Internal Linking is the most overlooked tool in the WordPress SEO toolbox. Many people publish great material, but it is the links within that material that help your users see the content in context and understand what your website is actually about.
What are the essential internal linking plugins for WordPress? I’ll discuss the reasons that internal linking is beneficial and review the essential internal linking plugins that we use in our business.
Links and SEO
Links for Search Engines
It is the links in your content that tell Google how important an item is for your website and by extension, help Google to understand the bigger picture, how important a post is relative to other content and where it sits in the context of the whole site.
Links for Readers
The links in your content alert readers to the existence of other relevant articles in the site and externally.
Using internal links keeps readers on the site for longer, reduces the bounce rate and helps establish the site as an authoritative source of information.
When Should You Use Internal Links?
Typically an embedded link inside the content is used when there is other content available that goes into a topic in more detail. For example, here I am talking about Internal Links in detail, but they are a vital part of a larger SEO strategy.
There are two ways of creating these links
- Anchor text that describes the content it is pointing to indirectly (as above).
- Anchor Text that describes the text be referencing it directly (as below).
For example, if the concepts we are discussing here are entirely new to you, why not check out my earlier post “How to begin with SEO“.
A pattern that I have been guilty of in the past is writing new content and linking it back at the time of writing to a couple of relevant posts. The problem with this is that there is nothing on the site pointing to the new post, and that is a valuable opportunity to pass up.
By not doing this part of the job properly new posts miss out on a regular drip of traffic referred from older more established posts and if internal linking is ignored entirely then older posts simply disappear from the radar.
How Many Links Should you have?
Is there an optimal number of links? I don’t like reading link infested text very much myself, but I do appreciate the possibility of discovering more relevant content on a site.
Cara Bowles of Northcutt suggests a link every 230 words and this feels about right. Too many links and your content looks a mess, too few in a long piece of content and you might wonder about that content’s authority. See her article – How many Outbound Links per Word or Page?
So what can be done to help keep evergreen material in the spotlight and give new material a helping hand? It’s a tedious task to carry out manually. I’m going to talk about the essential internal linking plugins, the ones that we use in our business.
Rank Math is the software I use to help optimise my on-page content for Search. It provides explicit support for a content strategy that relies on pillar posts being referenced by other pieces of content.
How does it work with automating internal linking?
WordPress supports categories and tags. These are much misunderstood, they serve no purpose whatsoever to Search Engines, but they are designed to provide meta information to WordPress enabling search. Rank Math leverages the Category of a post to suggest links from or to posts in the same category. These links can be added semi automatically at the time of writing. However they intuitively help to link new content to older content, keeping that older content evergreen.
This is just one of the ways Rank Math sets itself apart from the competition. We use it to optimise on-page SEO on all of our sites. If you’re interested, take a look at the link here.
Link Whisper is perhaps the most essential internal linking plugin you’ll find. It specialises in automating internal linking. It also leverages the Category and Tag metadata in WordPress and when you have a lot of content, really starts to earn its keep.
The main dashboard shows you an overview of your site and its links.
From there you can click through to a detailed Links Report and add inbound internal links from the report. The optimal number of links can be specified in the Settings menu along with types of content you want to link to, words to ignore and a dozen other fine tunings.
The most interesting capability and the one that sets Link Whisper apart from the competition is its ability to create links across websites.
If you have more than one site you can setup Link Whisper to suggest links to and from your other sites as well. This is incredibly useful if like me you have sites that are thematically connected but aimed at different audiences.
The one criticism I have of Link Whisper is that it tends to over suggest. Every conceivable link is offered up and some are not particularly useful. So I run this task manually and simply add the links I think add value to my content.
If you’d like to check out Link Whisper take a look at the link here.
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