We sat down with Kevin Indig, VP of content and SEO at G2 to discuss how internal links impact organic search performance.
We’re always striving to build a strong backlink profile for your website but are you getting the maximum leverage out of the backlinks you already got by optimizing your internal linking?
If you are anything like most people running after high PA/DA backlinks, the chances are that you are not.
So how do you get the most out of those hard-earned backlinks?
How do you link your webpages internally to give each page a fighting chance to stand out in the SERPs?
The answer lies in the Robin Hood Principle of Internal Linking by Kevin Indig of G2.
Take PageRank from rich pages and give it to poor ones
Yes, that’s what he recommended when we picked his brain about advanced internal linking strategies in a conference call for The Blueprint Training last Friday.
Internal links are important. They pass equity —the link juice— to pages on your site that do not get enough external link-love.
“So how do you actually inter link pages sitewide?”
“Well it depends,” says Kevin. It depends on the type of website you got.
- Is your website an editorial website with no specific modular content template where any page can be a conversion page like G2 Learning Hub or Pinterest or Trello etc.?
- Or your site has a handful of conversion pages and a clear templatized content model?
If you have an editorial website, you would prefer to manually link the pages that belong to the same topical structure.
For modular sites though, experiment with link modules. A classic is the Related Products linking module. It’s easier to scale internal linking on centralized, modular sites.
“Can you explain THAT a little more…?”
Well, here is what you do STEP BY STEP.
STEP 1: Look at the Crawl depth of your pages. How many clicks away they are from the homepage.
STEP 2: Differentiate pages with high crawl depth vs. low ones
STEP 3: Map your crawl depth to a certain page template, IF such a pattern exists (it usually does). Templates like vendor pages, compare pages, review pages, product pages and so on.
STEP 4: Once you have marked out the underdogs send some link-love their way and balance out the internal linking landscape on your website.
You have to do a lot of segmentation to reach a conclusion that helps you improve your internal linking.
“What if my website has just one conversion page and only a couple of blog posts, how do I link them?”
For websites that have only a few points of conversion make sure that your internal linking aligns with that.
Identify pages with the strongest PageRank profile and from those pages send links to your product page or conversion page
Keep your conversion pages as close to the homepage as possible ideally just 1 click away.
And here is the most important tip for you:
And do not worry about the Big G coming after you for abusing the anchor text when linking internally.
Just remember this formula when choosing your anchor texts for Interlinking.
- 50% of times use your main keyword in the anchor text
- 50% of times diversify the anchor texts using synonyms and related keywords
“BUT how do I tell that which pages have the best PageRank profile?”
Worry not, Kevin has got you covered with a model he calls the “True Internal PageRank Model” (TIPR).
TIPR model asks you to not only look at the internal links pointing to a page but you must also factor in the external links it has got.
Just 1 strong external link can skew the whole internal link graph for a URL
So only after factoring in external links to a URL, you will arrive at the TIRP of that page.
Here is Kevin’s 5 step TIPR model process
- Crawl your site (DeepCrawl, Screaming Frog, Searchmetrics, etc.)
- Calculate internal PageRank and CheiRank
- Pull backlinks per URL
- Use the crawl rate per URL to monitor the impact over time
- Sort and rank metrics
“How should the big editorial sites streamline the process of internal linking?”
That’s where the trusted old spreadsheets come in, since to date we don’t have any sophisticated technology that can automate this process. (Hey Devs, are you listening?)
After a deep crawl and data extraction, your spreadsheet should have columns like:
- Click depth
- Internal PageRank
- CheiRank (Inverse PageRank to know how much a page links out in relation to the whole link graph of a site)
- External backlinks
- Domain Authority
- Organic traffic
- Any other proprietory metric you might want to use depending on your business model
From the spreadsheet above you’ll be able to determine that where are you underperforming to get traffic and where are you over-performing in terms of internal linking.
What you will often find is that some pages are heavily internally linked and performing well traffic-wise while other pages are underperforming orphans. Your job is to balance that out.
“Okay so finally I have the dataset, how so I assign internal links?”
I knew it’s coming, so here you go.
IT COMES DOWN TO PATTERN RECOGNITION
Analyze that what do the most internally linked pages have in common in contrast to the least internally linked pages
Look at the Click Depth and PageRank of ur each of your pages and then:
- Extract the main keyword from those pages
- Identify which topics are well linked on your site and which are not
If u can extract the topic from your URL structure then use that information to interlink your pages from a topical perspective.
At the manual level tagging and categories can help you if you are using some CMS like WordPress etc.
Although big enterprise-level websites get the maximum benefit out of optimal internal linking yet smaller websites can leverage these strategies to strengthen their conversion pages in SERPs.
So don’t just keep going after strong external backlinks, use what you already got and see your business grow.
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