- Don’t seriously forget about breadcrumbs
- First correct your (broken) internal links
- Identify your chains and redirect them
- Put your links in an organized card
- Correct your click depth
- Play navigation defense
- Half your links, double the authority
- Push Content Live with a quick checklist
- Automate internal link building where you can
- Setting links when posting content
- Bonus: Receive cross-departmental buy-in
Company-level internal links rarely get the love, attention, or optimization they deserve.
While inbound links have a reputation for being a quick help in building a website’s authority and ranking ability, it is also one of the few link-based resources corporate SEOs have to help guide users, crawlers, and linkers. Equity move your own website efficiently and to scale.
(This is a great primer for the “why” of the internal link.)
Extraordinary company pages? You have mastered the optimization of internal links, with the help of which Google can recognize new content and quickly index it.
This guide provides tips on how to get started building and optimizing internal company links, what to ignore, and how to publish content with a short checklist.
Don’t seriously forget about breadcrumbs
These are some of the simplest, but least implemented and most overlooked, natural places to add links that connect content between categories and different sections of the site.
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Also, it can be automated and helps users easily navigate content without the back button.
Ideally, your medium “crumb” should be a medium value side. Something like:
Home> Sub Category> Product
Primary category and core product pages naturally combine a lot of links and attention. Use this as an opportunity to spread it across your middleweight pages while keeping it functional.
First correct your (broken) internal links
A small cleanup can go a long way toward optimizing. So many websites worry about creating new links before fixing their broken ones.
Broken links are not doing their intended job, and it’s worth reviewing existing audits to find and fix them first before creating more links that ultimately need to be managed.
For sites that generate a lot of content or have seasonal products, it can be helpful to manage them as part of a quarterly checklist before it gets out of hand.
Identify your chains and redirect them
This happens to the websites with the best of intentions, and this is especially true for websites with a wide range of products.
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A product is no longer in inventory, you forward it to its replacement and the cycle continues ad nauseum until you have a 10 product redirect chain 10 products deep.
A quick, but occasionally cumbersome, solution is to return to the main category page.
A cleaner solution, but one that requires maintenance, is to redirect to the closest related product that has inventory.
Put your links in an organized card
One of the best ways to improve the visibility of the various link families is to organize them in pen-on-paper style (or, as you know, text in Google Sheet).
Each page in your map can also have a column on its primary internal link family, so you have a single organized point of reference about what your link trees actually look like.
This also makes it easy to identify orphaned and over / under linked pages (Search Console has a simple report on internally linked page identification).
Correct your click depth
This is pretty self-explanatory, but is overlooked. This is also a particular problem for large niche product retailers.
If it takes a few clicks to get to a specific product page, then you should know how to shorten the path to encounter.
The general guide is under three clicks, but this can obscure the relevance of the content to the extent that it is not every side on the website is equally relevant.
Three clicks from home is a good guide, but a page is not unrankable if, for example, it is five clicks.
Make sure there are clear user journeys and that business critical pages are immediately available (top products, top categories, most requested, etc.). From there, reduce the click depth.
Play navigation defense
Sometimes SEO professionals revise one solution to one problem and inadvertently create another.
Save space in your top performing, most far reaching link property (header, footer, main and page navigation) for the highest value business pages (which is not necessarily linked to the search).
Search is important, but so is ease of use and consumer journey. Avoid the urge to move links into these key areas unless they have clear consumer or business value.
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In general, it includes key-in, conversion, and info pages, but new content for quick indexing does not.
Note: Powerful links are great, but don’t obscure the conversion path for links.
Half your links, double the authority
This isn’t exactly a common scenario, but listen to me.
Pages with hundreds of links affect each individual’s ability to maintain PageRank and move people efficiently. At the very least, you can lose users to click paralysis.
The more pagerank that is taken from each link, the less that happens in the end. For more information, see Google PageRank, Simplified.
Ask yourself: is every link important? Is it adding or confusing the user’s ideal end-action? Does it serve a defined business purpose?
Immediately remove anything that does not serve the site or the user.
Push Content Live with a quick checklist
Great content is often lost in the details of the go-live.
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Hit these key elements to make sure the basics are done and you don’t have to spend hours cleaning up afterwards:
- Compare your keyword data with the terms on the new page.
- Include relevant internal links in the copy of the text.
- Update link map.
- Fast anchor text quality assurance (no “read more”, “click here” or “book a consultation”).
Automate internal link building where you can
Creating links across thousands or hundreds of thousands of pages is no small feat.
“I want to manually create 100,000 links,” no one ever said.
The more you can automate the internal link generation process, the better.
Whether auto internal links are built into the CMS functionality or a custom script inserts them into related category content, being able to scale internal link efforts is critical.
For what it’s worth, the number of manual sitemaps left (still!) out there is terrifying.
This is a no-brainer for keeping this updated whenever you’ve inherited an older site that wasn’t built with automation in mind.
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Other common places to find (or start creating) automatic links: breadcrumbs (see above), related category and product suggestions, and suggestions for reading your next blog.
Setting links when posting content
Any new content should contain links pointing to it from relevant, meaningful pages.
Regardless of whether it is category pages, related blogs, or pages that rank for neighboring high value keywords, no page should be served without a family of links after it.
This mostly happens with outdated blog content (before SEO or corporate content generation was in full swing) or with newly launched products that received a PR boost but didn’t have real SEO administration.
Bonus: Receive cross-departmental buy-in
This honestly requires a stand-alone conversation, but communicating about the link optimization and internal training efforts goes a long way in moving business options forward and not rolling your work back down.
Many well-thought-out efforts have failed because one well-intentioned department undone another’s work.
For important initiatives, it is important to get a buy-in, communicate technical changes and do so before it (possibly particularly) impacts the product.
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Internal links are a powerful tool for SEO in their own right, but only if used correctly and consistently.
Finding ways to manage scaling is especially important for corporate locations. With routine maintenance and thoughtful automation, it is possible to develop a strategy that uses your own content to your advantage.