My team conducted a study on adding internal links to identified orphan pages across websites. The results showed that 83% of those orphan pages experienced an increase in their search rankings. As great as that might sound to us, internal linking is often an overlooked aspect, hastily tacked on after the bulk of content creation is complete. 

This oversight can spiral into significant issues, dragging down your site’s user experience, diminishing its visibility on search engines, and compromising overall performance. Failing to strategically utilize internal links not only hampers your website’s ability to guide visitors effectively but also squanders opportunities to enhance your SEO efforts.

This article aims to spotlight common internal linking mistakes and provide actionable solutions to prevent them. By understanding and rectifying these errors, you can improve your website’s navigability and search engine rankings.

What is Internal Linking?

Internal links are hyperlinks that connect one page of a website to another page within the same domain. They serve three critical functions:

Improves Your Rankings & Traffic

Internal links are crucial for SEO because they help search engines like Google discover and index new pages on your site. By linking relevant pages together, you make it easier for search engines to crawl your site and understand the structure and content of your website. This can lead to faster indexing and improved visibility in search results.

For example, if you have a blog post about healthy eating, linking it to related articles on exercise or recipes can boost its visibility. This interconnected web of content enhances the likelihood that more of your pages will rank higher in search engine results, driving more traffic to your site.

Enhances User Experience

Another significant advantage of internal linking is its ability to enhance user experience on your website. By providing links to related content, you guide visitors through your website, making it easier for them to find the information they’re looking for. This not only keeps users engaged longer but also helps reduce bounce rates—a metric that indicates how quickly people leave your site after viewing only one page.

Consider a user who lands on an article about beginner yoga poses. If this page includes links to articles on yoga gear recommendations or advanced poses, the visitor is more likely to stay and explore these resources. This seamless navigation aids in creating a positive experience, encouraging users to return.

Distributes Page Authority

Internal linking plays a vital role in distributing page authority across your website. In the realm of SEO, authority refers to the importance or credibility of a webpage in the eyes of search engines. When high-authority pages link to less prominent ones within the same domain, they pass along some of their authority. This process helps improve the ranking potential of linked pages.

Imagine your homepage has garnered numerous backlinks over time, boosting its authority. By strategically placing internal links from your homepage to newer or less visible pages, you effectively spread this accumulated authority throughout your site. Such distribution can elevate the overall SEO performance by lifting lesser-known pages in search rankings.

If you’re interested, my colleague published an article that discusses internal linking in full detail

13 Internal Linking Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

Internal linking is a powerful tool, but like any tool, it must be used correctly to be effective. Unfortunately, many website owners inadvertently undermine their internal linking efforts by making common mistakes that can hurt their SEO and user experience.

In this section, we’ll explore 13 internal linking mistakes and the best practices to avoid them.

1. Overusing Exact Match Anchor Text

While including your target keyword in anchor text can be beneficial, overusing the exact same phrasing comes across as unnatural and over-optimized. This could potentially raise red flags with search engines and be viewed as an attempt to manipulate rankings.

For example, let’s say your website sells running shoes and you’re trying to rank for the keyword “best running shoes”. You write several blog posts and within each post, you include links back to your main product page. Each time you link to the product page, you use the exact same anchor text “best running shoes.” This is what is meant by overusing exact match anchor text and should be avoided.

Here are some tips on how to avoid overusing exact match anchor text:

  • Use a variety of anchor text variations, including partial matches, related phrases, branded terms, and natural language. For example, for “best running shoes”, you can use anchor text like “top shoes for running” or “best shoes for running”
  • Avoid linking with the exact same anchor text repeatedly on a page or across your site
  • Focus on creating authentic anchor text that sounds natural and provides clarity for users

2. Linking Only to Top-Level Pages

Many sites make the mistake of only internally linking to their homepage, category pages, or other top-level destinations. While foundational pages are important, neglecting to link deeper into your site prevents the spread of link equity and authority to other valuable content.

For example, many e-commerce websites make the mistake of primarily linking users only to its homepage and category pages. This prevents deeper pages like blog posts and product detail pages from becoming discoverable through internal links.

Below are some best practices to follow:

  • Identify internal pages that could benefit from increased visibility and link to them contextually
  • Review your analytics to find high-potential pages that drive conversions or engagement
  • Implement smart link distribution tactics to share authority more evenly across your site

3. Ignoring Link Placement and Context

The location and surrounding context of internal links play a major role in the user experience. Haphazardly placing links without considering relevance or flow can severely disrupt the reader’s journey and comprehension.

Here’s an example of poor link placement and context:

Notice how the large section of text links clustered at the end of the post has no contextual relationship to the surrounding context. It contributes nothing to the flow of the content and zero context too. A better way to insert links is to insert them throughout the post naturally where they contextually fit.

Best Practices:

  • Add internal links at logical transition points where additional context would enhance the topic
  • Refrain from overlinking or clustering too many links in one area
  • Opt for inline text links over isolated listings whenever possible for seamless content integration

4. Creating Dead-End Pages

Pages without any internal links are dead-ends, providing no way for users or search engines to discover more of your related content. This creates avoidable content silos that limit findability.

For example, Page E can be easily found through other pages but leads the visitors nowhere.

Here are some tips on how to avoid having dead-end pages within your site:

  • Conduct regular crawl audits to identify dead-end pages
  • Implement a standard of linking out from every page of your site
  • Use contextual content sections or footer areas to link orphan pages properly

5. Neglecting Broken Links

Broken internal links create a frustrating experience that quickly erodes user trust. They effectively send visitors to a dead-end while preventing search engines from crawling your site effectively.

Broken links can be easily avoided by running the following:

  • Use LinkVector to check for broken internal links frequently
  • Promptly fix or remove any broken links discovered
  • Set up redirects for pages that were deleted or moved to preserve link equity

6. Using Irrelevant Links

Internal links that seem out of context or completely unrelated to the content they are linked from serve little purpose. Users and search engines rely on links being relevant and logical.

Imagine you’re running a food blog but consistently link posts about vegetarian meals to pages promoting beef and poultry cooking guides, which are clearly unrelated (and insensitive!) content connections.

The best practices that you can cultivate to avoid the mistakes are:

  • Thoroughly understand the topic and purpose of every page before linking to/from it
  • Consider the specific user intent behind why someone landed on that content
  • Regularly revisit and assess whether older internal links still make contextual sense

7. Overloading Pages with Too Many Links

While effective internal linking is important, overcrowding pages with an excessive number of links create a cluttered and overwhelming experience that can deter users.

For example, a product detail page on a site had over 100 injected internal links, completely cluttering the page and making it hard to focus on the product details. The example I’ve shown below is merely a fraction of the whole page.

To avoid overloading pages with too many links, you should:

  • Establish reasonable limits for the maximum number of links per page
  • Focus on quality over quantity – keep links to only the most pertinent and helpful references
  • Break up particularly text-dense content into multiple pages to disperse links appropriately

8. Failing to Use Descriptive Anchor Texts

Using generic, ambiguous anchor text like “click here” or “this page” misses an opportunity to signal context to users and search engines better. Descriptive anchor text is a missed opportunity on many sites. Please see the below image as an example.

These anchor text made it difficult for users and search engines to understand the context and relevance of the linked pages, leading to poor user experience and missed keyword relevance opportunities.

Here are some best practices to use descriptive anchor text:

  • Use specific, contextually relevant phrasing in anchor text to describe what’s being linked to
  • Include contextual keywords but favor natural language over repetitive exact-match anchors
  • Avoid using ambiguous or generic terms like “link”, “here”, or “this page”

9. Failing to Consider Link Equity Distribution

Many sites inadvertently develop an imbalanced internal link structure over time, with certain pages receiving a disproportionate share of links while others are neglected. This unevenness prevents the equitable distribution of link equity.

Follow the tips below to ensure an effective distribution of link equity:

  • Use visualization tools to analyze your link graph and identify pages lacking internal links
  • Prioritize linking to pages you want to rank well in search compared to others
  • Implement strategies like internal linking tiers and smart siloing to distribute juice intelligently

10. Not Refreshing or Optimizing Older Internal Links

As sites grow and evolve, it’s common for the content topic, structure, and URLs to change over time. This can make older internal links obsolete or less relevant without being refreshed.

For example, an e-commerce site had internal links dating back years pointing toward product pages that no longer existed or had updated URLs. This caused users and crawlers to be directed to outdated, moved, or non-existent pages, eroding trust and hindering proper indexation.

To avoid this issue from happening, you should:

  • Perform scheduled internal link audits to identify links in need of updating
  • Use crawl analysis to pinpoint hard-coded internal links that grew obsolete over time
  • Implement a policy of routinely revisiting top referral pages and refreshing their internal links

11. Lack of Contextual or In-Content Linking

Limiting internal links to navigation menus or isolated link sections misses an opportunity to connect users with related content at logical points within the content body itself. In-content linking allows you to suggest additional resources to readers at the precise moments they are likely to be most receptive – as the current content topic logically flows into related subject matter. This enhances content connectivity by demonstrating semantic links that may otherwise go unnoticed with menu links alone.

Here are some best practices to increase the usage of contextual linking:

  • Identify transition points where additional context could extend content value for users
  • Write with interlinking in mind during the content creation process
  • Use internal linking tools like LinkVector to weave contextual internal links for smoother transitions strategically

12. Inconsistencies in Internal Linking Practices

Not having a defined strategy for internal linking is a common pitfall we see in most websites. For example, most websites have sections that are heavily interlinked while others are barren of internal links, and anchor text formatting are completely unstandardized.

This leads websites to develop an inconsistent approach over time, resulting in a disjointed experience that complicates user navigation and sends mixed signals to search crawlers.

To ensure a more unified system of internal linking, you should:

  • Develop a holistic internal linking framework with clear guidelines
  • Use quality assurance checklists to audit for inconsistencies before publishing
  • Leverage automation and AI tools to identify and address internal linking irregularities

13. Forgetting UX Principles and Accessibility

When implementing internal links, far too many sites neglect crucial user experience (UX) factors beyond just the technical SEO implications. How those links are presented and formatted impacts vital UX elements like visual hierarchy, content scannability, accessibility, and mobile friendliness.

Burying links in hard-to-find places, using poor text ratios, or failing to optimize link formatting for smaller screens creates a subpar experience – especially for those using screen readers or mobile devices. 

Your internal linking strategy must balance technical considerations with UX best practices around visual formatting, accessibility standards, responsive design, and more. Those links don’t just shape SEO – they shape real user experiences too.

An SEO-optimized site that’s difficult to navigate defeats the purpose.

Best Practices:

  • Design internal links with visual hierarchy in mind using clear, distinguishable formatting
  • Follow web accessibility guidelines around link formatting for disabilities
  • Ensure links are properly responsive and portable across devices

Avoid Internal Linking Mistakes With LinkVector

Internal linking is important and should be one of the pillars of building your website. However, mastering it is not an easy task because avoiding internal linking mistakes is just as important as building your internal linking. Fixing and avoiding these mistakes can be one of the toughest obstacles and very time-consuming.

If you’re ready to overcome these obstacles and start building your internal linking empire with the highest precision and hassle-free, it’s time to join LinkVector. Our cutting-edge software combines advanced NLP, LLM, and Big Data tech with customized recommendations to identify and rectify linking errors with pinpoint accuracy. Try LinkVector today and experience the future of precise internal linking!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is internal linking?

Internal linking refers to the practice of creating links within a website that connect one page to another within the same domain. It helps improve site navigation and distribute page authority throughout the site.

What are common internal linking mistakes?

Common internal linking mistakes include overusing exact-match anchor text, linking only to top-level pages, neglecting broken links, not using descriptive anchor texts, creating too many links on a single page, ignoring opportunities for deep linking, and inconsistency in linking practices.

How does poor internal linking affect SEO?

Poor internal linking can negatively impact SEO by hindering search engine crawlers from effectively indexing pages. It also dilutes link equity across the site and can lead to a poor user experience, further affecting bounce rates and engagement metrics critical for SEO.

Why is anchor text important in internal linking?

Anchor text is crucial because it provides context to both users and search engines about the linked page’s content. Using descriptive and varied anchor text helps improve relevancy signals for search engines and enhances user understanding and navigation.

How often should I review my site’s internal linking structure?

It’s advisable to review your site’s internal linking structure periodically or after significant changes like a redesign or adding new content sections. Regular audits help identify broken links, opportunities for improvement, and ensure alignment with best SEO practices.