How to Audit Internal Links - Complete Guide
Search Engine Optimization

How to Audit Internal Links - Complete Guide

11/30/2022 7:47 AM by Admin in Seo


Internal links that are poorly structured may be hurting the website's overall performance. When auditing your internal links, keep these three points in mind.

how to audit internal links - complete guide

Your website is a network of connected pages.

Whatever problems it has with user experience and SEO, the issue always comes down to these two fundamental components:

  • the actual pages.
  • the linkages, also known as internal links, that connect them.

Because of this, internal links should be your second top focus.

We'll investigate all the ways internal links could be hurting your site's performance now.

1. Revise Existing Website Structure

A structured website is one that has been optimized.
Too many websites lack any sort of logical organization.

What causes this to occur?

Usually, it's due to the haphazard addition of website material without any clear strategy. This can occur when business requirements change and things that were once critical become less important. Get a bird's eye view of your website architecture so you can see what you're dealing with.

 Ensuring a Consistent Structure

According to John Mueller of Google, the way your webpages are interlinked gives Google "context."

Mueller said:

“In general I’d be careful to avoid setting up a situation where normal website navigation doesn’t work. So we should be able to crawl from one URL to any other URL on your website just by following the links on the page.”

Mueller further expanded on that idea in an important way:

“If that’s not possible then we lose a lot of context. So if we’re only seeing these URLs through your sitemap file then we don’t really know how these URLs are related to each other and it makes it really hard for us to be able to understand how relevant is this piece of content in the context of your website. So that’s one thing to… watch out for.”

Internal links help the search engine understand how your sites are related and what their roles are.

Therefore, you must be careful that your website is not a maze of pages that are linked at random. Thus, the context of the website is confused.

internal links audit help

 

Additionally, you must ensure that the structure you choose is the best one.

Which one is best relies largely on your company's requirements, however here are several possibilities to take into account:

  • There are just two levels of hierarchy implied on a flat website structure: the homepage and the rest of the pages (linked to directly from the homepage). This is obviously only appropriate for smaller websites and gets quite difficult when dealing with thousands and thousands of pages.

flat website structure

  • When you start with the homepage and work your way down to the individual pages within each category and subcategory, you have a pyramid structure. That is one of the most common approaches to set up an ecommerce store. 

 

  • When you organize your content by topics, you have a thematically clustured structure. And not in a pyramidal fashion, but rather with one "pillar" page and several supporting pages in each cluster. In this instance, the pillar page discusses the subject broadly. While the supplementary ones, which concentrate on particular long tails, all link back to the "pillar," "voting" for its expertise on the subject:

internal links audit help 2

 

This strategy became particularly popular among websites that rely extensively on blogging, and it proved itself in several studies.

 Improving Click Depth

I'm not going to reiterate the tried-and-true three-click rule.

Many studies have proven that the number of clicks has no effect on user satisfaction or success rate, therefore there's no reason to make all of your content available in three clicks just for the sake of UX.

However, you still need to take click depth into account in terms of SEO because Google values different depths of sites differently.

Click depth problems can occasionally just happen accidentally. So, start by determining which pages are the most crucial. Ensure they weren't unintentionally buried deeply. Problems with click depth are frequently caused by your pagination.

I strongly recommend revising your pagination.

 Getting Rid of Orphan Pages

Orphans are sites that were completely excluded from your website structure for the following reason: They have no internal links going to them. This is another very typical problem. Most likely, these are some older pages to which deleted material had links or new pages you failed to include to the navigation.

Nofollowing and noindexing are mistakes you've made. Like if you decided to have Google erase your paginated pages from its index (I've seen folks do this). Users could still access the deeper pages that the paginated pages referred to, but the Google bot couldn't:

Internal links audit help 3

Orphan pages are difficult to find, which is an issue when trying to fix them.

If they were added to the sitemap but not the navigation, you might look for them in the XML sitemap and Google index (in case Google knows about them because of external links).

Also, light up a crawling tool to scan your website like the Google crawler does, and see if any forbid directives are preventing it from accessing certain areas.

Content Duplication Fix

Inconsistent interlinking may result in duplicate versions of your pages, which is another typical problem.

Similarly, not all of your internal links have following slashes. These two URLs appear to be separate duplicate pages if a redirect is not in place:

https://example.com/page1/

https://example.com/page1

The www and non-www versions of your site, tracking variables in the URLs, and other instances of content duplication may all be experiencing the same issue.

Relevant Tool for fixing duplication of URLs: Website Internal links analyzer

It's important to remember that you shouldn't just set up the redirects in this case. To stop continually causing pointless redirection, you must fix the internal links themselves.

2. Auditing the PageRank Flow

I won't get into the details of how PageRank functions in practice. I'll just point out that PageRank has been an important Google ranking factor for the past 20 years.

Because of this, you need a carefully thought-out website structure that logically delegated responsibility to your most crucial pages.

However, you must still take steps to ensure that the PageRank your website receives from other sources circulates freely across the website and is not lost.

Stopping the Loss/ Evaporation of 'Nofollow' PageRank

I don't typically believe what Google representatives say, but the official statement is as follows:

“When you have a page with ten PageRank points and ten outgoing links, and five of those links are nofollowed… the five links without nofollow would flow one point of PageRank each.”

This suggests that internal links with nofollow attribute "evaporate" PageRank from your website.Through the link, PageRank points are transferred away from the original website but never to another page. Therefore, there is a simpler fix if you're still nofollowing your internal links:

Make sure there aren't too many internal links leading to the less vital stuff on your website.

PageRank Release from Dead Ends
Dead-end pages, or pages that don't pass the PageRank they've received elsewhere on your site, are another snare for your PageRank flow.

This might occur when the pages have no external links at all (which is a vexing experience both for users and the bots).

Dead ends are also your:

  • Noindex webpages.
  • broken links to pages 4xx and 5xx.
  • redirect loops

so forth.

As your website develops and changes, these problems frequently recur. Auditing your broken links, redirects, and robot directives therefore needs to become a regular practice.

Relevant SEO Tools: www redirect checker robots.txt generator, broken links checker, url rewriting tool

 

3. Revision of Anchor Text

Internal links contribute to the authority and hierarchy of your pages as well as their relevant relevancy. And even though these days it takes much more than simply anchor text to rank a page for a keyword, Google still uses them to determine the subject matter of your pages.

Incorporating Meaningful Anchors

Meaningless anchor text like "click here" makes little sense from both an SEO and user experience perspective. They merely fail to inform users and bots of the destination of the link. You therefore have every reason to include some keywords in them provided that Google still uses internal anchors and that doing so will not result in a penalty.

The potential (although somehow questionable) first link priority rule is what you should focus on here, though. According to this, just the first anchor text matters to Google if "Page A" links out to "Page B" twice. Consequently, it may be a good idea to make your top navigation, which search engine bots find before they reach the main content:

Limiting the use of image links

John Mueller of Google suggests against utilizing image links without anchor texts:

“The one thing I would avoid doing is changing anchor text into an image. So if you have… a fancy font or something that you want to use on your pages and you change a link from being a text link to an image link and you don’t have any textual kind of connection with that image for that link then it’s really hard for us to understand what the anchor text is supposed to be.”

Therefore, if you use images to link across sites and you want things to stay this way for any reason, at the very least, make sure that each image has a descriptive alt text.

Conclusion

About the many internal linking strategies and best practices, I could go on and on. However, the three topics we covered—hierarchy, authority, and keyword relevance—are the three pillars from which you might start.

Finally, keep in mind:

Keep in mind how a link's placement on a page affects how important it is. Onclick= links should be used with caution on websites that use JavaScript and other probable indexation issues. Use appropriate Schema.org markup for lists, internal bio links (due to E-A-T), and breadcrumbs (now available for recipes, movies, courses, and articles).

Relevant Article:

Find and Fix Broken Internal LInks

How to avoid Keyword Stuffing

More Relevant SEO Tools

Website LInk Analyzer Tool

Website Broken Links Checker Tool