Internal Linking Uncovered: The Building Blocks to Improve Your SEO Strategy

Ruthie Careyby Ruthie Carey

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In order for content to gain the visibility necessary to benefit a brand’s website, retailers must optimize content for SEO performance. In part, this means that internal linking strategies are a must.

When it comes to links, most retailers are focused on generating better backlinks for their pieces, and for good reasons. Backlinks are one of the single most important of Google’s ranking factors.

However, internal links are also critical, as these help to connect pieces of content, elevate page visits and time on site, pass along authority to other pages, provide Google with insights into a site’s page hierarchy and so much more.

All of this serves to improve a website’s rankings and visibility, thus increasing organic traffic.

To help retailers improve their SEO performance, today, we will explore some of the most important internal linking strategies for merchants to implement.

Before diving into those tactics, let’s take a quick look at how internal links impact SEO.

How Internal Linking Strategies Affect SEO

On the internet, authority flows through links.

Links serve to pass ranking potential from website to website and from page to page. When a page links to another, it gives some of its authority (assuming it possesses any to begin with) to that page, thereby increasing the linked-to page’s ranking potential.

This is what is sometimes colloquially referred to as “link juice.” Others call this what it actually is, which is simply authority.

Nonetheless, incoming links from other websites pass along Domain Authority, thereby increasing the authority of the pages on a retailer’s site.

On the other hand, internal links merely serve to pass authority between a site’s existing pages. While this does not increase Domain Authority, it does help to spread page authority.

In a nutshell, this means that internal linking strategies can allow various pages within a website to help each other rank higher in the SERPs.

However, there are various benefits to internal linking, including:

  • Aids Google in indexing pages
  • Increases the potential for deep content to receive backlinks
  • Provides additional context and value to users
  • Assists in enhancing overall SEO performance

With that quick explanation out of the way, let’s go ahead and take a look at some internal linking best practices for accelerating SEO rankings.

Internal Linking Strategies: 10 Tactics for Better SEO Performance

Given how vital internal linking is to SEO outcomes, it is critical for retailers to approach the practice from a variety of angles.

That said, some of the ways in which sellers can optimize their internal linking strategies include:

1. Write Relevant Anchor Text

Admittedly, this is more guidance than a strategy.

That said, when linking to internal pages, it is vital that retailers utilize clear and appropriate anchor texts for the link.

There are various types of anchor texts that sellers can use, including:

  • Exact match
  • Partial match
  • Branded
  • Generic

However, the key here is to utilize the text to inform readers as to what information or additional context they will find on the linked-to page.

Of course, it is also important for the linked-to page to be relevant to the page from which it is being linked.

2. Create a Considerable Amount of Content

The best way to have a healthy internal linking strategy is to possess a considerable number of internal pages to which sellers can link.

When retailers create a panoply of content, it is possible to tie together many different pieces. Moreover, given the importance of blogging for boosting rankings, this works on multiple levels for enhancing SEO performance.

However, simply possessing lots of web pages won’t move the needle on SEO outcomes. Instead, it is essential to have a strategy for leveraging content to aid in the site’s overall visibility.

This is where content clusters come into play.

3. Create Content Clusters

One of the most successful internal linking strategies for online retailers is creating content or topic clusters.

While most content SEO strategies are focused on keywords, content clusters are instead pointed toward topics.

Also called the pillar-and-cluster method, content clusters serve to show Google (and readers) a relationship between various pages.

The way that this internal linking strategy works is that retailers produce a multitude of topically relevant content that explores different aspects to an overarching topic.

From there, retailers link the pieces together using internal linking strategies and relevant anchor text.

To create a content cluster, retailers will want to:

  • Determine a core topic
  • Conduct keyword research to establish cluster content ideas stemming from the core topic
  • Produce cluster content
  • Write the pillar page using the skyscraper technique
  • Add internal links

Utilizing this strategy will not only help to increase Domain Authority, but it will also help to pass around link juice to various internal pages, thereby elevating the site’s overall SEO performance.

4. Only Use Dofollow Links

While there is undoubtedly a time and place for nofollow links, when devising and implementing internal linking strategies, retailers will want to stay away from them.

Nofollow links do not have any impact on a retailer’s search engine performance. Moreover, Google doesn’t transfer PageRank or anchor text across nofollow links.

While there is some data to suggest that nofollow links can be useful when used externally, there is no reason to include them in internal linking strategies.

5. Ensure Links Add Value

When links are relevant to their piece that a reader is busy consuming, they are more likely to click-through to get more information.

Therefore, in order to ensure the highest time-on-site and best user experience possible, it is critical for retailers to ensure that the pages to which they link benefit the reader in some way.

Given that Google algorithm changes like the Core Web Vitals update have placed exponentially greater emphasis on the user experience, unnecessary or irrelevant links could potentially harm a seller’s SEO performance.

This means that if a link delivers little to no value to the reader, it is best left out of the content.

6. Link to High Converting Pages

Online retailers likely have a handful of pages on their websites that convert more consumers than others.

These pages should be linked to, when appropriate.

If these pages are pieces of content that employ effective CTAs, be sure to utilize these within the appropriate content clusters.

However, given that the nature of eCommerce is to sell products, merchants can also link to product pages when discussing solutions to potential problems.

This leads us to our next internal linking strategy.

7. Link to Product Pages

As mentioned a moment ago, an effective way for sellers to employ internal linking is by linking to popular product pages.

There are a couple of different ways that merchants can utilize this tactic.

Firstly, merchants can integrate links to product pages within relevant pieces of content. For instance, when Visiture and Tiege Hanley partnered to optimize the company’s search engine performance, one of the primary focuses was on the brand’s content.

As a result, Visiture started producing a considerable amount of content for the company (a strategy mentioned above), many of which linked to the brand’s line of skincare products.

Between implementing technical SEO improvements and robust content marketing efforts, Tiege Hanley was able to achieve:

  • 808 percent increase in ranked keywords
  • 404 percent boost in organic traffic
  • 225 percent lift in organic transactions
  • 264 percent hike in organic revenue

However, linking to products from educational content pages isn’t the only way to integrate product pages into internal linking strategies.

A critical means of internally linking products is by connecting them to other product pages. By showcasing similar and related products on various item pages, merchants can not only elevate their SEO performance via internal linking, but they can also build better product pages and increase sales.

8. Be Reasonable with Internal Linking Strategies

When it comes to internal linking strategies, sellers shouldn’t overdo it by cramming their pages full of links.

As the adage goes, quality over quantity.

Google’s webmaster guidelines advise site owners to “limit the number of links on a page to a reasonable number (a few thousand at most).”

This begs the question: What is a reasonable number of links?

Ultimately, this will depend on a variety of factors such as the topic of the content, its length, the target audience and the like. Therefore, it is up to merchants to determine this number.

However, a good rule of thumb is to include as many links as sellers think would be helpful to the reader and enhance the user experience.

9. Audit Existing Content

Implementing internal linking strategies on new pieces of content is a great start.

However, retailers should also review their older pieces of content for opportunities to include or update internal links. As should be standard practice for maintaining evergreen content for SEO, retailers should regularly revisit older pieces of content to update information, fix broken links and the like.

During this process, sellers should use the opportunity to integrate internal links to relevant pieces where they make sense and can add value to the work.

10. Pay Attention to Navigation and Architecture

Part of the reason as to why internal linking strategies are so crucial to performance is that they help to define site architecture and hierarchy by establishing funnels that direct visitors through the site.

The way in which consumers can move through a merchant’s site is a core component of the site’s user experience and will be a determining factor in how long people stay on the site and how frequently they come back for more.

Therefore, when building internal linking strategies, it is essential to consider how the links enable visitors to move through the site, which pages and pieces of content are most important and how those are being promoted.

Bonus: Link Lower Traffic Pages in High-Traffic Destinations

When retailers write a new post, prior to it going live, they should look for older, higher traffic blogs about similar topics to link to in the new piece.

The benefit of this practice is twofold.

Firstly, including links to older pieces helps the newer pieces to achieve visibility on search engines faster than if they did not include such links.

Secondly, when people read the new posts, there is a good chance that they will click through to some of the older articles, thereby helping to maintain traffic to pieces that are deeper in the site and less accessible.

At the same time, sellers should also be looking at higher traffic pages as a means to increase authority for lower traffic pages via internal linking. By making this a regular practice, retailers can help to elevate the visibility of lower traffic pages, thereby aiding the site’s overall performance in the SERPs.

Final Thoughts

Internal linking strategies don’t need to be massively complicated. All retailers really need is a logical, hierarchical site structure and for internal links to abide by that structure.

This is the basic premise on which all effective internal linking strategies are built.

That said, building out and implementing internal linking strategies can be a time-consuming endeavor as retailers will need to spend the time auditing their existing content offerings, finding relevant pages to link together, creating content clusters and all that goes into them and the like.

While this is undoubtedly an important process of improving SEO performance, it can take away from some of a retailer’s other sales and marketing priorities.

Therefore, if your brand wants to stay focused on its primary goals and hand off its internal linking and general search engine optimization efforts to professionals who can optimize their site for maximum performance, reach out to Visiture’s eCommerce SEO experts.

Our dedicated team of SEO specialists can audit your site’s content, architecture and hierarchy to establish an internal linking strategy that gives your brand an edge in the SERPs.

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