A link-building strategy is vital for any solid SEO plan. This includes not only getting external links to get more authority, but also exploring internal links (and we shouldn’t underestimate the opportunities they bring).
In fact, a new study made by Zyppy, an enterprise focused on SEO solutions, showed how internal links, when used correctly, can be a pretty powerful strategy to increase traffic.
Most marketers focused more on guest posting or getting backlinks—which are also highly effective strategies, although it’s curious that, according to a Backlinko study, 94% of the world’s content has zero external links.
However, Zyppy showed data that reinforces the importance of working on your internal linking tactics as it also plays a vital part in any SEO strategy.
But if you think working with internal links is a piece of cake… think again. You’ll see that taking care of your URLs is not a simple task —- just take into consideration that 66.5% of links to sites are dead, which is part of the struggle that SEO professionals and marketers face.
Let’s dig into that study to see what insights we can get for your strategies, shall we?
Before we throw in our insights and tips, it is important to understand the characteristics of this study and how it was done:
- Zyppy looked at 23 million internal links across 1,800 websites, representing approximately 520,000 individual URLs. Then they compared these to data from Google Search Console to determine search clicks for each URL.
- The whole internet is home to 1,6 billion sites. For this investigation, they used 23 million internal links. Even though it is a large amount, it only represents a small portion of the whole web.
- This is a correlation study, which means we are going to see how one factor is related to another. It is not necessarily scientific, but it can be very useful when planning your next strategy.
Something that is very interesting to look at is how internal links work for these sites.
The study discovered that URLs with at least 40-44 internal links received 8 clicks, while those with 10 to 14 links only receive 2 Google Search clicks. But, those clicks start to fall and rise again when we add more and more internal links. Basically, they remain unstable.
We must highlight that this research doesn’t specify if these are unique links on the body text or navigational links. So we can easily assume that when it comes to 40-45 links on a URL, they mostly come from the navigation of the site itself.
The big question is how to find a balance between navigational links and unique links. This is where information architecture and anchor texts come to play a big role in a linking strategy.
This is how the research supports it.
The importance of site structure
Consumers nowadays have higher expectations when it comes to the usability of web pages. The issue goes beyond the development of the site. Good SEO is also thinking of the architecture of the site from the beginning of the project.
For this reason, it’s necessary to think about the navigational links as something that is going to complement the information architecture of the website.
I like to think of information architecture as building a house: The first thing you will see is probably a living room, and every corridor will take you to other places in the house, like the kitchen or bedroom. A website works in the same way, looking for usability and experience.
That is how you have to rethink your internal linking building.
How to use anchor text
Another outcome of the investigation was the correlation between Anchor text variations and Google Clicks. The conclusion was that it is ok to have many variants of anchor text for a URL, but the data becomes less reliable after 25 variations.
Here again, navigational links play an interesting role. For example, you can have 500 hyperlinks redirecting to the same site, but using the same anchor text. And this will still be considered a good PageRank.
The approach for Anchor text is choosing the keywords or variations you are going to have for that piece of content.
The same research also shows some exciting data about it. The outcome concluded that using an exact match Anchor text can increase the click for that content.
Why not topic clusters?
Besides Anchor texts or site structure, adding topic clusters to your SEO strategy can be good for your internal linking strategy. Not only will it help you to organize your internal linking strategy, but it also boosts your authority on topics rather than just keywords.
The secret of this is that you will be telling Google that you have expertise in certain topics. Additionally, it will make clear to search engines which page to prioritize.
On the other hand, organizing your web content into clusters (also known as silos) will increase the sense of your internal linking, giving more reason to be there as you use them in your content.
Be sure about where your digital presence is
Something that is regularly repeated throughout the study is that the results are not the same for all projects. Small businesses showed different data to larger or popular sites.
In fact, the majority of the results we analyzed here, worked better on sites that already had a large amount of traffic. Remember, this is not an ultimatum for not applying these strategies.
However, knowing where your project is in the digital landscape is vital when making any decisions, not only when it comes to internal linking but in Marketing as a whole.
And finally, don’t forget about good internal linking practices
The investigation concluded with more interesting insights, such as the impact of naked URLs and empty Anchor text is low when it comes to traffic.
In other words, the research reinforces that the site is like an ecosystem you have to take care of. Internal links are an important factor in an SEO strategy, just as backlinks.
So let’s not forget the other good practices for your internal links:
- Repair broken links or redirect links.
- Know which pages are more relevant to your domain
- Clean or optimize the pages that are not important for your site.
Any Marketing strategy needs to be diversified, you can’t expect your business to grow if you only pay attention to one factor. Having a balanced focus on SEO, links, content, and so on will make a champion strategy.