How to Conduct a Successful Internal Linking Project

Table of Contents

Are you looking to enhance your website's visibility and improve its search engine ranking? One highly effective strategy to achieve these goals is through internal linking. Internal linking plays a crucial role in search engine optimization (SEO) by connecting pages within your website and distributing link equity. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the importance of internal linking, the concept of cornerstone content, and provide you with a step-by-step plan to conduct a successful internal linking project.

The importance of internal linking

Internal linking refers to the practice of linking one page of a website to another page within the same domain. These links are valuable because they help search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your website, making it easier for them to crawl and index your content.

Additionally, internal links distribute authority and relevance throughout your site, which can positively impact your rankings. At a fundamental level, Google started as a company that crawled links and create a searchable index by understanding how pages were related to each other.

Therefore, making your site linking structure as intuitive as possible only simplifies Google’s core functionality and sets up your site to be rewarded in organic results. 

What is cornerstone content?

Cornerstone content refers to the main articles or pages on your website that are highly informative, and comprehensive, and serve as the foundation for a specific topic.

These pieces of content typically cover broad subjects and provide valuable insights or solutions to your target audience. Cornerstone content acts as a reference point for both users and search engines, establishing your website as an authority in your industry.

Why are cornerstone articles critical for SEO?

Cornerstone articles are crucial for SEO because they attract high volumes of organic traffic, generate backlinks from other websites, and have the potential to rank for competitive keywords.

By interlinking other related articles or pages to your cornerstone content, you create a network of relevant and valuable information, strengthening the topical clustering and increasing the visibility of your entire website.

How to conduct an internal linking project

Now that we understand the significance of internal linking, let's delve into a step-by-step plan to conduct a successful internal linking project. This process will help you optimize your website's internal structure and maximize the SEO benefits.

Step 1: Think about your keywords

Begin by identifying the keywords you want to target. Conduct keyword research to understand the search terms your target audience uses to find information related to your industry. Choose primary and secondary keywords that align with your content strategy.

Step 2: Choose the best post

Select the most comprehensive and informative article on your website that aligns with your primary keyword. This will serve as your cornerstone content.

Step 3: Rewrite It

Review and update your chosen article to ensure it is up-to-date, relevant, and offers valuable insights. Enhance the structure, readability, and overall quality of the content. Optimize it for your primary keyword without compromising the user experience.

Step 4: Optimize your other posts on long-tail variants

Identify other articles or blog posts on your website that cover topics related to your cornerstone content. Optimize these posts for long-tail variants of your primary keyword, ensuring they complement and link back to your cornerstone content.

Now that we've covered the high-level steps, let's dive into a more detailed, step-by-step plan for conducting a successful internal linking project.

Step by step: Internal linking project

1. Crawl the site with ScreamingFrog

To begin, crawl your website using a tool like ScreamingFrog. This will provide you with a comprehensive overview of your site's structure and internal linking.

Hook up Google Analytics to assess high-performing article assets and examine the inlinks and outlinks columns of the internal crawl data report.

2. Identify top-performing organic webpages

Analyze your internal crawl data and identify the web pages that attract the most organic traffic and have a strong backlink profile. Review the internal linking coverage of these pages to ensure they are well-connected to other relevant pages on your website. 

3. Organize your list of conversion-focused webpages

Compile a list of your conversion-focused webpages, such as business landing pages and low-funnel blog articles targeting high purchase intent keywords. These pages are critical for driving conversions and should be strategically linked to other relevant pages to maximize their impact.

4. Identify and organize target keywords

For each page identified in the previous step, identify the target keywords associated with that page. These keywords should align with the intent of the page and reflect the search terms your target audience is likely to use. Organize these keywords to guide your internal linking strategy.

5. Utilize the Custom Search feature in ScreamingFrog

Utilize the Custom Search feature in ScreamingFrog to scan for instances of the target keywords across every page of your website. If the keywords are too long-tail or specific to yield any results, consider targeting topically related short-tail keywords instead, just to point us in the right direction. ScreamingFrom has many useful custom extraction use cases.

6. Export the crawl data and identify linking opportunities

Export the crawl data with the results of your Custom Search configuration. Use this data to identify relevant internal linking opportunities that strengthen the topical clustering on your website.

By plugging in those target keywords, we can filter our data for instances per page of the target keywords in the crawl data and review those pages for additional internal linking possibilities.

You can see in the image below that I have filtered by pages with the most instances of “SEO agency” across our blog. 

7. Avoid exact match anchor text

When incorporating internal links, avoid using exact match anchor text, which means using the exact same anchor text repeatedly when linking to a page. Instead, aim for anchor text that is 3-6 words long, includes the target keyword at the beginning, and varies from page to page. This approach provides additional context to search engines and helps avoid appearing spammy.

Exact match anchor text examples

  • Uproer’s complete guide to keyword research
  • Check out the best SaaS SEO tools of 2023
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Optimized anchor text examples

  • Uproer’s comprehensive and in-depth guide to effective keyword research for ecommerce SEO
  • Check out our meticulously curated list of the best SaaS SEO tools of 2023…
  • Creating a highly effective and impactful content strategy for start-ups beings with a…

8. Aim for 10 unique outlinks and inlinks per page

Aim to include 10 unique outlinks and inlinks per page, although this can be a challenging goal to achieve. If you don't have 10 relevant links to provide on a given page, ensure you include at least two of each. The goal is to provide your users and search engines with valuable resources and relevant information.

9. Pay close attention to the first internal link in the body copy

It is rumored that the first internal link in the body copy of a webpage carries more weight than subsequent links. Consider this when placing internal links within your content. The first link often indicates the importance of a specific page or resource and can influence how search engines perceive its relevance.

Ready to get started? 

Internal linking can be a time-intensive and challenging endeavor, but it is a crucial aspect of SEO. If you need help from a team that has successfully executed numerous internal linking projects before, let's get in touch. Don't let the complexities of internal linking hold you back from growing your brand online.

Ben Bjerken

Ben Bjerken

Ben has been drawn to all facets of marketing since he was a teenager in high school. After graduating from the University of North Dakota, Ben cut his teeth at a large digital Marketing agency in Minneapolis before pivoting to Uproer. He now works with the Uproer team to help clients bolster their search marketing presence in our increasingly digital business landscape.

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