-consuming).
- BONUS: The power process (trying to rank a certain page? — you need this).
#1— My Quick And Dirty Internal Linking Process
When it comes to SEO, time = money.
This is because the longer one task takes, the less time you have to spend on other important tasks (this is known as opportunity cost).
My 3-step quick ‘n’ dirty process can be implemented super-quickly, yet it still leads to incredible results.
Note: This method only works for WordPress-based websites.
Here’s the basic process:
- Create a list of URLs and primary target keywords
- Find the LSI keywords for each of those primary keywords
- Use the SEO Auto Linker plugin to add strategically-placed internal links in seconds.
Important: I’ve created a Google Sheet to make this process insanely straightforward. I recommend making a copy of it before you begin.
Let’s get started.
Step #1 — Gather A List Of URLs And Primary Keywords
Some of you will already have a list of URLs mapped to primary keywords.
If so, fantastic — paste them into the first tab of your Google Sheet (this is the one titled: “#1 — URLs / Keywords”) and jump straight to step #2.
If not, no worries, you can use either SEMRush (click here for a free 14-day trial) or URL Profiler (again, 14-day free trial available here) to export a list of keywords your web pages already rank for.
But first, you need to gather a list of URLs from your website.
If you have a sitemap (which you should), you can simply copy/paste the list of URLs from the sitemap into the sheet.
But, if not, here’s another super-quick way to do this:
Go to Google and search for the following:
This will return a list of all the pages on your website.
I also recommend setting the number of results per page to 100 under “search settings”, like this:
You can then use this free Chrome bookmarklet to scrape all 100 results from the SERPs.
Paste these into the URLs column in the Google Sheet.
Here’s how to do this using each of these tools:
How To Extract Keywords With SEMRush
Go to the URL report (under Organic Research) in SEMRush.
Paste in one of the URLs from your Google Sheet (hint: it makes sense to start with the first one on the list!)
Scroll down and you should see a list of organic search keywords for that page.
Open the .csv in Excel, the copy/paste the list of keywords into this free tool — this will convert the list of keywords (which are exported into a single column) into a comma-separated list.
Copy the comma-separated list (on the right) into the “primary keywords” column in your Google Sheet.
Rinse and repeat for the rest of the URLs on your list.
How To Extract Keywords With URL Profiler
URL Profiler connects to Google Search Console to extract the keywords your website already ranks for.
Here’s how to do it:
Copy/paste your list of URLs into URL Profiler, then tick the “search analytics” checkbox.
Click Run Profiler.
URL Profiler should spit out a .csv showing all URLs and their corresponding keywords.
Annoyingly, these keywords are divided into multiple columns, so you’ll need to use this free tool to convert this into a comma-separated list.
Copy all the keywords from the .csv for a particular URL.
Paste them into this tool.
Under Step 3: Choose output options, check the comma option under the options for Output Field Separator.
Click Convert CSV to Delimited.
Copy/paste the comma-separated list of keywords into the Primary Keywords column in your Google Sheet.
Step #2 — Find The LSI Keywords For Your Primary Keywords
“LSI keywords” is really just a technical term form “related keywords”.
For example, if we take the keyword “product launch formula”, an LSI keyword could be “product launches” or “launching a product”.
Because you’ve already got a list of keywords for each of your URLs, finding LSI keywords should be a breeze.
Start by brainstorming related keywords. Add them to your spreadsheet.
Still, brainstorming will only get you so far, so here are a couple of other methods:
How To Find LSI Keywords With Google
Copy one of the keywords from your Google Sheet and paste it into Google.
Scroll to the bottom of the results page and you should see a list of related searches.
Copy any relevant keywords into the LSI Keywords column in your Google Sheet (note: not all keywords will be relevant, so be picky!)
Rinse and repeat for the rest of the keywords (and for all the URLs) on your list.
How To Find LSI Keywords With LSIGraph.com
Go to LSIGraph.com and paste in a keyword from your spreadsheet.
It should then kick back a bunch of LSI keywords.
Add any relevant ones to the LSI Keywords column in your spreadsheet.
Step #3 — Add These Keywords To Your Website With SEO Auto Linker
Good news: most of the hard work is done.
SEO Auto Linker will handle pretty much everything from here.
But, first things first, you need to install the plugin.
Once installed, go to the plugin page in your WP dashboard and click Add New Link.
Next, go back to your Google Sheet and select the tab labeled “#2 – For WP”.
This sheet pulls all of the keywords you entered into a neat list that you can then paste into WordPress.
All you have to do is select a URL from the dropdown.
Copy/paste the URL and all the keywords from the “COPY ME” column into SEO Auto Linker, like this:
SEO Auto Linker will comb through your website looking for occurrences of those keywords in other posts/pages. If it finds any, it’ll automagically add an anchored link to your specific blog post.
#2 — The (Better) Manual Internal Linking Process
SEO Auto Linker works well — the only issue is that you don’t have full control over exactly where these links are placed, as the plugin decides this for you.
In my opinion, it’s much better to do this manually.
That way, you can control exactly where the internal links are placed and ensure they make sense and attract clicks.
Here’s how to do it manually:
- Create a list of URLs and target keywords.
- Use Google to find relevant pages/posts on which to add internal links.
- Rinse and repeat whenever you publish new content.
I’m not going to go over gathering URLs and primary keywords again — simply use the methods laid out earlier in the post to do this.
However, I have created an alternate Google Sheet for this process, so I recommend making a copy of this and using it-
Here’s how it should look when you have your URLs + keywords entered:
Next, you can use the site: search + target keyword command in Google to find all other pages (from your domain) that Google thinks are relevant to a particular topic.
I’m well-aware that performing this search correctly over and over again can be a bit of a hassle, so I’ve built this into the Google Sheet to make things super straightforward.
Go to the 2nd tab of the sheet named “#2 – For Google”, select the URL you’re building internal links to from the dropdown, then hit the “Click here” button.
This will take you straight to the Google search — no hassle!
Let’s assume I was looking to build some internal links to my 6-figure product launch formula.
I would select that URL in the spreadsheet (see above), open the Google search results, then pluck out any pages that would make sense to add internal links from.
Here’s a page that fits the bill:
So, it’s now simply a case of reading through the post and looking for appropriate places to internally link.
This looks like a good place:
Next, I simply login to my WP dashboard and add a link in that location.
Here’s the final result:
Rinse and repeat this process for each page on your website.
Important tip: Do this process every time you publish a new blog post or web page on your website. Not only will this lead to Google indexing the page much quicker, it’ll also give it a much needed ranking boost.
#3 – BONUS: Power Process
Is there a particular page you want to rank above all others, yet it’s nowhere to be seen in the SERPs?
If so, you need my power process.
Here’s how it works:
Here’s how to do it:
Let’s say I wanted to boost rankings for my SERPed Ninja SEO Tools tutorial.
I would first need to find relevant, powerful pages on my website from which to add internal links from.
Ahrefs can help with this.
Choose the “Best By Links” report from the “Pages” section on the left-hand menu.
This will show you a list of the most powerful pages on your website, ordered by # of referring domains (i.e. backlinks). In general, more backlinks = more power.
Look through this list and make a note of any pages that you could potentially add an internal link from. Make sure they’re relevant!
Right away, my comparison of backlink checkers stands out.
With 110 referring domains, it’s certainly powerful.
And, because SERPed actually pulls in data from some of the backlink checkers I mention on that page, this would be the perfect page from which to mention (and add a link to) my SERPed guide.
Looking at the page and scrolling down:
I think the conclusion would be the perfect place to add the link.
Why? Because I mention Majestic (i.e. one of the tools SERPed pulls data from).
I also talk about positives and negatives for each of the backlink checkers, so perhaps I could mention that SERPed kills two birds with one stone by pulling in data from more than one of these tools?
Adding a relevant internal link like this would give this page a huge boost.
But there’s no need to stop there; keep working your way down the list of top pages on Ahrefs — there may be other pages you can add an internal link from.
This will give the page even more of a boost!
Important: Just make sure to vary the anchor text between pages!
Wrapping It Up
Internal linking is crazily powerful — don’t neglect it!
Plus, unlike regular ol’ link building (from external websites), internal links are entirely under your full control.
You can decide:
- Where they’re placed
- What anchor text they use
- Which pages they link to
I strongly recommend you give this a shot right now.
Let me know how it goes! :)