The Internal Link Building Strategy That Increases Search Traffic

Internal link building is the most powerful SEO tactic you are not using.

It’s a tactic used by most well-known websites…

(i.e. those already ranking in the top 10) for one simple reason:

 It has the power to boost your search traffic like crazy.
 
Don’t believe me?

I’ll show you how one website used internal linking to increase search traffic by 40% and another website that went from position #33 to #5.

It’s also extremely easy to implement and carries (almost) zero risk of penalties.

Sound good?

I’ll be showing you everything you need to know about internal link building (and more).

What is Internal Linking?

There are two types of links:

Internal and external.

Internal links will take you to a web page or resource on the same domain.

Whereas external links will take you to a resource on a different domain.

Download our link building checklist here.

difference between internal and external links

Why Is Internal Link Building Important?

Internal links give you control over the flow of human traffic and search engine traffic which can be used in different ways.

Not only that but Google used to state

internal link advice

And more recently than that…

…Google’s John Mueller went on record to say-

“The context we pick up from internal linking is really important to us… with that kind of anchor text, that text around the links. That’s really important to us.”

So don’t sleep on internal link building because if it’s important for Google, it should be important for you as well.

Let me show you a quick example with my Google penalty checker page which has internal links from various pages-

internal link placement

These links are using the exact anchor text “Google penalty checker” which is helping the page to rank #1 in Google for the same term-

internal link building

This is just one of the ways we can take advantage of internal linking!

But we can use them for so much more than just SEO-

Internal Linking

#1 – Internal Links Help Google To Discover Your New Content

Google’s discovers new websites/pages in a number of ways, although most pages are almost certainly discovered via crawling.

Matt Cutts explains more about the crawling process in this video-

Here’s a practical demonstration of how Google uses crawling to discover new web pages:

Right now, Google has 414 pages from my blog in their index

(hint: you can check the indexation status of your website with a site: search in Google).

index results

I know my blog pretty well (obviously)…

So I know that 414 pages = pretty much all the pages on my blog.

Great, so that’s Google’s work done right!?

Not so fast.

Google knows websites change all the time.

For example, you may periodically change the content on your ‘about us’ page or write a brand new blog post every few days.

So they have to constantly re-crawl websites/web pages to look for new content.

 This is where internal links come in.
 
Google relies on internal links to discover new content.

This works because whenever you add a new page/post to your website it’ll almost always be linked-to from somewhere on your website.

For example, whenever I publish a new blog post it automatically apears on my homepage-

homepage internal links

Because Google has already indexed my main blog page (and category pages), their crawler will follow that internal link to discover my latest blog post.

Like I said, most content management systems (e.g. Wordpress) add internal links to new pages/posts automatically but these aren’t always in the best location for SEO purposes.

This is why you need a smart internal linking strategy (more on this later!)

#2 – Internal Links Help Google To Rank (And Better Understand) Your Web Pages

It’s rumoured that the number of internal links pointing to a web page…

Is one of Google’s 200+ ranking factors!

In fact: Google themselves have stated that…

“The number of internal links pointing to a page is a signal to search engines about the relative importance of that page.”

They have since deleted that rather unusual specific advice but here it is for your reference-

There have also been a number of case studies whereby a smart internal linking strategy has resulted in HUGE ranking boosts

I’m talking about a 40% increase in traffic. And position #33 to #5.

 All using nothing but smart internal linking.
 
But, why would this be a ranking factor?

Google uses the number of internal links to figure out how important that page may be.

For example, I link to my SEO portal from within my main navigation bar… (Which is present on every page of my website)

This tells Google that I deem this content to be of high importance.

link seo portal

And if I think this page is important, chances are that other people will too.

It passes more ‘link juice’ meaning that it’ll be more authoritative in Google’s eyes.

Here’s a good video showing how ‘link juice/flow’ works:


 
Another important aspect of internal links is the anchor text used within the link(s).

This helps Google to understand what that particular web page is about.

For example, in one of my income reports

I link to my SEMRush review with the anchor text ‘SEMRush review’.

popular content internal link

In Google’s eyes, this helps reinforce what that page is about (i.e. a review of SEMRush) and helps them feel more confident about ranking it for SEMRush-related terms.

semrush review example

In fact:

I dont like to leave any room for misinterpretation-

anchor profile

In simple terms:

 The anchor text you use for internal links is an important ranking factor.
 
And if you’re worried about being penalised by Google for manipulating anchor text like this, don’t worry;

Penguin is much more lenient when it comes to internal links.

#3 – Internal Links Help Make You More Money (Yes, Really!)

Internal links provide a navigational aid for real-life visitors to your website.

The links in your navigation menu provide perhaps the most obvious example of this…

They funnel visitors to the most important pages on your website.

internal links header

But this is also true for internal links within your content.

I funnel visitors to download my intelligent keyword & link building Google sheets using an internal link in my link building strategies roundup.

But why do I do this?

 Because it makes me more money.
 
Not only does it drive new email subscribers while providing a ton of value for my visitors…

(Or at least I hope it does!), the manual to use it contains affiliate links.

Strategically sending my traffic to this page results in more email signups, affiliate conversions and therefore, more money (ka-ching!)

internal linking example 2

Here are a few ways you can use internal links to make more money:

  • Funnel people towards high-converting pages
  • Funnel people towards pages with affiliate links
  • Funnel people towards relevant products/services

Note: The use of strategically placed internal links will help reduce bounce rate.

This can have some SEO benefit and indirectly increase revenue.

Why?

Because a type of bounce rate is likely used as a Google ranking factor if people click back to the SERPs after visiting your site.

So while bounce rate is not a direct ranking metric…

It indicates people are not engaging with your content.

A lower bounce rate may mean you rank higher and therefore lead to more organic traffic.

 More traffic usually = more money.

3 Internal Link Building Strategies You Can Implement Today

OK, enough talk…

It’s time to build some strategic, rank boosting, revenue-increasing internal links.

Here are the 3 processes I’m going to walk you through:

  • My quick ‘n’ dirty method.
  • The manual method (hint: this is better than the quick ‘n’ dirty method, but is more time-consuming).
  • BONUS: The power process (trying to rank a certain page? — you need this).

internal linking strategies

Let’s go through each one step-by-step.

#1- My Quick And Dirty Internal Linking Process

When it comes to SEO…

 Time = Money.
 
This is because the longer one task takes, the less time you have to spend on other important tasks (this is known as opportunity cost).

My 3-step quick ‘n’ dirty process can be implemented super-quickly…

Yet it still leads to incredible results!

Note: This method only works for Wordpress-based websites.

Here’s the basic process:

  • Create a list of URLs and primary target keywords
  • Find the LSI keywords for each of those primary keywords
  • Use the SEO Auto Linker plugin to add internal links in seconds.

Download My Internal Link Hacking Spreadsheet

Make sure you click on File > Make A Copy or File > Download As before continuing.

I recommend making a copy of the sheet above before you begin.

Let’s get started.

Step #1 – Gather A List Of URLs And Primary Keywords

Some of you will already have a list of URLs mapped to primary keywords.

If so, fantastic – paste them into the first tab of your Google Sheet (this is the one titled: ‘#1 – URLs / Keywords’) and jump straight to step #2.

1 quick n dirty Google Sheets

If not you can use either SEMRush (click here for a free 14-day trial).

But first, you need to gather a list of URLs from your website.

If you have a sitemap (which you should)…

You can simply copy/paste the list of URLs from the sitemap into the sheet.

XML Sitemap

But if not, here’s another super-quick way to do this:

Go to Google and search for the following:

site:yourdomain.com

This will return a list of all the pages on your website.

index results

I also recommend setting the number of results per page to 100 under ‘search settings’:

search settings

Search Settings

You can then use this free Chrome bookmarklet to scrape all 100 results from the SERPs.

SEO SERP Extraction Tool

Paste these into the URLs column in the Google Sheet.

1 quick n dirty Google Sheets 4

Next, use this SEMRush trial to extract the keywords.

Just go to the URL report (under Organic Research) in SEMRush.

Paste the first URL from your Google Sheet into the search bar.

Organic Research URL SEMrush English

Click Search.

Scroll down and you should see a list of organic search keywords for that page.

http www matthewwoodward co uk tutorials 6 figure product launch formula Organic Search Positions

Click Export.

Open the .csv in Excel, then copy/paste the list of keywords into this free tool.

This will convert the list of keywords into a comma-separated list.

Free Online Comma Separator Tool

Copy the comma-separated list into the ‘primary keywords’ column in your Google Sheet.

1 quick n dirty Google Sheets 3

Rinse and repeat for the rest of the URLs on your list.

Step #2 – Find The LSI Keywords For Your Primary Keywords

“LSI keywords” is really just a technical term form “related keywords” and while there is much debate about how useful they are for optimising content…

…they are a great source to find related keywords we can use to build internal links!

For example, if we take the keyword ‘product launch formula’…

An LSI keyword could be:

  • ‘product launches’
  • ‘launching a product’
  • ‘how to launch a product’

And because you’ve already got a list of keywords for each of your URLs…

Finding LSI keywords should be a breeze!

Start by brainstorming related keywords. Add them to your spreadsheet.

Still, brainstorming will only get you so far. So here are a couple of other methods:

How To Find LSI Keywords With Google

Copy one of the keywords from your Google Sheet and paste it into Google.

PLF example

Scroll to the bottom of the results page and you should see a list of related searches.

product launch formula Google Search

Copy relevant keywords into the LSI Keywords column in your Google Sheet

Note: not all keywords will be relevant, so be picky!

1 quick n dirty Google Sheets 5

Rinse and repeat for the rest of the keywords (and for all the URLs) on your list.

How To Find LSI Keywords With LSIGraph.com

To find LSI keywords easily you can use LSIGraph…

Go to LSIGraph.com and paste in a keyword from your spreadsheet.

lsi graph

Then click Generate.

It should then find and kick back a bunch of LSI keywords.

LSIGraph LSI Keyword Generator 1

Add any relevant ones to the LSI Keywords column in your spreadsheet.

Then repeat for each keyword on your list.

Step #3 – Add These Keywords To Your Website With SEO Auto Linker

Good news: most of the hard work is done. SEO Auto Linker will handle pretty much everything from here.

I know the plugin hasn’t been updated for a long time, but it’s what I use and I can only share what I do with you.

But first things first…

You need to install the plugin.

Once installed, go to the plugin page in your WP dashboard and click Add New Link.

Automatic Links The SEO Project WordPress

Next, go back to your Google Sheet and select the tab labeled ‘#2 – For WP’.

1 quick n dirty Google Sheets 1

This sheet pulls all of the keywords you entered into a neat list.

This can then paste into Wordpress.

All you have to do is select a URL from the dropdown.

select url

Copy/paste the URL keywords from the ‘COPY ME’ column into SEO Auto Linker.

Like this:

seo auto linker

Click Save.

SEO Auto Linker will comb through your website looking for occurrences of those keywords in other posts/pages.

If it finds any, it’ll automagically add an anchored link to your specific blog post.

Note: I usually set the Links per Page option to 1, as I don’t want a ton of links on every page – that just looks spammy.

#2 – The (Better) Manual Internal Linking Process

SEO Auto Linker works well – the only issue is that you don’t have full control over exactly where these links are placed, as the plugin decides this for you.

In my opinion, it’s much better to do this manually.

That way, you can control exactly where the internal links are placed and ensure they:

  • Make sense
  • Attract clicks

Here’s how to do it manually:

  • Create a list of URLs and target keywords.
  • Use Google to find relevant pages/posts on which to add internal links.
  • Rinse and repeat whenever you publish new content.

I’m not going to go over gathering URLs and primary keywords again.

Simply use the methods laid out earlier in the post to do this.

However, I have created an alternate Google Sheet for this process! So I recommend making a copy of this and using it-

Make sure you click on File > Make A Copy or File > Download As before continuing.

Here’s how it should look when you have your URLs + keywords entered:

Internal Linking My Better Manual Process Google Sheets 1

Next just click the buttons it generates or if you want to do it manually for any reason you can head to Google and search for-

site:matthewwoodward.co.uk product launch -https://www.searchlogistics.com/tutorials/6-figure-product-launch-formula/

To find all the pages from your site that Google thinks are relevant to a particular topic.

search example

I’m aware that performing this search correctly over and over can be a bit of a hassle.

Thats why I built the Google Sheet above to make things super straightforward.

Just go to the 2nd tab of the sheet named ‘#2 – For Google’. Select the URL you’re building internal links to from the dropdown list. Then hit the ‘Click here’ button.

Internal Linking My Better Manual Process Google Sheets

This will take you straight to the Google search – no hassle!

If I was looking to build some internal links to my product launch formula case study.

I would select that URL in the spreadsheet (see above), open the Google search results and then pluck out any pages that would make sense to add internal links from.

Here’s a page that fits the bill:

membership site example

So now, simply read through the post and look for appropriate places to internally link.

This looks like a good place:

How To Create A 6 Figure Membership Site Step By Step 2

Next, I simply login to my WP dashboard and add a link in that location.

Here’s the final result:

How To Create A 6 Figure Membership Site Step By Step

Note: I only recommend adding 1 link per page, so when you’re done, head back to the SERPs and look for more internal linking opportunities.

Rinse and repeat this process for each page on your website.

Important tip: Do this process every time you publish a new blog post or web page on your website. Not only will this lead to Google indexing the page much quicker, it’ll also give it a much needed ranking boost.

#3 – The Power Process

Is there a particular page you want to rank above all others…

Yet it’s nowhere to be seen in the SERPs?

If so…  you need my power process.

Here’s how it works:

  • Find the most powerful pages on your website using Ahrefs.
  • Add internal links from these pages to your target web page.

That’s it!

Here’s how to do it:

Let’s say I wanted to boost rankings for my SEO audit case study and tutorial. I would first need to find relevant, powerful pages on my website. Ahrefs can help with this.

Go to Ahrefs Site Explorer and enter your domain.

Site Explorer

Choose the ‘Best By Links’ report from the ‘Pages’ section on the left-hand menu.

Best by links matthewwoodward co uk on Ahrefs

This will show you a list of the most powerful pages on your website.

Ordered by # of referring domains (i.e. backlinks).

In general, more backlinks = more power.

Make a note of any pages that you could potentially add an internal link from.

Make sure they’re relevant!

internal link opportunity

Right away, my ecommerce SEO tutorial stands out.

With 177 referring domains, it’s certainly powerful. And because every ecommerce site needs a lot of on site work…

This is the perfect page from which to mention (and add a link to) my on page SEO audit tutorial.

potencial internal link placement

I mean – it doesn’t get much easier than this!

Here is how I placed the link-

manually added internal link example

Adding a relevant internal link like this gives the page a huge authority boost.

But there’s no need to stop there; keep working your way down the list of top pages on Ahrefs – there may be other pages you can add an internal links to.

This will give the page even more of a boost!

BONUS: A New Approach To Internal Linking

A week before I was about to publish this, I was pitched a new plugin called Link Whisper.

Now I get pitched things all the time, but this is made by the same guy that made LongTailPro (see my Long Tail Pro review) which was the king of keyword research tools for a long time.

And I have been so impressed with it I halted post and video production to talk about it because I will be using it on all of my sites going forward – I’m already using it on the blog.

Unlike dumb plugins that just replace keywords and phrases you specify with internal links, Link Whisper actually analsyes all of the text across your site to come up with it’s own intelligent suggestions.

The best way to show you how this works is with an example.

Let’s say I just published my keyword research template and now I want to build internal links to it. I can just open LinkWhisper-

Which tells me I have zero internal links pointing to it currently.

All you have to do is click Add and LinkWhisper will make intelligent suggestions automatically-

link whisper internal link suggestions

It’s making some pretty decent suggestions off the bat.

But what make’s it really cool is how you can customise those suggestions-

adding internal links with link whisper

That makes it really easy to build smart, manual internal links without any hard work at all.

Just review the suggestions, click to easily add/remove words from the anchor text and click “Add Links” – that’s it!

Not only that but it also includes some pretty awesome reporting features-

internal links report

At the moment I am using all of the methods I have listed above and it’s very likely that Link Whisper will replace the manual part of it.

I am already using it on this blog and have deployed it on a couple of niche sites to experiment more but it’s the best internal linking plugin I have ever used.

Internal linking is a great way to boost your website performance but it’s not the only way. Check out my SEO checklist and learn 45+ ways to optimize your site this year.

Wrapping It Up

Internal linking is crazily powerful – don’t neglect it!

Plus, unlike regular ol’ link building strategies (from external websites)…

 Internal links are under your full control.
 
You can decide:

  • Where they’re placed
  • What anchor text they use
  • Which pages they link to

Given the fact you can implement a smart internal linking strategy within a few hours…

I strongly recommend you give this a shot right now.

But remember: every time you add an internal link to one of your posts, submit your URL to Google.

If you don’t know how to do that, consult my search engine submission guide – NO SEO submission software required.

It is extremely important because it’s like telling Google that you’ve made some changes and that your URL needs to be indexed again.

And while you are reviewing your internal linking structure, you might want to pay attention to canonicalization as well!

What Are Your Thoughts?

182 Responses

  1. When it come to using plugin for building internal links…I recommend Link Whisper.Because Link Whisper gives you the opportunity to have control over how and where to place your links in your post.I have tried other plugy, but I do link Link Whisper.Thanks for sharing this post.

  2. É UM GRANDE PRAZER TER VOCÊ COMO UM GRANDE AMIGO E UM GRANDE MESTRE A MEU LADO. OBRIGADO MATTHEW…NAMASTÊ…

  3. Hi Matthew, thanks a lot for this article. I can’t download the “Manual Internal Link Strategy Sheet” by sharing it on Twitter (button not working) maybe this is just me. Is there any other way to download the resource?Thanks!

  4. I can not do the analysis. Every single link I want to use I have to pay! Semrush, Ahrefs all. Your article is good quality for those who use these programs, but who did not pay for Semrush its a waste of time to read!I thought I can do the link building today, waste of my time!

    1. Hey Mike! FYI SEMrush offers a 7 days FREE trial.Plus, if you want results, you’ll have to invest a little bit in SEO tools at some point.

    2. I don’t use these tools either but the part about building internal links manually was quite helpful.Currently my internal linking is just all over the place. But now I’m going to sort it out to drive the link juice to money making posts.Thanks

  5. Sorry I commented half way through your video :’) I don’t think the first outdated plugin is needed as Link Whispr allows site wide auto linking of certain keywords

  6. Link Whispr is a good internal linking plugin I would recommend – it has auto linking of keywords of your choice, will help to link orphaned content and more

  7. we are talking about limiting to 5 OUTBOUND INTERNAL LINKS per article while INBOUND could possibly more than 5 coming from other articles

  8. After reading a couple of articles about internal linking, I came to realized that prior to reading this article I might have wayyyyyyyyyy overdone the internal linking. You are talking about 5 internal linking and I did 10x more than that in an article.If I redo my internal linking from scratch on those articles and only do 5,Is it advisable? Will my ranking tank first then regain ranking later?Or I’m better off just keep it the way it is?

    1. I would suggest you test on one article first. Pick one of your articles, then redo your internal linking (just keep the 5 best & relevant internal links) and update/republish your article. Wait a few days and see if you got any results (bad or good). If you see that your traffic has increased or your ranking has improved, then do the same on the other articles.

    1. Hey Butch – You need to share the post to be able to download the ‘internal linking hacking spreadsheet.

  9. Hi, I wish for to subscribe for this blog to get most up-to-date updates, therefore where can i do it please help.

  10. In fact, this is really a mind blowing tip. I didn’t know internal link could be this important. Thanks

  11. Hey Matt,I think you might want to change info about Ahrefs 14-day trial as they dont have this option for 2 years.Great work, though =)

  12. I first heard you on the Niche Pursuits podcast, so I had heard of Link Whisper before. Internal linking is such a pain in the butt. However, I love your methods shown here. I’ll definitely be giving them a go.

  13. Hi Matthew, Indeed a great post as always. Many seo experts have the same opinion that internal linking improves the search rank. but i think story can be different sometimes. for example. a URL on my website which I am trying to rank for a long time is nowhere on first 7-8 pages on google. however i have linked it to the top pages of my sites, also it has many backlinks, Post is long more than 5000 words and properly optimized. But all my efforts to rank it higher remained unsuccessful. What is worse than many websites which have written the post 2-3 years later are ranking on 2nd-3rd page with less words, low quality and no backlinks. I think you can’t always anticipate the google algorithm. Can you please explain what could be the possible reason.

    1. Well it could be a number of things. With content it always needs to be quality over quantity, your keywords that you are attempting to rank for may have too much competition and not enough search volume or possibly the quality of the backlinks (not all backlinks are created equally) or a mixture of all these. You need to make sure you have a strong foundation so maybe you need to conduct a site audit as there may be something holding it back that isn’t obvious.

  14. Great article on internal linking. Will certainly be taking internal linking up a notch with your detailed strategies. Thanks!

  15. Hey Matthew,Your posts are always amazing. Thanks for sharing such a useful info. I have a query regarding internal linking.Will it benefit us if we do internal linking after website is created, like after 2 – 3 months of website creation.Will it effect ranking in seo?Thanks in advance.

  16. Unfortunately I can not download the spreadsheets, I have already shared and deleted more than 100x in my social networks, but there is never a link to download the spreadsheets. Great material, but unfortunately, impossible to use.

  17. What an eye opener! I’ve been just throwing posts up and have never really interlinked any of them. This may explain at least one reason my traffic hasn’t been all that good. I will now take this very serious. Maybe in 30-60 days my site traffic will increase. Thanks!

  18. Internal Linking really matters, I read this Post 2 months ago and Implemented tactics of internal links By Matt. I have seen results in one or two days. Meanwhile, my bounce rate decreases. My page views on my website increased. After a few weeks, Organic ranking got started. So, I can say that this is the number one SEO hack i ever seen. Thanks Matt for sharing

  19. You explained very well about internal link building. This is really a good content to learn.Thank you very much for sharing this post. Please keep continue to write this kind of post.

  20. Gees buddy, I have to be honest with you. I took up your course going back a while ago and after I implemented those directions for my own site and noticed the increase in rankings, I put it straight to my client sites and they all went up. I even implemented the internal linking that you suggested in your training and improved rankings within days. This is just even more positive content that I’m going to apply because there are a couple things that were missing from my original adjustments that I picked up here. I do use Auto linker on my own site and client sites but after having picked up more info here again, I’m going to do even more again to boost rankings. Matt, thank you so much for your invaluable input. You are by far a HUUUUGE Asset to the SEO industry and I read every newsletter you send outKeep up the good work.Pete

    1. Hey Pete! Sounds like you have your SEO on the right path! Glad to hear you were able to increase rankings. Thanks 🙂

  21. Wow, i learnt something new and exciting through your article on Link Building Process, Matthew! Internal links are hidden treasures.I can’t wait to implement these strategies.Looking forward to more tactics, keep up the good work.

  22. Link building is one major aspect of search engine optimization that you should know about and is extremely beneficial for your website.In the world of search engine optimisation backlinking is one of the most used words. The basic premise of a backlink is when one page links to another page it’s as simple as that!Since Google introduced the Penguin algorithm, much has changed concerning backlinks. Before the Penguin roll out even low-quality links helped in ranking a site.The quality of your backlinks is very important and the links should be contextual. Your goal should be getting links from authoritative and relevant sites.It’s also important for you to create backlinks to your site as it improves organic ranking, allows faster indexing of your site, and referral traffic.Quality not quantity is the name of the game. One important fact that you need to keep in mind about backlinks for search engine optimisation is that it is not the number of backlinks, which matters, but rather the quality of backlinks.

  23. Awesome list of tips, If we will focus on the users it willbe most valuable work and link will be save .

  24. This post is Superb! You certainly know your stuff when it comes to internal linking, Matthew. I was not expecting this well in-depth read as this is my first time visiting your site. If one took advantage of internal linking as well as external links, a site could become a powerhouse if all is implemented correctly. Thank you so much for sharing such a valuable post. 🙂

    1. No problem, very good point. If you implement the right strategies your site will be unstoppable!

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