Internal linking for SEO in a nutshell

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Let’s start from the beginning.

What is an internal link?

An internal link is a hyperlink that connects one page of a website to another page within the same domain.

These internal links are used to navigate between different pages or sections of a website.

They also help users and search engines explore and understand the structure and content of your website.

From an SEO perspective, internal linking is important as it helps distribute page authority and relevance throughout the website.

When one page links to another page, it passes its credibility on to the second page, bumping up that page’s chances of showing up in search results.

Some SEOs call that credibility “link juice”.

Some SEOs call it “authority”.

But Google refers to this credibility as PageRank.

PageRank is a system Google uses to measure a webpage’s importance based on the number and quality of links pointing to it.

It’s one of the most widely used metric to measure page authority. 

So that’s the term we’ll be using in this handbook.  

Let’s look at how you can use internal links to keep your website’s user experience and SEO up to scratch.

I’ve packed this guide with some simple, practical tips on how to use internal links.

But before we dig into how to use internal links, let’s look at the different types of links you can use on your website.

Types of internal links

1. Navigation links
Navigation links are typically found in menus, navigation bars, or sidebars and are used to help users navigate between different sections or pages of a website.
2. Contexual links

Contextual links are links embedded inside the content of a webpage and are relevant to the context of the surrounding text.

These links provide additional info or direct users to related pages or resources within the website.

If you want a quick lesson on contextual links, just view any Wikipedia page:

Contextual links can improve user engagement and help distribute PageRank (link equity) through the website.

3. Internal anchor links

Internal anchor links, also known as anchor text links or jump links, are links that point to a specific section or anchor point within the same webpage.

They are often used to navigate long-form content or to provide easy access to specific sections of a webpage.

For example, Runner’s World use these links in their longer review articles.

First, you press on the link:

Then it takes you the section of the page you want to read about:

Internal anchor links can improve user experience by allowing users to quickly jump to relevant sections of content.

4. Image links

Image links are links that are embedded within images on a webpage.

When clicked, these images redirect users to another page or resource within the same website.

Image links are commonly used for visual navigation or to highlight calls-to-action (CTAs) within the content.

5. Footer links

Footer links are links placed in the footer section of a webpage.

They provide quick access to important pages.

These links are often used to link to privacy policies, terms of service, contact information, sitemaps, or other relevant pages.

But I also use it to link to key resources on my website.

6. Pagination links

Pagination links are used to navigate between multiple pages of content, such as blog posts, category pages, or search results pages.

These links typically include “Next,” “Previous,” or numbered page links to help users navigate through the content.

I use numbered Pagination links on my blog page:

How to use internal links: 5 tips

Find internal linking opportunities on Google

Internal linking opportunities are everywhere on your website.

Of course, it’s easier to uncover these opportunities when you have access to an SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs.

For example, Ahrefs have their Site Audit tool which makes finding broken links, orphan pages and internal linking opportunities a breeze.

But not everyone has full access to SEO tools like Ahrefs or Semrush.

If that’s the case, you’ll need to be more resourceful when it comes to finding your internal linking opportunities.

Luckily, the only tool you’ll need for the job is Google.

Step 1: Go to Google

Step 2: Use site operator to find internal link opportunities 

Type this Google site operator into the search bar to search your website for related pages:

Site: [] + “keyword”

It’s a quick way to find all the pages where your target keyword appears on your website.

For example, I recently finished a guide on SEO for SaaS companies.

Let’s say I wanted to find all the mentions of SaaS on my website. 

I can simply Google this query:

Site: [] + “saas”

And when I type that query into Google, I get this: 

From there, I can look through all these pages and see if there any opportunities to link to my new guide.

Try out the site operator yourself.

In as little as 30 seconds, you can filter Google’s search results and find internal linking opportunities for your content. 

Update old page with links to new pages

This is one of my favourite internal linking strategies:

Update your older pages with links to your new ones. 

Every 3 – 6 months, circle back to your older articles and weave in some links to your new articles. 

That’s all there is to it. 

If you want to simplify the process of finding those relevant, old pages, use the Google site: operator search command I mentioned earlier. 

Anchor text

Anchor text refers to the clickable text in a hyperlink.

This text right here is an example of anchor text.

Anchor text is important for internal links because it provides valuable context to both users and search engines about the content of the linked page.

Here’s why anchor text matters for your internal links:

User experience🎢

Descriptive anchor text helps users understand what to expect when they click on a link.

It provides clear guidance and sets expectations about the content they’ll find on the linked page.

Your anchor text should reflect what the linked page is about. 

This improves the overall user experience and reduces confusion.


Search engines use anchor text to under the context and relevance of linked pages.

Descriptive anchor text helps search engine crawlers determine the topic or theme of the linked page. 

And that can influence the page’s ranking in search results.

These are the main types of anchor text and when to use each one:

1. Exact match anchor text

Exact match anchor text uses the exact target keyword of the page you’re linking to.

For example, if the target page was about best running shoes, then the exact match anchor text would be best running shoes.

  • This type of anchor text works well if you want to target specific keywords and signal relevance to search engines. 
  • But use exact match anchor text sparingly. Avoid over-optimising or your content will sound unnatural.

2. Partial match anchor text

Partial match anchor text is when a variation of the linked page’s keyword is in the link.  

Let’s go back to the running landing page scenario.

For our best running shoes landing page, we could also use the partial match anchor text top-rated running footwear.

  • Partial match anchor text provides some keyword relevance while adding diversity to your anchor text profile. 

3. Descriptive anchor text

Descriptive anchor text provides context or a brief description of the linked page’s content or topic.

For example, we could add more detail to our anchor text with in-depth guide to choosing the right running shoes.

  • Descriptive anchor text helps users understand the content they’re about to access and encourages clicks by providing clear expectations.
  • It’s good for guiding users as they know exactly what they’ll get. 

Remove or replace broken links

Broken links are internal links that no longer lead to their intended destination.

Nine times out of ten, this happens because the page you were originally linking to has been moved or deleted.

When users run into too many broken links on your website, it makes the user experience worse.

The result? Increased bounce rates because users are abandoning your site out of frustration.

And that’s not ideal. 

So let’s talk about how to find and fix broken links. 

Step 1: Go to Deadlink Checker’s website.

Enter your website URL into the search bar and hit the search button:

After about 2 minutes of waiting, you’ll land on this page:

There’s only one problem: Dead Link Checker will only analyse up to 2,000 URLs. 

So if you have a website that’s larger than most you’ll want to invest in the full version.

You can sign up for one month, fix all of the broken links on your website and then cancel your membership. 

Step 2: Use Dead Link Checker to locate broken links.

On to the next step.

Once you know where your broken links are, you need to go into your website’s backend and replace or remove those broken links.

You’ll need to know two things at this stage:

  1. The page that the broken link is on 
  2. The anchor text of the broken link 

Luckily Dead Link Checker gives us both.

You can find all the info you need in the Source link text column.

For example, let’s take a look at the top result on the report I ran for TechCrunch’s website:

If I press the worst demand in a decade anchor text, it’ll take me to the page that has the broken link. 

This is the page:

This is the broken link:

From there, you simply remove or replace the link.


Fix orphan pages

Orphan pages are the web pages on your website that are not linked to from any other page within the website.

They are the isolated pages that your users can’t find through navigation menus, internal links, or any other pages. 

Orphan pages typically have no incoming internal links and are not part of the website’s hierarchical structure.

Now these orphan pages can appear on your website for many different reasons, for example:

  • Content removal: pages that were once linked to but have had their internal links removed or deleted, leaving them isolated.
  • Incorrect URL structure: pages with URLs that were mistyped or not properly configured, resulting in no internal links pointing to them.
  • Site architecture changes: changes in the website’s navigation structure or redesigns that inadvertently leave some pages disconnected from the rest of the website.
  • Poor internal linking: pages that were published but were never properly integrated into the website’s navigation or linking structure.

Frequently asked questions about internal linking

Link to these pages:

  • Pages that are relevant to the topic or content of the current page.
  • Pages that you want to bump up in search engine rankings.
  • Pages that contain valuable information or resources related to the current content.
  • Pages that are important for guiding users through your website’s navigation or conversion funnel.
  • Pages that need to be indexed or crawled by search engines more frequently.

Thanks for reading.

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