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15 Internal Linking Mistakes that Impact Your Website SEO

15 Internal Linking Mistakes that Impact Your Website SEO

Are you one of those webmasters that focus solely on backlinks to strengthen website SEO? 

While you are on the right track, I hope you are taking advantage of internal linking as well.

When done right, internal linking helps you with the following: –

  • Simplifies website navigation.
  • Categorizes web pages in a well-defined hierarchy.
  • Helps you build content silos.
  • Provides page authority for all the existing pages within the same domain.
  • Optimizes crawl budget.

Internal linking might seem extremely simple and straightforward; but there are aspects that get ignored even by experienced SEOs.

In this blog, I have tried to sum up the most common mistakes that can arise while you do internal linking.  

15 internal linking mistakes to avoid at all cost

1. Leaving the loose ends – broken links

Non-availability of a link is the biggest mistake that can happen when you link internally. 

This not just breaks the user experience but also prevents the flow of link juice. 

From a user standpoint, it may increase the bounce rate because a user may tend to jump to a competing website when he can’t find the information on yours.

There can be many reasons for such broken links.

This might be the result of incorrect URLs or links to pages that were deleted, or the ones that don’t exist anymore.

Broken links
Broken Links

What to do?

Perform regular site audits to check if there are any broken links in your webpages. 

You should fix a link if it is incorrect or if it leads to an error page, you can remove that link and point it towards a relevant existing page. 

If removing the broken link is not possible, you should redirect from that link to minimize the damage. 

You can use the ‘‘Check My Links’ Chrome extension to quickly highlight all broken links on a webpage.

2. Assuming “the more, the merrier” – too many links

Abundance is not always good. 

Especially not when you are putting a lot of internal links within a page. 

This is not just spamming, but you are averting your users by breaking their reading flow. 

When you have too many links, the SEO juice is divided among all the links on the page, thereby reducing the very purpose for which you have been linking.

Too Many Links
Too many internal links

What to do?

It’s quite alluring to add more internal links, but at the same time, your focus must be on providing value to your users. 

Thus, link only relevant pages across your content. 

While Google Webmasters suggested the presence of no more than 100 links on a webpage, they have removed this instruction now. 

Clearly, there is no correct number (and Wikipedia is a perfect example).

Just strike an optimum link balance that doesn’t hamper the user experience, and you should be good.

3. Favoring minimalism – too fewer links

You may think minimalism is the new buzz, but not when it comes to internal links. 

When you have fewer internal links on a page, you are not using the full potential of your website. 

Having internal links on a page will ensure that the Googlebot and users are taking notice of it. 

When your higher-authority pages point out to other pages on the website, the credibility of such pages increase, and this also improves your crawl budget.

Too fewer internal links
Too fewer internal links

What to do?

To ensure that internal links are optimally placed throughout your website, you must organize it in a silo structure. 

Implementing the silo structure will enable crawlers to discover your web pages effectively through a maintained hierarchy or parent-child page linking.

4. Lost in oblivion – the orphaned pages

The pages that don’t have any incoming links leading to them are called orphaned pages. 

Search engines can’t reach these pages as there is no way of finding them. 

Old blogs and products or services that you no longer provide, are examples of such orphaned pages. 

Orphan Pages

What to do?

During site audit, when you come across orphan pages, see if these are relevant to any other pages on your website. 

If so, interlink these pages to make it discoverable. 

If such pages are there for a purpose, figure out a way to index them.

But if you feel that the content of these orphan pages is of no use, then consider removing the pages from your website.

You can use Screaming Frog to find out such orphaned pages.

5. Usage of “nofollow” attribute

Internal links are placed to enable the link juice flow throughout your website.

But when you use the nofollow attribute, you are telling the search engine to stop crawling that link. Then what’s the use of that internal link at all? 

In some cases, say, for example, a picture gallery or a form, the use of the nofollow attribute is justified. But if you are using the nofollow tag to have the bots focus on a single page, I think you are leaving a lot more on the table than what you are picking up.

Dofollow Nofollow Attributes

What to do?

Inspect your pages to find the links that are tagged with the nofollow attribute. 

See if there is a reason to justify the use of this tag. If not, remove the attribute because it costs you in terms of link equity. 

Use NoFollow SEO Chrome extension to quickly filter out links with these attributes, without getting into the code.

6. Keyword stuffed anchor text

To enable SEO value build up for specific keywords, it’s natural to go overboard with the usage of your anchor text. 

But optimizing anchor text to fit in the keyword phrases won’t lead you anywhere.

Over-optimized anchor text is considered as spam, and your page might be flagged for that. 

What to do?

While referring to the same URL, avoid the usage of same exact match keywords as an anchor text repeatedly. 

You can use its long-tail phrase instead. 

Also, let the anchor text flow naturally relevant to the context of the content. This way, it looks authentic and also conveys the meaning of the page that it leads to. 

7. Having too much crawl depth of important pages

The deeper an important page is linked on your website, the more unlikely it is to be crawled. 

Crawl depth represents the number of clicks it takes to reach a specific page from the Homepage of your website. 

It is observed that if it takes more than three clicks to reach the important pages of your website, it might hamper your SEO efforts. This also makes it difficult for users to navigate to such pages. 

Too much crawl depth

What to do?

Identify the most important pages of your website. 

Design an interlinking structure so that these pages can be reached from the homepage with a lesser number of clicks.

E.g. by making it a part of the menu or the footer or linking it through some content.

8. Linking to the same page with different anchor texts

When you want to rank a particular page for SERP, you might think that providing internal links to that page, using different anchor texts on a single page would be beneficial. But stay away from such a desperate attempt.

At times, doing this might be the only option. 

When you know that you want to rank a particular page for a specific keyword, you are left with no choice. But it is a bad practice to point to a single page from a given page using multiple links. 

What to do?

Prepare a detailed layout of the pages and the corresponding keywords that you want the pages to rank for. 

Once you have this, find out the pages that are relevant for internal linking.

If you don’t have a clear roadmap, the last resort is to finalize the most important page to make it your landing page.

9. Using one anchor text for multiple pages

Your website might have pages that represent similar content; one of your website services is the same as a blog, or there are two products or services that provide similar features. 

In this case, the keywords that you are targeting might be the same. 

But if you want to rank a particular page for a specific keyword, refrain from using that keyword for linking the other page. 

If you don’t do this, Google will consider ranking for both the pages. 

This, in turn, reduces the SEO value of individual pages. Thus, when you use one anchor text for multiple pages, it becomes difficult for these web pages to get higher rank in SERP.

What to do?

When you have similar pages, identify the most important one.

Rank that page for a keyword, and while doing internal linking, you can use variants of the keyword for the other page. 

10. Passing the link equity to unimportant pages

When your website was in its initial phase, you had certain pages that were useful then. But now, these pages might serve no purpose. Having such unimportant pages on your website hampers your crawling budget. 

The link juice flows to such unnecessary pages, too, thereby disrupting your SEO efforts. It also results in poor user experience.

What to do?

Identify the web pages that you no longer require on your website. 

If you are interlinking these pages to the important ones, remove the internal links. 

If such pages are not going to be used at all, remove them from the website. 

11. Having deep redirect chains 

Employing page redirection helps users in navigating through your website. 

But when you fail to redirect correctly, it may create havoc.

When a redirect from a specific page takes the user to another page yet again, it forms a redirect chain. Sometimes, this chain may result in an endless redirect loop.

This not only frustrates your users but also confuses the bot in crawling through the pages. Such redirect chains also hamper your website performance.

As per a study by SEMrush, around 8.58 % of the websites on the internet suffer from such loops. 

Your crawl budget is highly disturbed due to such loops as search bots won’t be following the chain till the end. 

What to do?

Such redirect chains need to be identified on your website. Once you get hold of these, route the link to the destination pages directly. 

The quicker you identify these, the better it is for your website SEO. 

12. Having incorrect redirect codes

After taking care of the redirect loops, check if you are using the right codes for the redirect links. There are two redirect codes: 

  • 301 redirect: This is used for permanent redirects.
  • 302 redirect: This is used for temporary site fixes.

Although 301 redirect tells the crawler not to index the current page and consider the updated source, it does eat up the crawl budget. And in case of a 302 redirect, the bot will index and crawl both the links, thereby reducing the SEO value. 

What to do?

First of all, keep the redirects to the minimum possible bar. 

If you have 302 redirects, ensure that it is removed as soon as its purpose is served, and the target URL is updated. 

13. Internal links to irrelevant pages 

Knowing the benefits of internal linking, it’s quite tempting to link pages within a website as much as possible. 

But while doing so, if you also provide links to pages that are irrelevant to a given page, you are not providing better user experience. 

Such internal linking is harmful to your SEO as it is easy to be identified as spamming. 

Internal Links to irrelevant pages

What to do?

Get all your web pages analyzed. 

Club the ones that are relevant to each other. Keep a lookout for the keywords that you want to rank these pages for. Now carry out internal linking by keeping the relevance factor on board.

14. Internal linking via header tags

It is not a good practice to use H2 and H3 header tags on your website for internal linking. Headers help search engines to identify what the page is about so why dilute their purpose. 

Do so only when you don’t have any other option left, else just leave the headers clean.

Internal links via heading tags

What to do?

Leave the headers alone.

If you want to have internal links, do it through relevant content within the body of the content block.

15. Ignoring the main navigation of website

One of the biggest mistakes that you might be making while doing internal linking is overlooking the potential of the navigation bar of your website. 

The navigation menu can be used to help Google identify the most important pages on your website. 

This also helps your users in browsing through the website easily. And it ensures the flow of the link juice through the most important pages. 

What to do?

Sort out the most important pages of your website and only provide internal links to these pages through the navigation menu. The linking should be done in the form of the parent-child format. 

Wrapping it up

The list of mistakes above might seem overwhelming at first.

But with the right steps and the measures that we explained to overcome those mistakes, you can ace the SEO game for your website. 

Now it’s your turn to leverage the power of internal linking.

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