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FREE online SEO course: Technical SEO course with Bastian Grimm 

Introduction to internal linking and accessibility of content

34 lessonsNov 1, 2018

Recap

Introduction to Internal Linking

In our first lesson we are talking about internal linking. Because internal linking is one of the most complex things to get right in SEO. Larger sites with a lot of content and many different URLs are especially complex to master. Let's go through a couple of things that you have to consider when internally linking sites with each other. Generally, with internal links we want to link one page to another to help Google discover the content, while also creating a hierarchy to reflect which pages are more important than others.

Internal linking fulfills different tasks. It ensures the accessibility of all documents. It prioritizes content and distributes what we call link juice. More on that in just a few seconds. It helps to cluster content and creates context to explain what a page is supposed to rank for.

The most common link types are text links and image links. Their value varies depending on where they are located. So there are navigational links, content links (where most of the context is), we have links in the sidebar and links in the footer.

A link generally has two different elements that we really need to be aware of, eventually sometimes three. One is the destination (the <a href> attribute), another is the anchor text – which is describing the contents of the destination where the link points to.Thirdly we might have a nofollow attribute to it.

Another important aspect is what SEOs often refer to as link juice. The main idea is that link juice is a kind of definer of all the positive and negative characteristics that can be passed by an internal or external link from one URL to another.

Accessibility and Why It's Important

The key thing about internal linking is accessibility. Optimised website architecture really helps to ensure that accessibility for crawlers and users is given at the same time. Ideally all content should be accessible within a maximum of 3-4 clicks away from the homepage so that Google doesn't have to go from one page to another, over and over again, just to find the content. As a rule, the closer your URL is connected to the homepage, the more important it should be in your internal hierarchy. Or the other way around: if it takes – for example – 10 clicks to reach certain content, it can't really be that important, can it?

One of the main things that can significantly help with internal linking and particularly proper anchor texts are breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs essentially reflect the navigational path from where you are within a domain. You should use respective markup to ensure Google can pick up and display your breadcrumbs properly. I'd recommend visiting schema.org if you're not familiar with the implementation of breadcrumbs – you can check out all their properties and examples of how to implement them in a correct way there.

Crawl Management and the robots.txt File

Another important aspect is crawl management, in particular your robots.txt file. Make sure that your important pages that are supposed to pass link equity from one to another are not blocked in robots.txt.

Those critical links must be readable during a classic web crawl – which means you should rely on using simple <a hrefs> instead of say JavaScript. Please also refer to chapter 8 in this course where we're covering JavaScript SEO in more detail.

One of the easiest tips for internal linking is to find orphaned pages - these are essentially pages that are not internally linked any more. However, they were at some point or they are getting traffic because of other factors. If you find those orphaned pages, you could use Google Search Console or Google Analytics as a starting point for example, then basically implement and link them again from your other pages.

Enhancing Your Internal Linking with the SEMrush Site Audit Tool

To get a deeper view of how your website is performing in terms of internal linking, we suggest you use the Internal Linking report within the SEMrush Site Audit tool. It allows you to analyze internal links distribution across your website's pages, lets you see internal linking issues like broken links or excessive on-page links, and suggests on which pages to place links to other pages of your website to pass more link juice to them.