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Internal Linking is a Sure-fire White Hat Hack and Complete Control over it

Sadly, people think WordPress internal linking is just linking other articles. But that’s far from truth.

Not optimizing links then you’re missing the ranking boost. Or over-optimizing (building internal links at the same anchor or redirecting it too many times) – Black Hat. Putting your website’s ranking in jeopardy.

In this guide, I’ll touch every aspect of internal links:

  • Helpful Anchors
  • Improved navigation
  • Internal Link Audit via free tools
  • Increasing PageRank to money pages
  • Eliminating Generic anchors
  • Removing redirect chains

Let’s dive in!

WordPress Internal Linking Featured Image


Content Snap

What are internal links in WordPress

Internal Linking is a part of on-page SEO strategy. Imagine you’ve Blog post A and B on the WP site. Now you link post A to post B via anchor text or image, that linking is called internal linking. So it’s building links, but here links are coming from the same website.

The HTML code looks like:

<p> any text inside the para <a href “https://anydomain.com/link-from-same-site/” > anchor text on which link is embedded < /a>


FYI: Deep Internal Linking – It’s a special case of internal linking, where we interlink any page except the Home Page.

Fun Fact – Internal Linking via text > linking via Image.

Because Google says, with text they’ve a larger understanding of link’s context via anchor, text surrounding it, etc. While with image they rely on Alt tags for the context. Before I begin, let’s understand PageRank Transfer. And How it’s connected with internal linking.


PageRank Transfer & Internal Linking

It’s one of the oldest ranking factors of Google. PageRank (also known as link juices) defines: Google assigns page authority derived from backlinks, age, author, etc. And hence, ranks the content.

Gary tweet on PageRank

Now with time, some of your web pages will gain more backlinks than others. And more links = more PageRank.

Internal linking is a quick SEO win to transfer PageRank from more important SEO pages to lesser ones.

SEO Hack – if you’re ranking on Page 2… link that article with more important pages, and you’ll quickly find content on TOP 5 spots.

How to Build Internal Links 2021 – The Good

Contextual Links

A contextual link is a clickable text (usually the keywords) found within the written content of your webpage.

Based on the purpose, there’re 2 types of contextual links.

  • One you add just to transfer PageRank. (More on this later)
  • Other you want readers to actually click and view the page.

Both are standard-acceptable practices.

Interestingly, 2nd link type would fetch more SEO juices. Theory proposed by Moz, stating “Users clicking those links, search engines would pass more link juices. Because search engines work around User Experiences.”

I too was blown away after knowing this notion. 🤯

Best Practices for the 2nd link type

  1. Laser-focused to the main topic – Reader is likely to read alike content.
  2. Placing Above-the-fold or At the end to give more exposure.
  3. CTA on the links – to entice readers to click the link!

Relevant Anchor

Anchor that tells users what they can expect to learn by clicking that link.

In all types of interlinks, Anchor should NOT be deceptive to users. Adding up JohnMu says, “Anchor Text is the ‘primary information’ Google uses to understand the context of the link”.

JohnMu tweet on anchor text

Meaning – Crawler sees the Anchor text to decide the nature of the link.

Hence, embedding link at your preferred anchor text (known as money keyword) will make your content push higher for those keywords.

Relevant Anchors are divided into 4 types:

1. Exact Match = Anchor having your primary keyword.

E.g., If I’d have a service page, my exact match would be SEO Copywriter

Fun Fact – When Primary Keyword has commercial intent, then it’s also called Money Keyword.

2. Phrase Match = Exact Match + Modifier

E.g., SEO Copywriter to hire

3. Broad Match = Having a larger search volume. And relevant to the Exact match keyword.

E.g., Copywriter

4. Semantic Anchor = Having semantic relevancy with the exact match

E.g., SEO blog writer for a long-form copy



A small clickable-text path, tells the user where he is currently and how to get back to the home page.

It’s in several types, but commonly used – Hierarchy-based breadcrumb.

{yaha par image}

yep! No Degree Learn too uses Hierarchy-based breadcrumb

Breadcrumbs Impacting SEO

  1. Telling Google the site structure, one more time.
  2. Helping users to navigate across the website (prime benefit).
  3. Reducing the bounce rate because it acts as a piece of engagement.
  4. The Link attached is on the keyword-rich anchor. Completely White Hat.

How to enable Breadcrumbs?

You need a free SEO Writing tool like Yoast Plugin.

To enable breadcrumbs, follow this tutorial.


Jump to Links

Also called text-to-links.

Jump to links

Jump to Links impacting SEO

  • Helps users to navigate across the webpage. Thereby, improving the session duration.
  • Hack discovered by Valentin, where we can see different parts of the page on Google Search Console via Jump to links. Meaning crawlers too use these links to navigate across the webpage.
  • Offers engagement and hence, decreasing the bounce rate.
  • Appear in the SERPs.
site links on SERPs

To implementEasy Table of Content WordPress Plugin

Interlinking via Sitewide Links

Links coming from those parts of the webpage which are consistent throughout the website (E.g., Header, Footer, Sidebar). Also, known as navigational links.

JohnMu gave his final words, “Generally speaking, sitewide links can be fine. That’s not something that a link is across the whole website considered bad.  I wouldn’t automatically treat those links as being problematic.”

Showing Related Posts

Related posts sitewide links

This can be easily set up by using categories. Like, In my website: SEO, Design, and Writing.

Your WordPress Theme (in my case Hestia) would place blogs belonging to the same category on Side widget or End of the Post.

Showing Best or Recent Posts

Likewise the category posts, but here your most read posts or recent posts appear.

You can show them on End of the Post or Side widget or Footer.

In my case, it’s footer.

footer sitewide links

Fun Fact – Since, these links changes with time… so they’re called dynamic internal links.

Recommended Tools or Start Here in the Header

This is a standard strategy among affiliate marketers

header internal link

Or content-heavy sites

Pro Blogger header

Done to aid new visitor to start with or provide tools recommendations.

SEO Impact?

Blog interlinked on the header will make the content closer to the Home Page (which generally has the Highest Page Authority). This results in more PageRank flowing to that blog.

JohnMu confirmed it on Office Hours by saying, “If you’ve a page you want to rank for, put it on Home Page. People can find it fairly quickly. And search engines understand that this is something they should focus on as well.”

Note — Google gives little link weight to the sitewide link. Still if you’re like me, you won’t miss this shortcut. Moreover, providing good user navigation is a webmaster’s job, and sitewide links help you with that.

Pro SEO Tip — Header > Footer > Sidebar (order of PageRank Transfer)

Fun Fact — You must have noticed Product Pages in the Header and Privacy Policy in the Footer… because Header has more link juice than the Footer.


Internal Links to open in new tab or same tab?

This question I got from a Facebook group.

And it does make sense.

Firstly, both choices have benefits:

Link in New Tab – Keep the audience stay longer in the single tab on desktop. Hence, increasing the session duration. Also, makes it easier to browse the content.

Link in Same Tab – Easier to switch content back-and-forth on mobile. Therefore, eases to navigate across your site.

It’s not related to SEO. But a Good webmaster goes beyond it, and cares for the user experience. ❤

Answer to this million-dollar question is… “depends”. But wait! I’ve a solution for you to overcome this dilemma.


Active on Instagram? Yes, then use poll sticker!

Active on LinkedIn? Yes, then publish a poll!

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Heck, don’t want to do that..

Interpret Google Analytics Data

Google Analytics >> Audience >> Demographics >> Overview >> Time Period 1-2 years

In marketing, audience is divided into 5 segments:

  • Gen Z: 6-21 years old
  • Gen Y1: 22-29 years old
  • Gen Y2: 30-37 years old
  • Gen X: 41-56 years old
  • Baby Boomers: 57-75 years old

Now understand, the only reason people want links to open in same tab is accessibility while on mobile.

Here, Gen Z and Gen Y1 are comfortable switching tabs on Phone. But not the case with Gen Y2 and onwards.

Google Analytics age group

You see, 76.37% viewers are Phone-pro users. Hence, linking content in new tab makes sense. 🙂

Fair suggestion – Whatever you choose, be consistent!

Fun Fact – Gen Y1 + Gen Y2 = Millennials

Performing Internal Linking audit

I could’ve suggested SEMRush or Ahrefs or Majestic like others did and left my affiliate link to earn free cash.

But honestly, you don’t need these tools.

Audit 1 – check internal linking and Beefing it

I’ll show via Google Search Console (GSC), It’s easy. 😊

Google Search Console >> Links >> Top Interlinked Pages sorted most to least

From there, check the lower ones

Google search console internal link audit

Looks like this page needs more links, hm!

Now, Google Search >> site:anydomain.com + relevant phrases -inurl:anydomain.com/concerned-page/

From this, you’ll get relevant pages to choose.

Now Go to those pages >> CTRL + F >> type the relevant anchor >> interlink it 😉

This linking strategy works best to jump your article from Page 2 to TOP 5 spots.

Audit 2 – Removing the Broken links

Having no broken links is a sign of a healthy site. And this helps in improving the website’s Domain Authority, says Quick Sprout.

Use Broken Link Check Tool (it’s free for less than 3000 pages).

Enter the Website URL >> Press Find Broken Links >> Wait for 5-6 minutes >> Download the links in excel.

{yaha par image}

Audit 3 – Leaving No Orphaned Pages

Pages having no internal links are called orphaned pages. Making it tough for the crawler to penetrate that page. Thereby, making it difficult to index that page.

Image Source – Moz

In one line – There should not be any orphaned pages.

For blog websites, most important internal links are blog links. Focus the efforts auditing that.

Scaringly, “Top 10 SEO Blogs” was missing. And it’s bad 🙁

I quickly used the Audit 1 technique to find relevant anchors… started beefing it with internal links.

Once done, just wait… Google bot will crawl my site, identify those internal links. And GSC would reflect the same.

Link the Canonical version

Canonical Page is the most important version of your page. And naturally, you want Google to consider it important.

Internal Linking canonical version would signal Google that this is your important page.

Two most common cases:

Trailing Slash

anydomain.com/slug 🙅🏻‍♂️

anydomain.com/slug/ 👨🏻‍🏫

HTTPS version

http.anydomain.com/slug/ 🙅🏻‍♂️

https.anydomain.com/slug/ 👨🏻‍🏫

Note – Take this advice seriously. Because if showed laziness on linking, Google can ignore your canonical version.

Link Category Pages

Category pages are made for the user to access the alike content without switching tabs.

Internal linking it, you’re making it easier for the user to navigate them, and encouraging to stay longer on your site. Hence, bringing positive SEO.

Linking on styled Anchor

Google says that the bot gives more weights to the bold and italics text because styling a word denotes “emphasis”. Linking on that styled anchor, would mark the link important and passes higher PageRank.

internal links on styled anchor

Side Note – The effect of styling on PageRank is very tiny. Linking it purposely on bold anchor makes no sense. Readability is your first priority.


The BadNot Black Hat disturbing the User Experience.

Too Many Links, then How many internal links is too many in a blog Post

Matt Cutts advised to keep total links (internal + external) under 100. Going beyond, implying overwhelming your reader.

But the downside, Matt answered this on 9th March 2009

In 2021, search engines are more powerful and hence, can index to a larger number of links.

Google’s Official Webmaster Guidelines says, “Limit the number of links on a page to a reasonable number (a “few thousand” at most).” In other words, can have 2000 links. Now that’s HUGE!!

But don’t go overboard, too much linking may dilute the PageRank.

To count internal links, free tool: Link Counter by Search Engine Reports

Enter the URL >> Will count all the links (including site wide and external links) & shows you follow/no-follow links.

According to Neil Patel, “You can have 4 to 5 internal links for a content less than 1500 words” Sweet!

Generic Anchors like Read More or Click Here

They offer no context for the link embedded, leaving the user in a dark circle what he’ll expect from that link.

Linking Page A within Page A

In earlier days, done to restrict the PageRank flow. It’s now obsolete because bots are a lot smarter, reckons a page link within itself is unimportant.

Adding up, those useless links distort the user experience. Hence, making it a practice to avoid.

Linking the article within itself

Link stuffed passage

This quick SEO win greed and 5 min. to spend, results in this:

Making the content look spooky and cheap, and have readability issues. Vetting trust from the user, and bounces from that page in a flash.

Solution – Build internal links once you completed the post. In this way, you’ve a better chance to spread links across the post. And the anchor flow would be more natural.

Naked Links

Links having anchor text the link itself.

E.g., anydomain.com/this-is-a-naked-link

JohnMu said in the Office Hours, “with naked links, system takes into link into the account. But can’t consider that anchor, hence the bot will not derive any information from the anchor.”

Avoid Naked Anchors whenever possible. When reading content, it’s disruptive as users are inclined to reading a text than reading a URL.

By Neil Patel


Duplicate Link Title Attributes

Firstly, What Is Link Attribute?

That info box which appears when you hover over the link

<a href = anydomain.com title = “link title” > anchor text <\a>

It’s added for:

1. Accessibility purposes.

2. Webmasters can provide additional info about the link to search engines. Info appears in a box when you hover over the link.

Now, if you’re duplicating the attribute, i.e., providing the same info as given in the anchor (in the hope to get additional benefits), you’re hampering the accessibility.  And that’s not advisable.

Furthermore, after the Penguin Update… Google don’t use title attributes. Hence, adding them… unnecessary labor. That’s why I don’t add them on my site. I’d suggest you the same.

Internal linking to a blocked page

This portion I covered on 50 SEO queries, but for the sake of it.. I repeat…

No-indexing tells crawlers which page to not crawl, and hence, not rank. E.g., WP admin page.

Suppose, you’ve Blog A and you’ve interlinked it with other blogs… standard SEO stuff. But now you’ve no-indexed the Blog A. Telling crawlers not to index, but those interlinks telling to index. Therefore, such conflicting signals creates a poor experience for crawlers… bad for SEO.

Embedded using Java Scripts

Bots have a love-hate relation with JS. Although, they’re getting smarter, yet it’s known that Google takes time to crawl the content on JS.

Hence, advisable not to embed links via Java applets. In such cases, Internal Link might be ignored by the bot. Adding up, Gary, Sr. Developer at Google, stated, “Google can crawl it, but not sure with other search engines.”

No-follow internal links

Grey Hat people do it because they want to push PageRank on one page disproportionately (known as PageRank Sculpting).


Suppose you’ve Page A and Page B (blogs), and Page C (Sales Page) interlinked in Page D. Internal Link distribute PageRank of D into A, B, and C equally. But making links A and B no-follow… you’re intruding Page C with more juices, unethically.

It is for this reason, JohnMu said, “no-follow tags for internal links is not as directive as no-follow tag for backlinks. Meaning internal links having no-follow tag tells Google, not to focus on these links, still the Bot may crawl them.

How to fix internal no-follow links in WordPress

For this, use Ahrefs Webmaster Tools

Verify your site (sign in from the email you use for accessing Google search console) >> Add your site as a project >> Site explorer >> Internal links report >> Nofollow.

Check all important links are follow links.

A Follow Up Question!

Should we internal link to Contact Us, About Us, or Privacy Policy Page

Doubt comes in because Interlinking makes the page appear important in-front of Google’s eyes. That’s why some SEO gurus (even Neil Patel too) advised not to interlink Contact Us, etc. such pages. 😥

Neil Patel internal linking

But it’s far from truth!

We have a lot of practice with crawling and indexing websites. And it’s totally normal for lots of sites to have a contact us page, or an about us page or even terms of service page as being one of the pages that has the most internal links. That doesn’t mean for us that this is the most important page on the website.

JohnMu in-office hours

Adding up, once you grew traffic, it’s industry practice (known as Conversion Rate Optimization) to convert into paying leads. For this, Contact Us Page offers an easier path for readers to approach you for services.

PS – Neil & Brian are the first SEO experts from whom I learned this skill. I included both of them in my Top 10 SEO blogs to learn. You see, it’s nothing against anyone. Peace. ✌🏻


Repeatedly interlinking the same web page

John Mu tweet on repeating a link

From John’s reply repeating same links won’t act as spammy. Sometimes it makes sense because that link is a money page and you want people to click on it.

But it’s to be noted, Google bot accounts only 1st anchor. Ignoring the second anchor completely. But humans don’t. Repeating same internal links can act fishy for users. If that link is not necessary to repeat, prohibit it. 😊

Hiding links via button

This is a common grey hat technique. Webmasters hide the link via JavaScript inside the button of submission-required form (e.g., contact us form or survey form).

The idea behind… Bot can’t submit the form, hence won’t press the button… link becomes invisible to search engines. And now it’s invisible, Google won’t pass PageRank to that link. Hence, preserving the juices.

{yaha par image}

Hiding an unimportant link is outdated. Because We’ve just discussed, Google understands which page is important and not. Hence, you don’t have to make your hands dirty for it.


The Ugly

Black Hat. Black Hat. Black Hat.

Poisonous Anchor Text

It’s so Ugly, 3.1% sites were penalized because of poisonous Anchors.

‘Repeated exact match anchors’ (EMA) used for linking (be it internal or external) makes the anchor poisonous.

How to avoid anchor over-optimization?

Ahrefs suggested EMA < 5-10%

Mix it with a phrase match and semantic match. By that, you’ve more natural anchor distribution.

Invisible Anchor

It’s an old spam technique where Webmaster can make:

  • White color text on a white background
  • Font size almost zero
  • Using comment tag, etc.

to make it invisible. They do it to make content optimized for search engines, hence to rank better in SERPs.

Linking any content on that hidden anchor will trigger spam.

After the Panda Update, Google takes manual action to stop this webspam. And this may lead to de-index your entire website. Scary!

Redirect Chains

When Page A redirected (301) multiple times to reach the final destination is called Redirect Chain.

Chains are Really bad for SEO because:

And How they’re created?

Due to site migration

Due to Laziness – Not auditing the redirects monthly

I’ve a solution to audit those links: Screaming Frog (free for 500 pages).

Anchor Rich footer links

John further suggests, “The one problematic thing is, if you have long anchor text for all of the individual links and that looks like you’re just keyword stuffing…. Then is that we say, ‘oh, these are just keyword stuffed keywords’, we will just ignore them completely.

Meaning – Google won’t penalize your site, but doing this… won’t give you any benefits.

Solution – John recommends, “I’d track to see how these links are actually used.”

Next Question: How many footer links are too many?

John shares….

“20 footer links would be on the high side; I’d recommend 10 footer links.” (It’s an estimate, not the absolute number).

Why are internal links important for SEO

Internal Linking is important for both Technical & On-page SEO:

PageRank Transfer

Over time, some pages in your website build more backlinks than others. Hence, collecting higher PageRank.

Via internal links, you can distribute that PageRank to different pages. Hence, beefing your page with link juice.

Image source – Ahrefs

Imagine it as… Tank filling small buckets via running taps

Creating a meaningful site architecture

This is the most important from Google’s perspective. Easier navigation to all your important pages is called meaningful site structure. And internal linking plays its part.

Quantitatively speaking ‘user should find all the pages within 3 clicks’.

Image source – Backlinko

Crawls Content Quicker

Crawling happens when Google Spider finds your content on the web. For this, spider first crawls all the links are pre-crawled pages. And in that journey, crawls links discovered on those pages.

Building internal links improve the crawl efficiency.

Anchor Optimization

Helping your content rank quicker for those phrases.

Marks Pages as Important

Webmaster internal linking pages… marks it important. As deliberately wants Google to view these links. 

This helps in creating an information-hierarchy.

Semantic SEO: Creating Topic Clusters

When you link topically (semantically) relevant pages, the bot will crawl those pages. And when it sees lots of similar topic content, Google will consider you an expert for that niche. Building topical authority, bringing +ve SEO juices. Sometimes, also called vertical siloing.

Example, if you’re sharing a 25 Copywriting Tips blog, you can interlink a copywriting book review in that blog. Since, both the topics are semantically relevant.

SEO Importance – After the Panda & E-A-T update, Google relies on authority & the website covering different aspects of a topic then just matching keyword phrases, says Bruce Clay.

Outbound links improve rankings

After the Hilltop update 2003, Google wants pages to act as a hub. In other words, a collection of outbound links (internal + external links).

That’s one of the reasons, I link to many articles

Increases Website Traffic

Since Internal Linking keeps the user in the loop… adding page views/session and hence, increasing the website traffic. This also hikes session duration (roughly called dwell time)

Reduces Bounce Rate

Firstly, explaining the common SEO doubt, what bounce rate is:

From interlinking, user can interact with the content. Therefore, decreasing the bounce rates.

Internal Links VS Backlinks

Internal LinksBacklinks
Page A linked in Page B, and both web pages are from the same site.Page A linked in Page B of different websites. We say, Page B gave backlink to Page A.
Helps user and crawler to find your content.Helps to build authority.
Brings Direct trafficBrings Referral Traffic
Should be a follow linkCan be follow/no-follow, depends on the will of the webmaster
Quick SEO win strategyLong-term SEO strategy
Helps in building website networkHelps in building business network
You’re talking about your own content.Others are talking about your content
Weaker correlation with rankings.Strongest correlation with rankings, says Backlinko.

And few similarities too:

  • Both ease spider to crawl your webpages
  • Both passes PageRank, bringing positive SEO



Internal links are like bureaucracy.

Some may take it for granted, not acknowledging its powers. And then the ignored system corrupts the country’s growth. (Internal link-building ignored… posts stuck forever at Page 2 or undistributed traffic)

And those who keep bureaucracy at check, reap fruits of a clean (better site navigation) and swift governance (quicker ranks).

In this guide we discussed:

  • Underarm ways to build internal links on WordPress
  • Using contextual anchors guiding users and bots
  • Beefing internal links to enhance PageRank
  • Removing dead links improving site health
  • How not to carried away & overdoing it
  • Internal link audit to rectify mistakes
  • Internal link: New tab or same tab
  • Benefits of internal linking.

If you’re looking to optimize Internal Links, drop me a mail sharing your concern in 2-3 lines —arpit.agarwal1897@gmail.com Or you can fill this contact form. [Either way, I’d connect with you instantly]

Want to discuss around this — Connect on LinkedIn or DM me on Instagram.



Q1. Internal Links: do-follow Vs no-follow?

When you’re embedding links.. you always have a choice to make it do-follow or no-follow.
Matt Cutts says, “it’s a complete waste of a time. Nofollow tag will constraint the PageRank to flow to all the links embedded in the page naturally. And that’s why I’ll never no-follow internal link.” This follow-link rule applies to About Us, Privacy Policy, ToU, and login page too.

Q2. What is the impact on SEO for Links in the boilerplate Content?

Google mostly ignore boiler-plate links. And if they do, they give ‘very little weight’ than contextual links.

The Good, Bad, & Ugly WordPress Internal Linking Guide (2021)
Article Name
The Good, Bad, & Ugly WordPress Internal Linking Guide (2021)
14 Best strategies to build internal links correctly and boost rankings. Moreover, Audit to remove 15 Bad interlinks damaging SEO and user experience.
Publisher Name
No Degree Learn
Publisher Logo
Categories: SEO

Arpit Agarwal

Arpit Agarwal is an Engineer turned SEO Copywriter. Aspires to make accurate content accessible to the readers in a digestible format. Apart from creating marketing content at No Degree Learn, Arpit helps SMBs with magnetic long-form copy, Persuasive Fb Ads, and Actionable SEO Audit. Drop your message at arpit.agarwal1897@gmail.com OR connect with him on LinkedIn.