Targeted SEO doesn't just include good keyword research or optimizing your texts. Link building is also an essential part but many website owners forget about internal linking. Let us show you why setting internal links is so important and which plugins can help you with an internal linking strategy.
Everyone puts a lot of effort into external links or backlinks, aka link building, while internal linking is often left by the wayside. This is a big mistake as there are many benefits in choosing the right links. From the perspective of your readers, there's the benefit of enjoying high-quality additional information. And Google also rewards a targeted link structure.
WordPress itself doesn't have any nifty functions to help you set the right links. That means you'll usually have to use other tools on your website. This article will guide you through the options you have with WordPress for internal linking.
Why internal links are so important
Internal links or hyperlinks are references within a website or domain. While a normal (external) link points from domain A to domain B, an internal link points from webpage A of domain A to webpage B of domain A. Generally speaking, the internal link has the task of drawing your visitors' attention to further relevant content.
In the same way, internal links help search engines to better understand the website as a whole. Navigation is not the only effective means for this: internal links are just as often used surrounding or in the content. Likewise, for example, in the sidebar or in the footer. And, of course, in the texts themselves.
Internal Links & SEO
We all know that it's important to build external links. Because high-quality backlinks are a ranking factor in Google – alongside many other things. Check out our Backlinks guide for more insights and guidance.
With a corresponding number of external links, Google and other search engines can see that your content is of high quality. However, this doesn't mean the number of links is the only important factor. It also depends on the quality of the linking websites and other factors.
Google doesn't only look at the number of links that come from other websites. Internal links are also taken into account by the search engine. At least to a certain degree within the complex algorithm.
In the Webmaster Guidelines, however, Google talks about using link texts wisely. They should therefore be used in a targeted manner and given useful anchor texts. This is also good for user-friendliness. From an SEO perspective, you should pay close attention to your internal links. Because an internal link doesn't only inherit "link juice" or "ranking power". Rather, you should understand it as a kind of second navigation.
Both visitors and Google find further, perhaps relevant, content on the internal links of your website. On the one hand, this discovery increases their length of stay, which may also play a role in the ranking. On the other hand, Google recognizes there's other content that may have earned a good ranking.
Moreover, a link in the navigation can give a subpage a significant boost. Not only the largest search engine Google knows that navigation is one of the most important elements of a website. It should guide the user through the content and thus provides clarity.
Conversely, links in the navigation are usually subpages that are very important to you. Google & Co. take this into account in any case – if it not to a great extent. You should only display content highlights there. And not, due to legacy, create mega-menus that contain every piece of content on your website.
Internal linking and link structure with WordPress
As I mentioned at the beginning, WordPress doesn't have many features by default to help you build a good internal link structure. When setting a link in WordPress, you can only choose whether it should open in a new window or not. Even with simple link attributes such as "nofollow" or "sponsored" you have to accept detours, unless you've installed a relevant SEO plugin for WordPress.
You do have the option, as shown in the picture, to search for further content so you don't have to copy the links manually. But that's it for the functionalities. If you want to add the attributes mentioned above, you only have the code editor left. Otherwise, you have to install the necessary tools – or find a different way to organize yourself to get more possibilities out of your website.
I really recommend paying particular attention to your internal links. In my more than 10 years as a blogger, I've learned that internal links offer more opportunities than most people think possible. You can see this when you measure how visitors navigate through your website or when they trigger a desired action ("conversion"). Very often, a targeted internal link structure plays a role in this.
WordPress plugins for internal linking
Of course, you can keep an Excel spreadsheet that documents the internal links among but it's hardly a convenient option. Alternatively, you can use a paid SEO suite. These often offer modules you can use to document and optimize your internal linking structure.
But why resort to an external solution when WordPress can be expanded really easily with plugins? Using relevant plugins, you can make improvements directly in the WordPress backend. This help you choose suitable links in a comfortable way and supports you in the long term. Let's take a look at some plugins on the market and what each of them has to offer.
First things first, Link Whisper is not a free plugin: a single license costs $77 per year. Unlike many other plugins, it's not based on tags, categories or the titles of posts. Suggestions for the internal links come from a kind of artificial intelligence.
While you're still writing, Link Whisper suggests relevant articles that you can link to a keyword if necessary. In addition, the plugin shows you how many internal links a subpage has already received in your page structure.
This signaling allows you to better distribute your internal links over time and not link to the same content over and over again. On the one hand, this strengthens the individual subpages to achieve better rankings. At the same time, it improves the visitor's experience on your website.
Internal Links Manager
The Internal Links Manager is a free WordPress plugin you can download normally from WordPress.org or install in your WordPress backend. With just under 6,000+ active installations, however, the Internal Links Manager is not yet very widespread.
The way the plugin works is really simple. In the settings, you define a few other general things in addition to the post types. Then you can create various internal links and assign a link text:
As soon as you use one of the link texts in the editor, the plugin replaces it in the frontend with the internal link you've defined. This makes it easier for you to work with the anchor texts. In the field of SEO, linking several subpages with the same anchor text isn't recommend because otherwise the pages can get in each other's way in the search engine.
Yet Another Related Post Plugin (YARPP)
The plugin YARPP, or Yet Another Related Post Plugin, is rather simple in nature. Unlike Link Whisper or the Internal Links Manager, it's not about optimizing your internal linking via link creation.
This plugin is a little simpler. You can use YARPP to display additional relevant content at the end of your posts. You can set how the links should be displayed in the options, either as a simple list or with thumbnails:
You can also easily define the container with captions and texts, as well as the number of internal links and their weighting. In the upper area, you can select the individual post types for which YARPP should automatically display links.
Some people will certainly have heard of Yoast SEO for optimizing WordPress sites for search engines. Especially in the form of the metadata that you can adjust in the editor. The plugin offers some setting options below the content.
However, the reason why I want to include Yoast SEO in this list is the nice feature in the post overview. Take a look at this image:
As you can see, Yoast has created some columns on the far right of the page. The plugin shows how well the post is designed in terms of SEO. You can also see how many inbound (right) and outbound (left) internal links the respective post has.
You can already keep an eye on potential links with this list – without an additional plugin. Unlike Link Whisper, Yoast doesn't show you at a glance which post could still do with an internal link. Especially not if you have hundreds of articles in your system. With a little more effort, however, you can achieve a very similar result. And that's what makes the Yoast SEO plugin a real insider tip in my opinion.
Conclusion on internal linking with WordPress
Search engines take several factors into account when ranking in search results. We'll probably never get to see the detailed calculation. SEO has always been a mix of experience and trial and error – sometimes these are positive and sometimes negative.
In recent years in the industry, however, it's become apparent that not only keywords or link building from external websites play an important role. Internal links should be considered at least equally important. And yet, many website operators neglect internal links completely or at least to a high degree.
Think of your link structure as a second navigation to point visitors and search engines to relevant content. This brings more user-friendliness (usability), which can lead to visitors staying longer on your site. At the same time, it increases the chances that they'll interact with your website's goals by spending more time and attention on it. In addition, you show the search engines that further contributions to your concept play a role and should be taken into account for the rankings.
WordPress needs to be upgraded
The problem with WordPress, however, is that it hardly offers any functions for monitoring internal links. At least not in the basic version. Test the plugins recommended in this guide and see if they support your workflow when writing and creating landing pages. My personal favorites here are Yoast SEO in combination with Yet Another Related Posts. On my own blogs, they do a great job that's always paid off in the long run.
If you then place the most important articles in the navigation without overdoing it, there are hardly any reasons standing in the way of good rankings. Simply realizing that internal links are important to achieve better results often helps in itself. How have you approached internal linking on your WordPress website or in your WooCommerce store?