How to use internal links to boost traffic

& my technique for keeping track of them

Internal links are a great way to get traffic to your harder to rank articles, but it’s hard to keep track of them in those early days when you haven’t created all your content yet.

Photo by Michael Soledad on Unsplash

We all know that links are a great way to build your SEO.

It’s also tempting to spend the majority of your time chasing backlinks because they technically add more value.

But if your traffic isn’t self-sustaining (i.e. if you’re having to spend more time promoting than writing, and yes, I’m including Pinterest here) then you can’t afford to waste your time collecting backlinks.

Either put them off for six months or forget about them altogether.

If your content is backlink-worthy, then they’ll happen without any effort on your part at all, bar creating the actual articles.

Why create internal links?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the answer here is obvious — if users click through to more posts, then you have more opportunity to hook them in — get them to click on affiliate links, sell them some crappy course, or even just generate ad revenue, but there’s more to it than that.

Let’s use my niche — house plants — as an example.

Posts such as ‘how to take care of house plants’ are difficult to rank for, and not because the content out there is better than mine (or even accurate), but because high authority sites such as Apartment Therapy will always rank higher than tiny, new sites like mine — despite much of their information being, er, dubious at best.

Ice cubes on orchids anyone?

The only chance I have of getting Google to notice articles with highly competitive keywords is if I get internal clicks to those articles. Pair that with a 00:05:00 dwelling time and Google will start to notice you.

This doesn’t mean these articles will rank highly on Google, but I’ve found that Google will rank newer articles more quickly.

Make sure that your pillar content — those articles that are long, meaty, and extremely high value (and invariably have hyper-competitive keywords) is absolutely spot on.

I don’t care too much about grammar and spelling (as you may have noticed), I mean the scope of the article. Every aspect of the keyword needs to be explored.

How to structure this pillar content

We’re looking for a 4,000–5,000-word post.

10,000-word articles are often a waste of everyone's time.

So, if I were doing a pillar post on watering house plants, I’d include a little bit about all aspects of plant watering— how much water to give, how often, the type of water and so on.

I’d then link to smaller, more niche articles that go into further depth, and link from the smaller article to the bigger article.

For example, I link from my water article to an article specifically on bottom watering. In the bottom watering article, I might mention how important water temperature is, and link to the pillar content. I’d also link to a top watering article. If I didn’t have a top watering article, I’d check out Google and see if it was worth writing one.

How to keep track of your interlinking strategy

If you have an established blog with hundreds of articles, I wouldn’t bother creating the spreadsheet I’m about to suggest — it’d take too long and probably be a waste of time.

However, if you do wish you’d added more links, then I would suggest taking five minutes every day to add internal links to one article. Start from the first and work up to the most recent.

I do have a great interlinking trick that I’ll come to later that’s an almost instant way to add internal links to every page.

Create an internal link spreadsheet

To be perfectly honest I don’t create a spreadsheet — I write my links by hand:

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When I start a new website, I make a list of 30 articles. As I write the articles, I make a note of which future articles I’m going to link to.

Obviously a spreadsheet is a far more professional approach, but I prefer to handwrite almost everything.

I would advise you to make a spreadsheet (I’m going to, I’ve just decided) because you can add new article ideas and links as soon as you think of them, and crucially, have a column for posts the article links to, and a column for articles that link to the post.

That would be a great way to identify any orphaned articles, which in turn is a fantastic way to look for gaps in your content.

Make sure you have a column for both the article title AND the URL. Being able to link directly from the spreadsheet to the post makes the whole thing infinitely more user friendly.

An easy trick to instantly encourage more interlinking

I highly recommend the ‘recent posts with thumbnail widget’ plugin. I put it in my sidebar, and adjust the settings so that it displays 30 posts in my sidebar.

I recommend that you check the ‘exclude current post’ box and the ‘show posts in a random order’ box.

There a dozen or more ways to configure it, but for reference, I have the number of posts to show set at 30, the first three boxes checked, and the ‘show thumbnail’ box checked. Everything else I left as it was.

Have a post gallery

If I’m honest, I don’t have a lot of clicks to my post gallery, but I love the opportunity to see all the sites posts on one page, so I have one. I use the Content Views plugin and host it on its own page that appears in the menu at the top.

Final thoughts on internal linking

Internal links can be a great way to get search engines to notice your site, especially if you’re a little fish in a big niche.

Whilst your strategy doesn’t need to be particularly, er, strategic, it’s important that you do make sure to add internal links to your posts — even if you don’t go back and update your old posts, make sure to add a couple of links to that older content as you write more articles.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments, and if you’re a writer that hates social media, has a very limited budget, and is struggling to get traffic to their blog, check out my website Stone Cold Content.

It’s still in the early stages — only a few posts — but I promise that the advice is tried and tested and, more importantly, there’s no email signup, no course to sell, and no pop-ups.

Writer, blogger. Rabbit parent to one. Plant parent to many. Occasional runner, jigsaw puzzle enthusiast.

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