As an SEO analyst and content creator, I often get asked – what‘s the best way to build internal links effectively?
After researching this topic extensively and testing dozens of plugins over the years, I‘m excited to share my knowledge on the best practices for internal link building.
In this comprehensive 3500+ word guide, we‘ll cover everything you need to know about leveraging internal links for SEO rankings, from fundamentals to WordPress plugins and strategies.
So whether you‘re an SEO expert or just getting started, you‘ll learn the insider tips and tools to build an optimized internal linking structure on your WordPress site.
Let‘s dive in!
Internal Link Building 101: What Are Internal Links and Why You Need Them
First, what exactly are internal links?
Internal links are hyperlinks that connect various pages within the same website or domain. Some examples:
- A blog post linking to a related blog in the same site
- Product pages linking to main category or homepages
- Links in menus or navigation linking internally
In essence, any link between two pages on the same domain is an internal link.
But why are internal links so crucial for SEO? There are a few key reasons:
1. Passes authority and relevance
Internal links allow you to transfer "link equity" from pages with high authority and relevance to pass these signals to other related pages.
For example, a high-ranking blog can link to a key product page to pass authority and topical relevance to help it rank better.
2. Improves structure and crawlability
The interconnections through internal links give search bots a site map to efficiently crawl and index new content.
3. Creates user signals
As real visitors click on internal links, this generates user engagement signals that influence search rankings.
4. Enhances user experience
Thoughtful internal linking improves navigation and helps users find related content easily, keeping them engaged.
Let‘s analyze the value of internal links for SEO and user experience in more detail.
Internal Link Building for SEO: Link Equity Distribution
One of the biggest benefits of internal links is the ability to control how "link equity" flows across your site pages.
Link equity refers to the authority and relevance passed from one page to another via a hyperlink.
By strategically linking important and high-value pages together internally, you can dictate which pages get the biggest SEO boost from internal link equity distribution.
According to a study by Searchmetrics, ranking signals passed through internal links actually have more SEO influence than external backlinks in most cases.
|Impact on Rankings
|Internal Link Signals
|External Backlink Signals
This highlights why thoughtful internal link building should be a key part of your SEO plan.
Now let‘s analyze the specific internal link SEO signals that influence search ranking algorithms:
Anchor text refers to the visible, clickable text used in a hyperlink. For internal links, using keywords as anchor text signals relevance for that term.
Anchor text is less influential than for external backlinks due to risk of over-optimization. But it still provides useful context clues for search bots.
Page Authority Passing
Linking from an authoritative, well-ranked page passes some of its ranking power to the destination page. This directly influences search rankings.
Internal links higher up in content, like your introduction, tend to be more valuable for SEO than buried deep in content.
The rate internal links are added over time provides useful ranking signals based on perceived relevance and popularity trends.
Pages that receive high volumes of well-distributed internal links tend to perform better since this models natural linking behavior.
By keeping these factors in mind as you build internal links, you can maximize their impact on page rankings.
Internal Linking for Enhanced User Experience
Beyond SEO, internal links also play a major role in user experience on a website. They help with:
Improved navigation – Linking related content together helps users intuitively navigate and dig deeper into your site.
Higher engagement – When users click and read multiple related articles, this increases pages per session and time on site.
Lower bounce rate – If users land on a thin page with no internal links, they are more likely to bounce away. Adding relevant internal links increases chances they‘ll click to other pages.
Backlink pathing – Link paths like root page > category > product details > product page progressively lead users deeper into your site in a logical way.
Credibility – A well-interlinked site structure feels more professional and editorially-controlled compared to a poorly organized site.
Based on the hard data, it‘s clear proper internal link building is hugely impactful for both SEO success and optimizing user experience.
But how do you implement an effective internal linking structure efficiently at scale? Next, we‘ll explore using internal link plugins.
The 10 Best WordPress Plugins for Automated Internal Links
Manually building contextual internal links between all related content on a large site is extremely tedious and time-consuming.
That‘s where automated WordPress plugins come in very handy!
Let‘s take a look at the 10 best plugins for automatically building internal links at scale:
1. Link Whisper (Editor‘s #1 Choice)
LinkWhisper is my top pick for automated contextual internal linking on WordPress.
As you write or edit posts, Link Whisper analyzes the content using AI and automatically suggests relevant pages to link to. This saves you endless time manually seeking out internal links to insert.
I also love how their system avoids over-optimizing. The plugin is smart enough to vary suggested link placement and anchor text variability to come across as natural as human recommendations.
Link Whisper really simplifies internal linking for SEO best practices in a user-friendly way.
The free version offers basic auto-suggesting functionality while Link Whisper Pro unlocks more powerful features:
- Auto insert suggested links without editing each post
- Bulk internal link management
-Focus on keywords from SEO plugins like Yoast
- Block suggested links by page, anchor text or URL
- Import/export internal links for migration
For both large-scale internal link automation and fine-tuned control, LinkWhisper is a game changer.
2. Yoast SEO
As the most popular SEO plugin, Yoast SEO provides great internal linking capabilities.
In the free version, you get:
- Configuration for desired number of internal links per piece of content
- Internal link notifications if you fall under configured threshold
- Internal linking suggestions as you write posts
With Yoast SEO premium, internal linking gets even more advanced:
- Analyze entire site‘s internal link structure
- Automated contextual linking recommendations
- Manage internal links from one dashboard
- Optimize existing link flow and patterns
For those already using Yoast SEO, upgrading to premium can provide robust internal link automation.
The SEOPress WordPress SEO plugin focuses heavily on internal site optimization.
Their unique Internal Linking Analysis tool offers great insights like:
- Identify orphaned pages with no internal links
- Find pages that should be linked more internally
- Analyze page authority flow
- Spot unnatural linking silos
For automated internal link building, SEOPress inserts contextual recommendation links as you write content.
The paid "Pro" version also includes advanced functionality like bulk internal linking management and editing.
For understanding and optimizing your internal link ecosystem, SEOPress provides enterprise-level capabilities.
Although ThirstyAffiliates targets affiliate links, it can be very effective for internal link automation.
The plugin allows you to categorize links so you can separate internal links from external, affiliate, etc.
Once configured with keywords mapped to internal pages, ThirstyAffiliates will automatically insert relevant contextual internal links as you write content.
The set-it-and-forget-it workflow saves tons of time manually inserting internal links across posts.
5. Pretty Links
Like ThirstyAffiliates, Pretty Links lets you quickly build an automated internal linking process.
You can map custom URLs to internal pages. As you write content, Pretty Links will swap in these clean URLs when matched keywords are used.
This helps standardize internal URLs for branding consistency and UX while still automating internal link insertion.
Linkio specializes in automating internal link building at scale.
Their dashboard offers tons of useful capabilities:
- View all internal links across your site in one dashboard
- Insert new links manually
- Internal link suggestion engine for writing content
- Automated internal links reports and analytics
For enterprise sites with complex needs, Linkio is likely the most powerful dedicated internal linking solution. But it comes at a fairly high price point.
7. RankMath (Honorable Mention)
RankMath SEO plugin doesn‘t offer automated internal linking yet. However, I wanted to mention it as an honorable mention.
Why? RankMath provides the best internal link analytics available in a freemium plugin.
You get helpful data like:
- Number of internal links per article or page
- Which pages are linking to a target URL
- Broken internal link checking and fixes
- Internal link velocity tracking
This helps optimize your manual internal linking process. RankMath plans to add automated linking in a future update.
8. Internal Link Juicer
Internal Link Juicer takes a simple but effective approach to automated internal linking.
The free version allows you to configure keyword matching. It will then convert matched instances in your content to relevant internal links automatically.
This basic functionality provides enormous time savings compared to manually inserting contextual internal links.
For more advanced internal link management, the paid pro version includes features like:
- Detailed internal link reporting and analytics
- WP-CLI link management
- Removal of risky/over-optimized links
- URL pattern matching for more fine-grained control
For a straightforward internal links workflow, Internal Link Juicer is a great free option.
9. SEO Ultimate
The SEO Ultimate WordPress plugin specializes in optimizing on-site SEO factors – so internal linking is a major focus.
Core features that help with internal link automation include:
- Auto-linking related content through customizable widgets
- Detailed internal links reporting per piece of content
- Analysis of internal links flow patterns
- Link indexing and mapping your site‘s internal link ecosystem
SEO Ultimate makes it easy to insert contextual internal links at scale. The plugin also provides deep analytics on your internal links for data-driven optimization.
10. Redirection Plugin
The Redirection plugin isn‘t designed solely for internal linking – it manages all types of URL redirects.
However, it can be very useful for maintaining and optimizing internal links via its redirection capabilities.
For example, you can fix broken internal links by setting up redirects from outdated URLs to the new location. This ensures link equity continues to flow properly.
Over time, Redirection helps keep your internal links working and aligns URLs changes with your internal linking structure through easy redirects mapping.
3 Key Benefits of Using an Internal Link Plugin
While some SEO plugins have internal linking features, dedicated internal link plugins unlock unique advantages:
Greater link analytics – Internal linking plugins provide more granular stats, reporting, and insights to optimize your overall linking structure.
Automated suggestions – The plugins automatically suggest smart contextual links to insert as you create content using AI.
Saves time – Rather than manually adding links article-by-article, you can manage links in bulk and automate the process.
The right plugin provides enormous time-savings while giving you data-driven insights to maximize your internal links SEO potential.
How to Use Internal Link Plugins for Maximum SEO Value
Based on my extensive testing of internal link plugins, here are some pro tips to maximize SEO value:
Focus on High Authority Sites
Be strategic with linking to your most authoritative, trusted pages like category hubs and proven evergreen content. This transfers more equity.
Vary Anchor Text
Avoid overusing exact-match keywords as anchor text which can appear unnatural. Vary your anchors.
Map Keyword to Relevant Pages
When configuring automated linking, carefully match keyword to contextual destination pages – don‘t just link words randomly.
Promote Useful Category Pages
Linking deeper into your site architecture (like key category pages) tends to be more valuable than just linking to your homepage.
Distribute Links Across Content
Adding too many links from the same source article feels overly promotional. Distribute links across many sources.
Monitor Link Velocity
Keep an eye on internal link velocity and avoid sudden spikes which can seem manipulative.
Fix Broken Links
Find and fix broken internal links using redirection plugins or patches to maintain your internal linking equity distribution.
With the right strategy tailored to your site and purpose, internal link plugins can significantly boost your SEO rankings and user experience.
The Bottom Line – Internal Link Building Should Be a Core SEO Focus
Internal link building using the right plugins and strategy has a high ROI:
It directly improves SEO rankings by distributing equity, enhancing relevance, and structuring crawlability.
It creates a better user experience through improved click-through navigation and engagement on your site.
It saves enormous time compared to manually trying to link related content together across siloed pages.
Despite its importance, internal linking is still often overlooked or under-optimized in many SEO plans.
Hopefully this guide provides a comprehensive overview of best practices and tools to make internal link building manageable and highly effective.
The plugins and strategies covered above are your blueprint to SEO success – now it‘s time to put them into action!
I welcome your thoughts and questions in the comments below. Let me know how internal linking works for your WordPress site and the results you see.