Olga MykhoparkinaApr 23, 2021
It is no secret that links contribute to the SEO performance of any website. The more links are pointing to a certain website, the more authority it has and the higher chances it stands to rank better in search engine results. In simple terms, the more people link to you, the more trustworthy you are in Google’s eyes.
However, there is something that many marketing professionals often forget. Besides links from external websites, your own internal linking can bring you a massive boost in organic traffic and improve your SEO performance. For example, the folks at Ninja Outreach saw a 40% traffic increase after redoing their internal links.
Backlink building (both external and internal) is an integral part of the SaaS content marketing strategy. One thing to keep in mind though is having high-quality, value-packed articles on the blog, otherwise no amount of links in the world will help you rank high. Read our SaaS content writing guide to get that part right.
When your blog articles meet the quality and SEO standards, it’s time to give them an internal link boost. But how do you do internal linking properly and where do you even get started? Let’s show you how you can make some quick wins with internal links.
I’ve worked in marketing for long enough to know what “internal linking” means for most SEO/marketing managers and business owners. They will write up a new blog post, insert some links to their landing pages and older blog posts, hit publish and call it a day.
A good start – but not enough.
The only way to make this strategy work is to constantly build new external backlinks to your newly written post. That way, the older posts that you linked to (internally) will get a boost as well. This is a poor long-term strategy because you have to rely on a constant flow of new backlinks to your new content. It’s not only impractical, but it can also get pretty expensive.
The better way to go about internal linking is to the opposite – visit your older blog posts (that already have a good number of external backlinks) and put links in them – to your newly published content.
This strategy is easier to pull off, requires less work and less money spent on building new external backlinks. However, there are a few important rules to keep in mind.
If you want to build some internal links, don’t just link from any older piece of content to a newer piece of content.
The first rule is to only link to pages that you need to rank. Let’s say that you published a new post on the best CRM software and you want to rank for the keyword “CRM software”. This new post now needs a link from your older bits of content. For every new piece of content that you want to rank, find a suitable place in an older article. However, don’t overdo the number of your internal links – but more on that later.
The second part is trickier. You can’t just choose a post from 2015 and assume that just because it’s old, linking from it will make sense. As you probably know, age alone does not guarantee that a certain blog post will perform well.
You need to choose an older post that has a solid number of external links pointing to it. Let’s say that you wrote a post on business apps in 2018 and 30 people linked to it. This is a post that Google considers authoritative because other people liked it. In other words, this is a page that Google considers relevant.
Finding your own articles that have lots of external backlinks is actually quite easy if you use a tool such as Ahrefs (more on that in a minute). You can easily sort your pages and find your top-performing content in terms of backlinks and you now have a great starting point. These posts have lots of value from Google’s point of view, so you will link from them to your newer content to give it an authority boost.
The text that you use when creating a link is called anchor text. This isn’t SEO 101, you’re thinking, but hear me out – your anchor text matters greatly for internal links, just as much as external ones.
Your new post is on CRM software and that’s the keyword you want to rank for on Google. (This is just an example, ranking for the keyword “CRM software” is close to impossible.) is When you place internal links to this post (from your older content), make sure to use your desired anchor text. This way, you’ll send another signal to Google that this is the keyword you want to rank for.
However, don’t use just one anchor text and spam it 100+ times. Diversify it a bit so that search engines don’t think you’re spamming. This is where a keyword research tool such as Ahrefs can come in handy to come up with keyword variations. For example, instead of using “CRM software” all the time, you can use any of the following:
All these keywords have the same meaning and they all have a decent search volume to boot. I didn’t just come up with these variations on my own – these are all keywords with excellent search volume and it took me 3 minutes of research to find them.
Just mix things up so that you don’t over-optimize for one keyword only. This way, the links and traffic coming from them will appear more natural.
Okay, now you know which pages to link to and from and which anchor text to use. The question remains: where in your old posts should you link to your newer content?
In reality, any place is good enough, but you can get strategic with your placement too.
The best place to put links to your newer content is somewhere at the beginning of your old posts. This will make sure that if your visitors do leave the page they’re reading, they will leave to your newer content instead of some other website. As a consequence, this will improve your bounce rate and send another signal to search engines that your website is trustworthy.
Moreover, make sure that every internal link you place is labeled dofollow. You can find out more about the difference between dofollow and nofollow links in this blog post, but the important thing is to keep your internal link structure dofollow.
You’ve probably seen a SaaS homepage or two with a list of important pages in their home page footer. This is not a coincidence – they’re placing internal links to the pages that bring them the most traffic and revenue.
For example, this is what we did at Chanty:
You can see that “Slack alternatives” is one of the most important keywords for this company, which is why we linked to this page from the footer, with this anchor text. Here is another example from Expandi:
Of course, do not overdo this because your homepage footer may end up looking like a wall of text. Prioritize and only link to a handful of your most important pages.
Internal linking is an important on-page SEO activity, just as optimizing your content and doing keyword research. Depending on how much content you publish, we recommend doing a round of internal links every 2-3 months. The more often you do it, the less of it you’ll have to do at once.
Once you do this strategy a few times, you may start overcrowding your older posts with links to your new content – which is what you want to avoid.
Having too many internal links in a blog post is not a good look. It will make the reader think that you’re desperate to keep them on your site and it will make Google think that you’re not linking to authoritative external sources. For an article that’s 2-3,000 words long (which is what we recommend to our clients), do not place more than 10 internal links.
Finally, make sure that the link you place is relevant for the older article. To use the same example, if your older post is on social media management, do not force the keyword “crm software” in it just to link to a new post you wrote. It’s unnatural and out of place and the chances of anyone clicking through are rather slim.
Sure you can. There are even WordPress plugins that do this job for you. When you write a new post, the plugin suggests which older posts to link to and vice versa. However, we do NOT recommend using any tool to automate building internal links.
Would you trust a tool to automate the external links you build to your site? Probably not, since it’s too important of a task to be left to AI. Plus, there are too many factors involved for an app or plugin to make a good choice on its own.
In other words, you’ll have to do it manually for the best results – and these are the tools you will need.
The good news is, two out of three tools you will need are completely free and one will cost you a small amount of money per month. Even better news is, all three are super easy to use.
Ahrefs is a paid SEO/digital marketing tool that can be used for a variety of content marketing tasks. In this case, you’ll need it to check which of your pages have the highest number of external backlinks pointing to them, as well as for keyword research to find the best anchor text. The pricing for Ahrefs starts at $99 per month, which can be a bit too much if you use it just for internal linking. However, it has so many good uses besides this application that it’s a small investment to make compared to the results it can get you.
Google Analytics will tell you which of your articles convert the best. If you haven’t already, set up goals in Analytics for your most important conversions. For example, a conversion from a visitor to a free trial user or from a free trial to a paid user. Once you set this up, you will be able to tell which pages bring the most conversions and revenue. These are the pages that you want to build internal links to.
Google Search Console will tell you the positions of the articles that convert very well – as discovered in Analytics. If your new article on CRM software is ranking okay (let’s say it’s at the bottom of the first page of search results), it could definitely use some help from a good internal linking strategy.
Internal linking is one of the most important on-page activities you can undertake. As you can read above, it’s not a simple matter of placing a link to your new blog inside of an older blog. Make sure you:
Having said that, internal linking can be too much for your brand, especially if you don’t have a strong content marketing team. If you’re looking for a content marketing SaaS partner with a strong record of creating amazing content that rocks Google search results, reach out to us today! We’ll give your SaaS brand the content it needs to get on page 1!
Let us know what you are looking to accomplish.
We’ll give you a clear direction of how to get there.
All consultations are free 🔥