3 Internal Linking Mistakes to Avoid in 2020

Contributed content / By Sean Chaudhary / 13 February 2020

Internal links are important for improving your website's SEO. In this article, we review 3 common internal linking mistakes and how to avoid each of them.

Internal links help visitors find more useful content on your website. They’re also an important component of any successful SEO strategy.

When it comes to making an effective internal linking strategy, however, stay away from practices that can get you into trouble or slow down your progress.
 
This article goes over 3 big mistakes to avoid as you add internal links and explains what to do instead.

3 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Internal Linking Strategy

  1. Keyword stuffing
  2. Not using follow links
  3. Internally linking header tags

1. Keyword Stuffing 

One of the most common mistakes that people make when developing an internal linking strategy is going overboard with the way they link to relevant articles

Instead of randomly internally linking within your content, aim for the keyword you want that article to rank for without using too many irrelevant keywords or phrases.

Here are some examples of what IS okay: 

  • If you want to learn more about killing off those nature’s most pesky weeds, check out our Complete Guide to Killing Dandelions.
  • Sometimes, you just can’t kill weeds with natural remedies, so it’s time to bring in the big guns and turn to the best weed killers to get the job done.

Here are some examples of what is NOT okay: 

  • Want to learn more about how to kill dandelions? Check out this comprehensive guide we wrote on How to Kill Dandelions, the #1 Best Dandelion Killing Guide 2019 - Get Rid of Dandelion on Your Yard Today.
  • Getting rid of all your weeds can be tough, but with the help of the Best Weed Killers - Top Fertilizers for Killing Weeds, you can get the job done no problem.

If you read the sentence back and it sounds like an infomercial - you’re trying to stuff too many keywords into your internal link anchor text.

To endorse a particular page with a link for a wide range of keywords, follow these steps:

  1. Set up a spreadsheet with all of the keywords you want that page to rank for 
  2. Establish a hierarchy of importance for these keywords based on volume and difficulty
  3. Whenever you link out to that article, use a different keyword from your list in the anchor text 
  4. Try to use the phrases with the high volume more frequently, and distribute keywords used for internal linking anchor text as needed from there 
  5. Try to use the keyword in an organic way when linking, not something that seems outrageous, out of place, or stuffed 

This will take some time, but over the course of the life of your page and website, it will help your internal linking strategy far more efficiently than without this system.

2. Not Using Follow Links 

Without getting too technical, you want to make sure that all of the internal links you are making on your site are what are considered “follow” links, in SEO terms

Designating links as “follow” links tells search engine crawl bots to endorse the link. If a link is coded as “no-follow,” crawlers will not follow and endorse the link.

Basically, if you aren’t using follow links for your internal linking strategy, your efforts will go to waste. 

Luckily, if you’ve never set your website’s links as “no-follow,” then your anchor text internal links are likely set to “follow”. 

The easiest way to check is to inspect the code from your site. By right-clicking on a page, then clicking “Inspect” you can see the HTML code that makes up the page. 

In Chrome, for example, you can easily follow along by scrolling over an element in the code - it will then show you visually where it is on the page by highlighting it. 

Once in Inspect mode, simply look at the link, and look for a rel=”dofollow” or rel=”nofollow”. 

inspect view nofollow link

If you don’t see either rel=”dofollow” or rel=”nofollow” while inspecting the code, search engine bots will automatically treat it as a rel=”follow” link.

Setting up follow links is an easy way to make sure your internal link strategy is working effectively.

3. Internally Linking in Header Tags 

Believe it or not, internally linking to resources on your site from headers like H2’s and H3’s is actually considered bad SEO practice

Internally linking in headers seems spammy to both users and Google. In fact, some SEOs even believe it sends less link juice, or even none. Doing this too often can actually hurt your rankings in some cases.

Google sees headers as a way of organizing the page. Headers help Google interpret what a page contains. Internally linking in headers confuses Google’s search crawlers.

Things get even worse if the header you are using as anchor text for an internal link is not quite related to the article you are linking to.

Instead of linking in headers, focus on making your headers as useful as possible for the page.

Then, if you have relevant content that you want to link to in that subsection, do so accordingly. 

By optimizing headers you’ll avoid confusing crawlers with extra links.

Example of a bad internal link: 

bad internal link example

Example of a good internal link: 

good internal link example

As you can see, both pieces of content link out to a dog food product, but one of them links to the header and a button below, while the other links the image and then the button. 

The second example is what you should strive for. The second internal link example serves a few purposes: 

  • It sends Google the right signals from headers that this page is trying to be indexed for.
  • It gives Google and users an image link and button link. This passes more link juice.

Notice that internal links don’t always have to match keywords. Today, Google’s bots are smart enough to recognize semantics. This means they understand what a section is about, and then understanding that links nearby likely point to this subject. 

So, in this example, even though the button does not have any keywords in it, Google is able to understand that this button links to this food, and indexes it properly for the keywords from the section. 

This is important to keep in mind, because you should try to use these types of links where they make the most sense for users, and have confidence in doing so, knowing Google will still understand your intent to pass on link juice through internal links. 

Avoid Sabotaging Your Internal Linking Strategy

You now have insight into some of the best internal linking strategies and tips in 2020, how will you apply them? 

By implementing these tips and methodologies into your internal linking strategy, you will be able to build powerful, high ranking pages over time as your site becomes an ever more comprehensive resource in your industry. 

This is one of the many important ranking factors that successful brands are able to leverage through the power of SEO and digital marketing

Over time, if you focus heavily on becoming a resource that answers user questions, and have a strong internal linking strategy built around your user’s needs, your site will experience massive organic growth. 
 

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