How We Internally Link Content for SEO Success

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How We Internally Link Content for SEO Success

Strategic and well-thought-out internal linking is one of the core foundations of any successful SEO campaign.

Internal links help search engines crawl and index your website, pass authority from one page to the next, and allow users to navigate your site effectively.

In other words, they’re quite important.

But how do we know which pages to link to and from, how many links we should include on a page, and what anchor texts should we choose?

Let me walk you through the internal linking process we use here at SwishDM to ensure our clients win repeatedly.

Provide a List of Topically Relevant Internal Resources

Our process boils down to using internal links to pass authority to or “power up” our clients’ money pages (products, collections, services, etc.) using their supporting content.

We achieve this by organising our pages into virtual topical clusters, with topically relevant supporting blogs linking to one another and the money page/s in the cluster’s centre. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the posts and pages are siloed by URL structure this way, but visualising them using the clustering method helps us distinguish between separate groups of topics on a site.

Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/topic-clusters-seo

The first step in our process starts long before we publish content. In fact, it serves as the foundation for every piece of content we plan, and that’s providing our writers with related resources on our client’s website in our content scopes.

By cherry-picking internal links within the same (or similar) content cluster, we give our talented writers a leg-up before they’ve even started researching the topic they’re writing about. Not only does this ensure the information they’re soaking up is factually accurate and on-brand, but it gives them a handful of pages to reference and link to – and that’s where the secret lies!

For example, let’s consider that we’re writing a new blog to serve as supporting content for a collection page (or pillar page) and that the collection page is for gaming chairs. 

The new blog post discusses the “ergonomic benefits of gaming chairs.”

This site also has a well-established blog, populated with similar and relevant topics to the new blog, such as:

We can see immediately that the first topic on the list falls within our “ergonomic chair” cluster, so we should absolutely link to and from that blog post.

Of course, this is a rather convenient example, but you see the thought process behind it, right?

The second topic, “What Should I Look for in a Gaming Chair?” will almost certainly mention comfort or ergonomics to some degree, so we should link to that blog post, too. 

It’s worth mentioning that unless it’s explicitly clear from the title, we almost always skim the content to gauge whether it’s relevant enough to the piece we’re planning.

Before we’ve even considered finding external links for our new blog, we now have two excellent internal links. 

Now, that’s all well and good, but how do we find these internal resources / linking opportunities?

The Site: Search Operator

I wish I could say it was my photographic memory of every piece of content we’ve ever published, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

Some intuition is involved as you become more familiar with the website you’re working on, but most of the magic comes down to the humble site: search operator, AKA a boolean operator.

To take my hypothetical scenario one step further, let’s say our client’s domain is time.com.

By searching “site:time.com ergonomic gaming chair” in Google, we’re served a list of broad match pages indexed on time.com related to (or mentioning) ergonomic gaming chairs.

If the results aren’t quite what we’re looking for, we can wrap the keyword in quotation marks (to perform a closer-match search) or even try related keywords or phrases to find suitable matches.

Here’s a list of my five go-to search operators for finding internal linking opportunities:

Search OperatorPurposeExample
site:Search for results on a particular websitesite:swishdm.com
“ ”Search for results that include a particular word or phrasesite:swishdm.com “Internal linking”
inurl:Search for results with a particular word in the URLsite:swishdm.com inurl: backlinks
intitle:Search for results with a particular word or phrase in the meta titlesite:swishdm.com intitle: internal linking
intext:Search for results with a particular word or phrase in the contentsite:swishdm.com intext: internal linking

We’ll typically repeat this process until we’re confident we’ve gathered enough internal resources to include in our content scope. Generally speaking, we aim to provide a minimum of 2-3 links per post up to a maximum of 8-10, depending on the word count, but this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. These ranges include the pillar page/s we’re targeting and related resources.

Review the Content Ahead of Publishing

Once our writer has worked their magic, it’s then time for us to review the content to ensure:

During our first scan of the content, we ensure all the internal resources we recommended our writer link to are included, placed somewhere that makes sense contextually, and the links work correctly (think copy-paste errors, unexpected redirects, etc.).

We’ll also double-check that any additional internal links the writer has included adhere to the same criteria and link to the correct pages. For instance, there’s no benefit in linking to a random blog from 2016 that gets zero traffic if the same anchor can be linked to one of our money-making pages.

We’ll then read through the content one final time to ensure no glaring internal linking opportunities have been overlooked. If we spot any, we’ll quickly add them in; otherwise, we’ll conduct some additional content quality checks and send the piece for client approval.

“Wait! What about anchor texts?” I hear you ask. Well, we’ve experimented quite a lot with anchor text types and ratios over the years, but we’ve consistently seen the best results by giving our writers complete freedom… for the most part.

Why do we think this is the case? Because aggressive internal linking strategies are some of the most effective, and writers naturally lean towards keyword-rich anchor texts.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and we still have to change the odd anchor text occasionally, but keeping things optimised and natural is good for SEO and readers alike.

While outlinks (from your new page to existing pages) are important, inlinks (from your existing pages to your new page) are equally as important for the same reasons.

This is why, on many occasions, we use the same site: search after publishing a page to find existing content that we can update with internal links pointing to the new page.

For example, if we’ve just made a new service page live for one of our clients, and we know they have a handful of existing blogs covering the same topic, we’ll add new internal links in those blogs pointing to our shiny new service page (assuming it makes sense to do so). This method can be a great way to pass on authority and get eyeballs on a new page before it’s even started ranking.

I won’t divulge our lengthy internal link audit process in this blog—I’ll save that for another day—but I would be remiss if I left this step out entirely.

While I use the site: search operator more times in a day than I’d care to admit, the harsh reality is that it’s only so effective.

I find that our internal linking audit is a more systematic approach to finding internal linking opportunities that may have otherwise been missed. 

In a nutshell, we crawl the entire website (excluding any URL types if needed), extract the content associated with every page, and pull all of that data into a Google Sheet. We then use fairly complex custom formulas to identify which pages link where, what anchor texts are being used, and any additional internal linking opportunities.

These audits can also be super useful in diagnosing issues like over-optimised anchor text profiles and other linking factors.

Depending on the project scope, we like to carry these out a few times per year to ensure we leave no stone unturned.

Final Thoughts

At SwishDM, we understand the importance of a holistic approach to internal linking.

We implement tried-and-tested strategies for our clients so that every piece of content, new and old, is optimised from an internal linking standpoint. 

If your website could benefit from such strategies, contact one of our experts to see how we can help.

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