I want you to build more internal links.
Because I want your entire website, to succeed and for you to look back and say, “Thanks, Terry from SerpFocus, you really helped my business.” And I know that for your website to reach its prime (and for me to get my sweet accolades), you’ll need to build internal links.
That’s why I made this guide. WordPress is the most commonly used platform for building websites, and I want to make it as easy as possible for you to start building internal and external links now for your site.
This guide will teach you exactly how to build links—and why you should do it. I’ll also offer some tips to help you understand where and when you should include links to other websites, and what you should think about when linking between pages.
Let’s get linking!
Understanding Internal Links
Internal links are links from pages on your domain to other pages on your same domain. They’re essential for navigation—today, most headers on web pages are made up almost entirely of links to different inbound internal links between pages.
Aside from their role in navigation, internal links serve an important purpose in SEO. By using the right internal links, in the right posts and pages and circumstances, you can give Google and other search engines context about your website's content and other posts and pages.
You’ll also keep people on your site for longer.
In short, internal links help you climb the ranks.
Before I get into teaching you how to add internal links to your WordPress site, you need to know how to audit your internal links, when to set internal links and where to use internal links.
Here’s a simple rule: Every page on your own site that has unique content should add a link to another page of existing content on your site.
This rule applies to blogs, product pages, your homepage—almost everything. Exceptions to the link rule are things like login pages and carts—but even these pages will sometimes include internal links.
Also, you should link to other pages and internal pages anytime the page you’re linking to is relevant to the content you’re writing. Most of my pages have several internal links.
You’ll also want to avoid overlinking—creating too many links from one page to another. My rule is pretty user focused - only link when it makes sense to link and will provide value to the reader.
Choosing the Right Anchor Text
The next thing I want to cover before diving into the how-to is anchor text.
This is important.
Anchor text is the text that you choose for your links. You want your anchor text to be descriptive so that users (and search engines) know what page they’re going to land on. There are a few different types of anchor text, but for now, I’ll focus on two: Exact match and partial match.
Search engines use anchor text (among a number of other factors) to determine what keywords a page should rank for.
Exact match anchor text means you use the keyword you want to rank for as your anchor text. Partial match anchor text means you’ll use part of the keyword you want to rank for as your anchor text, along with a few other relevant words.
I’ve actually written a comprehensive guide to anchor text that I highly recommend you read. The text I used for that link (comprehensive guide to anchor text) is a great example of partial match anchor text—something you’ll learn more about in the guide itself!
Next, I’m going to dive into how you’ll add internal links using WordPress editors, but before I do, I want to give you one last tip on anchor texts. You don’t want to overuse the same terms for anchor text linking to a particular page. You also want to avoid overusing the same types of anchor text. Mix exact match, partial match, and even the occasional naked (the URL as text) anchor text.
Adding Internal Links Using the Block Editor
The easiest way to add an internal link to your WordPress site is by using the standard WordPress editor, known as the block editor. Here’s a simple, step-by-step guide:
- Go to the post you want to build an outbound internal link from. Find the page you want the internal link to point to, then find the anchor text you want to use. Highlight that anchor text; a pop-up box will appear. Click the link button (highlighted in red below)
- Type the URL that you want the outbound internal link to point to (link suggestions will pop up as you type)—or better yet, copy-paste it. Click the Link Settings button (highlighted in blue below) to change the settings of your link. (There may be more options in your settings than you’ll see in the image below)
- Click “Apply”, and your link will be ready to go!
My first tip is to make sure your anchor text doesn’t include any extra spaces or punctuation. Often, people will accidentally include junk characters when they highlight a piece of text to use as anchor text. This looks bad, both to users and search engines. Be careful!
The second tip is to use the settings to your advantage. I generally allow my internal links to open in the same tab, while I require external links to open in a new tab. This increases the amount of time users are likely to spend on your site.
The settings (especially the nofollow feature) can also help you with link sculpting. You’ll rarely ever use nofollow for your internal links, but it comes up sometimes.
Know your internal link settings, and know your site—your victory will be assured (Sun Tzu, maybe).
Adding Internal Links Using the Classic Editor
Using the Classic Editor to add links is a lot like using the Block Editor. Here’s the simple, three step guide:
- Go to the post you want to build an outbound internal link from. Find the page you want the internal link to point to, then find the anchor text you want to use. Highlight that anchor text. Go to the toolbar, and click the link button (highlighted in yellow below).
- A pop-up box will appear. Type the URL that you want the outbound internal link to point to—or better yet, copy-paste it. Click the Link Settings button (the gear) to change the settings of your link.
- Click the blue “Enter” arrow, and you’re good to go!
My tips and tricks here are the same as they were for the block editor: Make sure you’re only highlighting the relevant anchor text in most links (avoid junk characters), and use the settings to get the most out of your outbound, internal links.
Adding Internal Links Using Third-Party Builders
Most people don’t build sites using the Classic Editor—truth be told, most people don’t even use the Block Editor!
Modern web design has been simplified with a number of themes and third-party builders. I can’t possibly cover how to add internal links with every builder, but I will cover three of the most popular: Elementor, Divi, and Beaver Builder.
Elementor is among the most popular WordPress site builders. Here’s how to add anchor text using Elementor:
- Go to the page you want to add anchor text to then select “Edit with Elementor”
- Highlight the text you want to use as anchor text. A pop-up will appear. Click the link button in the popup (highlighted in red below).
- Type in or paste the URL you want to link to in the pop-up box that appears. Press Enter (or click the button highlighted below), and your link is good to go!
- Remember to use the “Update” button once you’re done adding internal links (or making any other changes to your page!)
Divi may be the most popular WordPress builder/theme. It’s got an elegant little sandbox Divi Builder you can play around in—I recommend trying it to learn how to build links using Divi! That’s what I’ll be using in the step-by-step examples you’re about to read through.
- Highlight the text you want to edit. A pop-up will appear. Click the link button that appears (highlighted in red below).
- A URL popup will appear. Paste the internal page you’re linking to into the URL box, then hit Enter.
It’s as simple as that! There’s an alternative, too. You can instead click the “Settings” gear of a module to open an editor—you can then add links with that editor in much the same way.
- The module settings (in red)
- The method to add links using the module editor (highlight your text, click the link icon, then fill in the form. Just be sure to click the green checkmark once you’re done editing!)
Like Divi, Beaver Builder has a super handy page builder demo you can use when you’re experimenting with adding internal links using their plugin. Using it to add links is super simple:
- Click the block of text you want to edit. A pop-up editor will appear on the left-hand side.
- Highlight text, either directly in the paragraph you’re editing or in the text editor (I prefer using the text editor because the save button is right there). A pop-up will come up so you can input the URL and change settings.
- Paste your URL, or play around with the settings. You can use the settings to open the link in a new tab (something I recommend against for most internal links)How do I add internal links in WordPress using the Gutenberg editor?Open the Gutenberg editor: Log in to your WordPress website and navigate to the post or page you want to add an internal link to. Click on the "Edit" button to open the Gutenberg editor.
- Highlight the text you want to link: Select the text you want to link by clicking and dragging your cursor over it. You can also place your cursor where you want the link to start and select the "Link" icon in the toolbar.
- Click on the link icon: Once you have selected the text, click on the "Link" icon in the toolbar. This will open the link options.
- Select the page or post you want to link to: In the link options, you can choose to link to a page or post within your WordPress site. You can either search for the page or post by typing its title or select it from the list of recently edited content.
- Customize the link: Once you have selected the page or post you want to link to, you can customize the link by changing the text that appears in the link or adding a title attribute. You can also choose whether the link should open in a new tab or window by selecting the appropriate option.
- Save your changes: Click on the "Apply" button to save your changes and add the internal link to your content.
- Test your link: After adding your internal link, it's important to test it to ensure it's working correctly. Click on the link to make sure it takes you to the correct page or post within your WordPress site.
That's it! With these steps, you can add internal links in WordPress using the Gutenberg editor.
Mistakes to avoid when using third-party builders
We’ve already discussed the most common mistake when adding internal links—highlight junk characters and including them in your anchor text.
There’s another extremely common mistake for people using 3rd-party WordPress site editors—forgetting to hit the update or save button. When you don’t save your progress, you lose it—it’s like a video game, but instead of having to retry a level, you might end up hamstringing your SEO efforts.
Now that we’ve covered how to build internal links in the ways that 99.9% of our readers will be using WordPress, we can carry on to my personal favorite way to build internal links—Link Whisper.
Automated Internal Link Building With Link Whisper
Link Whisper is an automated internal link builder; it offers a number of other features, too, including internal link audits and link suggestions that appear as you write posts and create links in WordPress.
I’ve reviewed Link Whisper; when you read the review, you’ll see that there’s a lot I love about the plugin and that I use it for most of my high-in-content sites. There are, however, a few flaws with the program.
Some of the link suggestions offered by Link Whisper can be irrelevant, and you may encounter some bugs with the automated link builder.
Despite these flaws, the speed at which Link Whisper enables you to build internal links is unmatched. It’s one of my top WordPress plugins, and I highly recommend giving it a try.
Best Practices for Internal Linking in WordPress
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article—you know now the power of internal links, how to choose great anchor text, and how to add internal links on WordPress using almost every method known to man.
I want to close off this blog post by offering you some tips on how to improve your internal linking strategy.
My first tip is to choose a structure for your internal links. In SEO, we typically talk about two ways of structuring interlinked content: Content silos and content clusters.
With content silos, every other page in the silo links to another page in the silo, as well as to the “money” page—the page of the silo that has the highest conversion rate. All of the content within a silo should be topically linked to that money page.
With content clusters, every piece of content is linked back to a money page that’s topically related—much like silos—but you can add a link to a relevant content, in a different cluster when appropriate.
Whether or not you opt for either of the two most popular SEO-based internal linking structures, you should always consider why you’re using internal links when linking from a page to another page. Link juice flows through these internal links, and you’ll be passing equity from one page to another via links.
Another important consideration is how shallow your website’s structure is. Sites with a shallow structure—one where every page can be reached from the homepage within three links—are generally best. The deeper the structure, the harder it is for search engines to crawl your site.
In short, think about how you’re passing link juice and keep a shallow structure. Follow those tips and the tips I laid out in the section above, and you’ll be just fine. Want more tips on internal linking? Keep reading my blog—you’ll find out about breadcrumb navigation, link sculpting, and way more.
Now you know why you should build internal links in WordPress, how you can do it, and what to keep in mind while building internal links.
I highly encourage you to start building links in wordpress today—if you’ve already got a lot of content, but little of it is linked, I’d recommend using the free plugin, Link Whisper. I’ve personally saved hundreds of hours with the free version of the plugin.
Even if you go the manual route, you’ll find that a strong internal linking strategy pays dividends, keeping users on your site, improving conversion rates, and boosting your rank.
Happy linking! Have any questions? Link up with me in the comments!