Create an Internal Linking Strategy and Maximize Your SEO

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A proper internal linking strategy is decisive in order to maximize your website's potential in search engines. Working on your internal links allows you to give more authority to the relevant content and also makes the unseen content more noticeable. At the same time you ensure that the structure of your site is more efficient for users and search engines.

When we talk about the large areas of (on-site) organic positioning, we find three large areas of action: content, user experience and site architecture (including browsing, which translates into internal linking).

In the case of links, organizations have always been more dedicated to external links. After all, working on them is also working on the relevance of your brand or your organization, interfacing with the interlocutors that you are interested in.

In contrast, the internal linking architecture is usually a largely ignored factor, despite the fact that SEOs know that a good internal linking strategy is an essential step to achieve good rankings. A lack of focus and resources in this area makes it more difficult to convince stakeholders about the need to invest resources and dedication on this issue.

Elements to Consider in Internal Linking: PageRank and Its Transfer

Internal linking remains as important as it was when Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page came up with it.

PageRank (PR) is a mathematical formula that evaluates the “value of a web page” by analyzing the quantity and quality of other web pages that link to it.

How Does PageRank Work?

(from a simplified view)

PageRank is divided evenly by the total number of links on a web page.

Google takes into account three factors to calculate the PageRank of a website:
  • How many pages link to that website and their quality
  • The total number of outbound links that each external page has and that links to that website
  • The PageRank of each page that links to that website

The complete formula for PageRank introduced in the original Google paper as a function solves the following equation:

The further away a page in number of links is from a quality website, the less benefit it receives from it. Also the effect of that link has less importance on the PageRank of the page. For example, if a travel blog is linked directly to website, that link has a great impact on its PageRank. But if that travel blog links to a third page and the third to a fourth, that fourth page already makes a much lower profit than the first page linked to

As links move from one page to another, this loss of impact is calculated by the loss of probability that a user will continue to click on the links while browsing.

It is known as the “Damping Factor” and it simulates the probability that any user will continue to click on links while web browsing. The likelihood of clicking a link when visiting one page is high, but the likelihood of clicking a link on that second page is lower, and so on.

PageRank and Its Damping Factor

The "value" of the link decreases with each "step"

Since PageRank continues to be a very important factor in how Google orders its search results, defining a correct flow of links within our own website is a very important task to reinforce the pages that we want to stand out. There are various tasks that we can do to achieve this.

It is also important to consider the location of the links on the page. Google, due to its registered "Reasonable Surfer" Patent, considers links that get clicks more valuable than those that do not get clicks. For example, a link that is at the top in the central body of the page is more valuable than one in the footer or in a menu.

How Does It work? What Are the Advantages of Working with Internal Linking?

Creating an internal linking strategy will allow us to improve our positioning through a more efficient distribution of internal authority.

For this we must start, as always in SEO, with an audit of internal links, which allows us to identify the most relevant opportunities in terms of internal linking.

Thanks to the audit, we can discover things like:
  • Broken internal links
  • Links to URLs that redirect
  • Links to URLs that are no longer important
  • Important content that is isolated and not linked in any important location on our website
  • Orphan pages that do not receive links
  • Pagetypes that receive few links
  • Segments that receive few links
  • Vertical / Horizontal linking structures

To start auditing, we have to crawl our website and we have to be able to analyze the entire structure of the site. There are many crawling tools. One of the most popular is Screaming Frog. DWX Crawler also performs this function. Although it has a great advantage: with the data that it obtains, it answers relevant questions and we can make decisions and start acting.

By conducting an audit of our website, we will obtain:
  • A replica of the hierarchical and related structure of our site, with the links connecting the different pages, categories, subcategories and products.
  • The possibility of analyzing clusters of pages to understand how they are related to each other, if they have an internal link that benefits them or if they are too isolated.

Thus, after crawling the website, we will have the necessary information to identify the weak points, propose quick fixes and obtain real data that will promote (in the organization) the need to create an internal linking strategy that maximizes the visibility of our most relevant pages in search engines.

In addition to the identification of errors in the internal links, we can clearly visualize what the structure of the website really is by crawling the website and by highlighting the relationships between the different URLs or pages. In the case of not having previously worked on improving internal linking, it is certain that we will identify weak points in that structure.

If the website has a large volume of pages, the SEO will surely find more weak points. The greater the volume of content or products, the greater the need to categorize and subcategorize them, tag them or use submenus to facilitate faster access to all content. These decisions are usually made with the best of intentions but without taking into account their effect on the entire site and on the relevance of this content for search engines.

However, with the complexity of a website and a high volume of pages, deciding the best way to approach an improvement project also becomes a complex task. How do we know what are the best internal linking practices for complex websites?

Automation in the Internal Linking Strategy

In the same way that occurs in all digital areas (from the core operation of search engines themselves, through traffic management to websites, attribution models for measuring results or any other digital discipline), when it comes to creating an internal linking strategy, the optimal solution is to carry out decisions based on data and technology applied to the understanding and measurement of our business. We talk about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

After having detected internal linking errors and having identified weak points within the structure... How do we proceed?

It is not an easy task to identify the pages to be enhanced. We are talking about hundreds or thousands of pages, and time and resources are limited.

Should we enhance those pages that are considered relevant in terms of conversion? Are we 100% sure that they are the most important pages for our clients? What data prove that relevance?

The automation of processes in relation to the optimization of the internal linking of a website has two very positive effects. On the one hand, it gives more time and resources to the SEO manager, so he/she can dedicate this "extra" time to other relevant points of search engine optimization that do need his/her strategic capacity. And on the other hand, the fact that the automation process bases its output on verified data facilitates internal sales and guarantees results.

DWX Solution balances the internal links of a website (based on the real performance of the URLs and on the analysis of the internal structure) to decide if a URL can be positioned on the first page of search engines by including more internal links from other pages of the website to it. For this reason, DWX is also able to identify URLs that are overlinked.

The link balancing and the redistribution of authority on the pages are produced using its own testing and validation technology. The tool learns and iterates on its own decisions once it begins to collect data, so it is a very useful solution to improve the internal linking strategy of any organization.

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