Internal links are essential, both for user navigation and for the crawling and indexing of a web page in Google search results.
In this article we will review the main criteria that we must take into account to improve our internal linking, and thus optimize the chances of appearing in higher search results.
We will also pay attention to how to manage internal linking on large websites where manual actions can be too extensive and complex.
Why are internal links important?
An internal link, in essence, connects one piece of content to another, within the context of a web page. There are several elements that make them essential:
- User navigation: Whether on product pages, landing pages or blog posts, internal links add context and drill-down possibilities for users. Internal links can, for example, appear to display related content that expands information, to connect related products, or to direct users to key conversion pages.
- Google Search Results: When Google crawls a web page, it essentially follows its internal links. In this way Google can find out with a single crawl what the structure of a web page is and which URLs stand out from others. This crawl allows indexing in search results by Search Intent.
- Authority transfer: Each URL has authority attributes, determined by multiple elements (from the external links it receives to its own load time). When we link one URL to another, authority partially is transferred to the new URL. For this reason, if we want to promote URL "A", it is common to direct semantically related internal links to it from other URLs ("B", "C", etc.).
As we can see, internal links are a very useful tool to tell Google which are our most important URLs and thus boost them.
It is important to note here that, since Google assigns a certain crawl budget for each web page. Adding internal links without criteria or logic will surely lead to wasting the crawl budget.
Criteria to improve our internal links
At first, the internal links of a website are established by semantic affinity and to clarify and facilitate user navigation. But once we have data through Google Search Console (or other tools such as Ahrefs or Semrush), we can take actions to improve our internal linking.
Giving importance to conversion landing pages.
A classic example consists, first, in determining what are our main conversion URLs (Landing pages). Once we know what they are, we can search in the structure of our website for related URLs in which to place links to these landing pages.
If we have a landing page in which we sell sports shoes of a certain brand, it is reasonable to place internal links from similar URLs of the same level (other landing pages of shoes, but of other brands), or to place internal links from semantically related blog articles (for example: "The best shoes of 2021", or "The best shoes to give as a gift to an athlete", etc).
All these links will lead to our landing page. This landing page, when it receives them, will have a preponderance in the structure of our website. When crawling it, Google robots will transfer authority from the source URLs, thus improving your chances of ranking better.
Optimize linking with SEO criteria.
If in the previous point the main criterion is purely logical, i.e. linking by semantic affinity, there are other more technical ways to further optimize our internal linking. For example, through Google Search Console.
With this tool, we can detect URLs relevant to us that are beyond the first page of Google. For example, on page 2 of the search results.
If we take via Search Console the URLs that are located between position 11 and 15 of a given Search Intent, we can try to improve their positions and move them up to the first page by placing internal links on related URLs that direct to them.
This logic can also be applied to improve the rankings of URLs located on the first page, or URLs that we ultimately want to improve.
How to manage internal links on large websites?
The actions we have just discussed can be easily executed in the context of a small website. But what happens when we have a website with thousands of URLs and we want to improve its internal linking?
Logically, a purely quantitative difficulty arises here: there are too many URLs and establishing their internal linking can be a never-ending task.
Here there are tools that can facilitate the task of analysis. We can use filters in Google Search Console to determine by sections which internal links to locate. Or tools such as Screaming Frog, which help us to have an overview in spreadsheet version of a large number of URLs.
However, although there are tools that help us in the analysis task, the creation of internal links is still an arduous and exhausting task.
This is where more advanced tools come into play, such as DWX InLinks.
Internal linking intelligent automation.
DWX Inlinks aims to automate both the analysis process and the execution process when it comes to improving internal linking, which is especially relevant for websites with several thousand URLs.
Thanks to the LDA model of its AI platform, Inlinks is able to analyze a web page and find opportunities for improvement according to SEO criteria. The tool performs an intelligent analysis of the structure, semantics and rankings, and automatically places internal links on the URLs where they are required.
It is, therefore, a tool that applies to large websites the logics discussed above, where a human would have material and quantitative difficulties to perform both the task of analysis and execution.
Conclusions: internal linking can always be improved.
Thus, as a web page grows, we see that it is necessary, and very useful for our ranking in Google, to optimize and improve its internal linking. As usually web pages are not static, this procedure usually requires constant attention to have the maximum optimization.
As we have seen, we can perform the task of internal linking in a logical way, but we will lose key insights and metrics to improve it. If we use tools like GSC, we can improve our analysis, but we will still need to apply links manually.
That's why tools like DWX InLinks are essential today to optimize the whole process, especially on websites of unmanageable size from a manual perspective. The analysis is performed using AI, and then the internal linking is automatically applied to the website.
And in this way the SEO work is optimized both qualitatively and quantitatively, saving time and perception biases for webmasters.