Good internal linking has advantages for the visibility of pages and ensures a positive user experience. Here, we will take a look at how you can analyse and optimise internal links.
Backlinks are all very well, but don’t forget the internal linking of your website. If you set internal links skilfully, you will benefit from many advantages. Above all, you reduce the bounce rate and promote a good ranking for individual pages.
All good reasons to analyse and optimise internal links. The big advantage: In contrast to external linking, you are not dependent on others. You just need to know what to look out for.
Why internal links are so important for SEO – an overview of the benefits
Users and search engine crawlers can orientate themselves with internal links.
This has the following benefits:
- Good linking ensures that the search engine crawler indexes all subpages of your website. Otherwise, a page may not be recognised by Google.
- Internal links with meaningful anchor texts help Google understand what a page is about and for which keywords it should rank.
- You can use them to distribute link juice from external links internally on your website. This means you can give more link juice to important pages and vice versa. This way, it is possible for subpages to rank even for highly competitive keywords.
- Internal links help users find their way around pages. In particular, they quickly find what they are looking for. This lowers the bounce rate and has a positive effect on the conversion rate.
For these reasons, internal links are considered an important ranking factor. Internal linking is also easier than obtaining backlinks. You don’t have to worry about issues such as bad neighbourhoods. Central keywords in the anchor text are desirable here. You can also be generous with the number of internal links. We will go into this in more detail.
Important: You will achieve optimal effects on the ranking if valuable external and skilfully placed internal links work together.
Analysing internal links – how to proceed
Websites change. Content is archived, while new content is created. As a result, links also change. This is why it is important to regularly analyse internal links. The same applies if you have never given your linking any thought before. It is best to take a systematic approach.
If you want to analyse internal links, you will need a complete overview. To do this, you can
- manually collect all internal links on your website and enter them in an Excel document or
- use a tool that independently identifies the internal links.
If you have a lot of time, choose the first method. Otherwise, we recommend a tool.
SISTRIX gives you an overview of all incoming and outgoing internal links for selected subpages. You can also use tools to visualise link structures.
When analysing links, don’t just pay attention to where they lead, but also to what anchor texts they have.
Checklist for internal links
The following questions will help you analyse and, above all, optimise internal links:
How many links do subpages have?
Google Search Essentials state:
Limit the number of links on a page to a reasonable level. The maximum number should be a few thousand.
You can therefore be generous. But don’t take the 1,000 links literally. For one thing, visitors can feel overwhelmed by too many links. Furthermore, the link juice that a page can pass on is distributed to all the internal links that originate from it. The more of them there are, the less link juice they transport individually.
Which anchor texts do I use?
Do you still have links that link from words like “here”? Then it’s about time you replaced this anchor text with something meaningful. Ideally, it should be the central or one of the central keywords of the target page.
This helps the Googlebot understand where the link leads. This way, you also boost the ranking of the target page for the relevant keywords.
Google itself says:
[T]he 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.
Wikipedia is a prime example of pages that link successfully with keywords. It doesn’t matter if you have several links with the same anchor text. However, both should make sense: link and anchor text. That brings us to the next point.
Do my links make sense?
It doesn’t make much sense for visitors if you link to a page about sandals on a page about winter shoes. In contrast, a link to a page with hats and scarves or to a page with further information on winter shoes would be logical in the right context.
Ideally, links should align with the next logical click by users. This way, you create a second navigation in the main content and visitors don’t have to keep to reorienting themselves to the main navigation.
Also make sure that the text flows smoothly and that your content is not interrupted by forced links.
Where are the links?
Aside from links in the navigation, links in the main content have a high priority. Place the links closer to the beginning of texts. Links in the footer should be disregarded.
Are links recognisable as such?
Visually emphasise links by underlining them and/or highlighting them in a different colour, for example.
Are there any broken links?
Once you have decided to analyse internal links, watch out for broken links. Often, when pages are frequently reorganised, links may lead to nowhere. Neither users nor search engines like this. Sometimes redirects are also necessary to avoid broken links.
Another way to check the link structure
If you are unsure how good the internal linking on your site is, carry out your own test to analyse the internal links.
Put yourself in the visitor’s shoes and move through your website:
- Can you reach all relevant subpages via internal links?
- Do you often have to go back to the main navigation, or can you move almost completely through the main content with the help of links in the content?
- Are there instances where you end up in a “dead end”?
- Do links disrupt the flow of reading, or do they appear unnatural in the text?
Because internal linking plays an important role in the ranking of websites and the user experience, it is important to regularly analyse internal links. A tool can help you do this. Consider the tips listed here when setting new links on your website and keep the big picture in mind. This will create a positive experience for visitors and search engines.