In the last 10 years, I’ve had the pleasure of focusing on on-page SEO including internal linking and directly seeing how MUCH of an effect they can have on your blog when it comes to improving rankings but like anything in SEO, you have to know how to do it well and with a strategy in mind.
I’ve ranked hundreds of competitive and non-competitive keywords in the top spots after implementing a good internal linking structure known as an internal linking silo.
In this in-depth internal linking guide, I will share with you what internal linking is, how powerful it is, and how to do it properly. *Nods at the Phoenix* Off we go…
What is Internal Linking?
An internal link is a link anywhere on your blog or site that links to another one of the pages or posts within your site. These can include the navigational links in the header, footer, and sidebar, as well as in-content contextual links from within a blog post.
What is a Contextual Link?
For clarification, a contextual link is a link in a paragraph from within a post or page on your site in which context or ideas are similar to the page you are linking out to. An example would be me linking this page out to another page within this site where it’s “relevant” and makes sense to, like another powerful SEO factor that helps rankings greatly.
Why Is Internal Linking Important?
Internal linking is important because it helps Google discover other content on your site, crawl it, index it, and finally, rank it for relevant keyphrases. It also points out the most important pages to Google.
These internal links also help readers stay longer on your niche site if they are interested in learning more about the subject/page you’ve linked out to.
In a lot of cases, when done with a strategy, internal linking has helped with rankings as well.
Types of Internal Links
As mentioned earlier, there are several types of links: header, footer, sidebar, and contextual links.
Header, footer, and sidebar links do not carry as much weight for SEO purposes as contextual links do. They are for the benefit of the visitors on your site so that they can navigate your blog easily based on their interests. Design these with the users’ interests in mind.
For instance, for Affiliate Phoenix, I want to highlight the blog, the AP Academy Course, what AP is about, and more. I would not link to this post directly from the menu.
Adding it to the menu will hammer away at the keyword that I want to rank for when I could just link to it in a better way (in-content contextual link with a lot more juice!) If AP is a 5,000 page site, now there are 5,000 pages with the keyword in the menu. I advise against it.
You want to save an exact match keyphrase like that for a contextual link as it carries a lot more weight or “reward” for it.
Are Navigational Links as Powerful as In-Content Contextual Links?
Navigational links in the header, footer, and sidebar are not “powerful” for SEO purposes. However, they are super powerful for user experience!
Hands down, in-content contextual internal links are way more powerful. In fact, in my personal opinion, in certain cases, they can be as powerful as backlinks, so they need to be used with strategy in mind.
What are Internal Linking Silo Structures?
A link silo structure is doing internal linking in a strategic way that may result in a boost in rankings and traffic. Sounds heavenly, right?
One thing we want to keep in mind is: why are we internal linking?
The purpose of us building in-content contextual internal links is to “give power to the pages we want Google to notice and do well in its search engine.” In other words, we are “voting” which one of our pages are the most important and we want Google to notice it too (and crawl and index it AND understand it AND RANK IT!) 😉
The structure that I am going to share with you is basic but don’t let that fool you: it is one of the most powerful structures that bloggers overlook.
Most bloggers do internal linking without a structure in mind: they do it randomly without strategy.
Whichever page you want to rank, you need to create internal links to from the 5 most powerful pages on your blog. (Sidenote: it doesn’t matter if these are posts or pages).
What you do want to be careful about is what anchor text you use when you link to the page you want to rank: I advise to use the exact match anchor text only once as the Google algorithm now understands when you are trying to game it (spammers would overuse the anchor text to do well in the search engines). Pushing aggressive anchor texts in this manner used to work years ago, but now your blog ends up getting punished in a harsh way and may be “unofficially penalized” and drop in rankings drastically.
What is Safe Anchor Text?
You should be linking to your main page with relevant anchors, just not the exact match anchor text repeatedly. This can result in dire consequences for your blog and hurt your rankings greatly.
For instance, here are possible anchor texts I may use to rank for this internal linking guide: internal linking guide, link silos for SEO, click here, read more, safe anchor text.
If you were to create more than five internal links, pay attention to your anchor text ratio as Google will (unofficially) penalize you for being too aggressive with this strategy. The bigger and more competitive the niche, you will probably create more internal links over time, but it’s good to keep an eye on how aggressive your anchors are.
You can include exact match anchors (the exact keyword), partial anchors, unoptimized anchor text such as “click here” or “Read more”, as well as branded anchor text.
Tiered Internal Linking Is Everything Your Mama Didn’t Want You To Know About…
Downright scandalous… just kidding! Remember the pages that are pointing to the page you want to rank? Well, find a few of them that contain partial and exact match anchors and build two or three internal links to them.
How does this make the link silo more powerful? Just like backlinks, the more powerful the internal page that’s pointing to it, the better. And how do you know an internal page is powerful? When other pages are pointing to it.
Also, if any of the pages are “orphaned”, you can internally link them to each other as well.
In the above image, you see a page directly under homepage. Let’s assume that’s one of the pages you want to do create a link silo structure for.
The first tier of pages should be topically relevant to the page you want to link to. Create internal links from those pages to the page you want to rank with a safe anchor text ration. You should also link those pages to each other so you don’t leave any pages that don’t have any internal links (orphaned pages) within this little structure.
Now, you can add the second tier (in blue) that I discussed above. You can choose which pages to do it for and create a couple of links to them as well as linking them to each other.
Guidelines I Follow for Link Silo Structure
There are a few “loose” link silo guidelines that I follow that have worked amazingly well for years. Keep in mind that if you have an existing blog that has its own internal linking structure, don’t go in and make any big changes unless you think your existing structure will harm your site in any way.
1. Create 1-3 total links to other blog posts.
For a 1000 word article, it’s okay to create 1-3 internal links to other pages or posts. The more links you create, the more you dilute the strength of your internal links. There isn’t a “magic number” but creating excessive internal linking can theoretically hurt your rankings. There’s always a balance to be had.
2. Link from relevant pages or posts.
The more relevant a page is in topic or subject matter to the page you are about to create an internal link to, the better. For instance, it makes sense for me to link out to pages regarding other SEO posts I have done on Affiliate Phoenix from this very page.
3. The higher you place the internal link, the better
When it makes sense, place your internal link in the first few paragraphs when possible. I have personally tested internal link placements and find them to work well in the top for a couple reasons: to help with rankings, but also, keep visitors on your site longer! You don’t know how much of the current article visitors will read so catch them early on.
4. Link to your most important pages
If you start creating internal links to every single page or post on your blog, it doesn’t quite give Google a “picture” of what your most important pages are. That’s a problem. It can’t see a structure and that’s important to have.
Keeping Crawl Depth in Mind
Crawl depth is how many levels deep a bot has to crawl and find a particular page or post. As a rule of thumb, you don’t want your important pages to be buried deep. You want bots to find them rather easily.
This can be by internally linking from other pages or making sure that your navigation menu (header, footer, sidebar) lead to your important pages.
All road need to get the bots to your content!
FAQ for Link Silo Structure
1. How many internal links per blog post or page should I create?
There is no hard and fast rule. I like to create upto 3 relevant keyphrases in a 1000 word article. The more internal links you create, the more you are diluting the power/juice between them.
2. Are internal links the same as backlinks?
No. Internal links are links you control on your blog; they are links you create from one page or post of your site to another page or post within your site. Backlinks are links from other sites that are pointing to your site.
3. Is there such a thing as too many internal links?
Yes. Creating excessive in-content contextual links isn’t advised and defeats the purpose of creating them in the first place. You will dilute the power of them by dividing it into however many you are creating. Also, there is no guarantee that Google or other search engines will crawl all of your links.
4. Can Creating internal links with dominantly exact match anchor text harm my site?
I have definitely seen cases where this rang true. This may have worked 5-10 years ago, but will get your niche site or blog in deep trouble once noticed by the Google algorithm. It’s better to practice a healthy mix exact match, partial match, unoptimized, as well as branded anchor text. Exact match anchors should be kept extremely low.
Internal linking and link silo structures are super important for your blog – you want to use them in conjunction with the rest of on-page SEO factors for a solid all around strategy. Keep a simple but effective link silo in strategy and execute and you’ll see your blog succeeding in the search engines.