This is a longer post, so strap yourself in. For us and our client SEO Strategies, internal linking is one of the most important factors and things you can do to send the right kind of signals to search engines to inform them of what you/your site deems important and what the structure of the site is all about. We work with lots of clients, and SEO internal linking structures are always factored in to our SEO strategies.

The importance on internal links structures are quite varied, but they do allow for a better and quicker understanding for indexing of content and pages, through to parsing link flow from one page to another – I always “coin the phrase” with clients, that its great for signalling to search engines the structure of your site, where pages “live” and keywords you find important and what page you want to rank for.

Within this post, I have highlighted the approach we have to internal linking structure for SEO and the benefits, its not exhaustive by any means and with all search engine optimisation tactics, they work hand in hand with other elements and tactics to employ.

Should Important Pages be at the Root of the Domain?

Not really, think more about clustering information and information architecture! There’s always been the debate in the world of SEO about the depth of a website and important information pages shouldn’t be buried deep down (3-4 clicks/folders) on a site. Although we like to try and keep the important information at a higher folder level, I often recommend that its best to cluster your content around topics, thinking more about what a person is searching for and where they land.

This allows for pages to be within folder structures and not just near the root of the domain, for example:


Whereas, clustering would be more like:


Think about targeting different parts of the research funnel – where you have a high-level overview/important information of your product and service on a “higher up page” and subsequent pages that flow off can be ideal for those further into the research funnel and understanding phase. The important stuff (or high value, high search volume) can be near the top, with lots of links to more content around that cluster/subject flowing off it, allowing the user to be more informed when reading and consuming the information – and of course clicking on more links to content deeper into the site around certain specifics, detailed information, technical specs and so on.

Using a cluster of topics above, allows different pages to potentially rank for the high volume keywords, other pages that link off the main page rank for longer tail key search phrases.

As an example, lets say you wanted to rank for (we have a client that we support already):

  • Car paint resprays – you would want the main page to target the higher volume keywords, that could also target both local SEO or national – target high volume keywords/search demand.
  • Beyond that you would want to associate content around what it actually means, what you offer, so you could then segment supporting content around it for.
  • Different paint types by manufacturer – medium volume keywords/search demand and research phase/funnel.
  • Different paint colours, types and availability – medium volume keywords/search demand and research phase/funnel.
  • Different paint corrections/advice on approaches – medium volume keywords/search demand and research phase/funnel.
  • Different types of tools used to correct paint – lower volume keywords/search demand, much lower research phase/funnel.

You can see above, that yes, you could develop a really long product landing page and try to target lots of lists, keywords and features on one page – but if Car Resprays is the service you offer, then you’d want a call-to-action super high up on a main page and try to have it clutter free with a “Get in touch” type button. People searching for wider search phases can be targeted with the other supporting pages. Remember, that ALL these pages tie together, under one folder cluster… there will be hyperlinks to the supporting pages off the main page and then hyperlinks back to the main page too, using the keywords you want the main page to rank for.

Organising your Information Architecture and folder structure is vitally important for both search engines and users alike, as it allows both to understand the flow, navigation and where URLs, content is structured and “lives” on the site, generating more topical equity and hopefully search queries all around one specific part of the site.

We talk about this all the time when it comes to SEO Strategies for our clients and for us, its so important to understand and keep it well organised. Whether you call it link equity, SEO juice, link juice, whatever… essentially, links from external sites and internal links parse equity to each page it links to – therefore, vital that you build authority to other important (NOT ALL) pages across your site.

External Backlinks to Your Site

Having backlinks to your site from external sites informs search engines that an external site, finds the content, your brand, product or service relevant and therefore links to it – which inturn, informs its own users via that link, that its referring you/your site. Think of it as a recommendation… those recommendations by the 10s, 100s or 1000s are still heavily relied on by search engine ranking algorithms as a factor in which it ranks your page and site to push it higher up in its search results.

As an example, lets say the BBC website (I won’t go into follow, nofollow links here, that’s another post), adds a link to your website. Obviously the BBC website is seen as a BIG authority and suddenly its linking to your site, promoting it, or “recommending” it. Search engine algorithms see this backlink as a strong indicator, that a site of authority is recommending your site…. this is known as a backlink and passes link equity or link value to your site, authority is being passed from BBC to your page/site. This is what you may hear SEO agencies talk about when they mention backlinks, or backlink strategy.

Internal Linking Structures - Digital Thrive SEO

Now, if you have links to other pages on your site, on the page that the BBC has linked to, then link equity/authority is passed over from that one page to the others – essentially sharing the love from the backlink, from the BBC – sounds simple eh? (not all backlinks are equal – be mindful not to fall into the trap of I MUST have 1000s of links to my site – I will discuss this in another post).

Understanding the value of where external backlinks come from and where they point to pages on your site is still really important – we want to make sure that the authority from that external backlink, not only hits the one page, but is shared to other important pages on your site. You also want to avoid 100s of links on that one page (that the BBC has linked to) to others on your site, otherwise you dilute the value from that external link thinly across your site. So make sure that the important pages on your site are linked to is critical, for passing link equity from other sites to yours and signalling to search engines that there are other pages that need to be “noticed”.

Its About Real Users – Focus on the User Experience

As mentioned above, this isn’t just about search bots, its about users, real people and interactions. We know that search engines reward positive user experiences, as ultimately each search engine wants to deliver its own customers/users (everyone who uses Google etc) with the best experience. If a search engine places a website in #1 position for its users to click on, then that site has an awful user experience, forcing them to bounce off the page, back to the search engine and so on, then guess what – the search engine, won’t want to put you infront of its users – sounds simple, when you say it out loud eh!?

Some things to avoid for user experience (they seem obvious, but so many sites have these issues), would be:

  • Too many adverts above the fold – far too many media sites fall foul of this, terrible user experience when you are hit (well your eyes are), with lots of different ads, flashing and trying to make you click on them.
  • Thin content – little or no value to a user when searching for something – why would you bother, if it adds no value to the user.
  • Interstitials – yes, overlays or pop ups – you think they are important, the user may not and search engines don’t like them either.
  • Bloated, heavy sites – its not the year 2000 anymore, where users will wait for the content to load – they want it NOW, super quick… any lag in loading pages not only makes the user wait = bad experience, it is also a ranking factor for Google, they prefer pages load in under 2.5 seconds, even that sounds like an age now!
  • Hiding Call to Actions at the footer of a page – we have seen this so often – if your goal is to funnel users to an important page, purchase, sign up – make it easy and quick for them to do.

Search engines algorithms are highly tuned to understand the experiences its users are having, and whether or not to place your site at the top for “its” users. If your site causes users not to find what they need, then yep, Google etc won’t want to put you up top.

Develop Standalone Unique Content

This isn’t a new one by a very long stretch – its been the same message for over 12 years at least. Back in the wild west days of early 2000-2008 or so, you could have very much the same content as competitors or multiple product landing pages with the same content and search engines could easily show you in the top results, those days of duplicate content have gone – unique content based on your audience, their pain points, products/services, brand, niche is required, so develop unique content based on what you know about your audience and benefits or solution your product gives them.

When it comes to your own site, there will be times where you can end up with duplicate content. We see this a lot on ecommerce sites, where the same products are in lots of different categories, or even manufacturers who supply content for products that you sell via your site, will supply that exact same content to all its suppliers – sometimes requesting that you DON’T edit it. Where this does happen, you’ll need to put certain things in place in the background to signal to search engines that there may duplicate content, but you only want one page to rank for it.

Its important to understand that if you have duplicate content – copy, descriptions, meta data, images, titles etc etc for more than one URL on your site, that you know which page you want a search engine to rank, and its that page that’s most important.

For example, let’s say you sell watches, then you could have:


As you can see, these are under categories but the first URL “/mens-watches/rolex-submariner” is the URL with the content, you want to rank, but obviously the other 2 (or many more) have the same content on them, so would be deemed duplicate content and potentially cannibalise each other. We want to make sure that a search engines understands this and you signal that to them clearly…. in comes the Canonical Tag.

The Crafty and Very Handy Canonical Tag

Here’s where the Canonical Tag comes into play, its a snippet of code added to the <head> of the pages. The Canonical Tag signals to search engines that the URL in question is the only instance on the site with that URL and that content, plus you can add that same Canonical Tag to other pages on the site, to inform search engines that there is similar/duplicate content on others pages but you only want it to recognise one version/page/URL. For the above examples, you would add a Canonical Tag to the <head> of the “main” page you want to rank and then the other category pages, which would look like:

  • – <link rel=”canonical” href=”” />
  • – <link rel=”canonical” href=”” />
  • – <link rel=”canonical” href=”” />

As you can see above, adding the Canonical Tag to the other category pages on the site, informs the search engine that we want them to crawl and rank the content on the first URL.

WordPress and many other platforms automatically add it to the code, but a lot of other platforms and Content Management Systems don’t. There maybe an option for a plugin or a standalone area on the builder that you can add in a Canonical Tag, so its worth checking this when choosing an ecommerce platform to host your products.

Making sure that your sitemap.xml is up to date and only includes the URL that you want to rank is also an important part, you don’t want to add all those extra category URLs that hold the duplicate content to your sitemap for a search engine to waste time on crawling, to find that it didn’t need to – this is called Crawl Budget. We have covered this already and how to make sure you can optimise for Crawl Budget.

Mapping out your site, to fully understand the URLs and categories which are the ones you want to rank, over and above others is really important – as we know, with bigger ecommerce sites, categories, navigational changes happen often, so having a mapped out URL structure for SEO will mean its well organised and you won’t fall foul of duplicate content or cannibalisation. If you need any help with internal linking structures, or finding out which pages are the ones that search engines value the most, then as an SEO agency, feel free to get in contact today and we can discuss.

Make it Easy for Search Engine Crawlers to Understand Your Site

What’s mentioned earlier around link equity passing from one page to another via hyperlinks, we want to make sure we don’t waste any opportunities for crawlers/search engines to fully understand the structure, user flow and value you assign to pages on your site. When a search engine hits your site, it will be looking to quickly and easily crawl/understand your site and its structure – the obvious main area here that the crawler will “look at” is your site navigation – along with your sitemap and robots.txt files (I explain more about the importance of sitemaps in another post).

The crawler will see these internal hyperlinks to category pages, product pages etc from your navigation and know that they are the important pages/structure you want them to index and crawl – making sure that the important pages for your site are within the navigation on each page of the site is therefore crucial.

Don’t overcook your navigation, we have all been on sites where there are 100s of links to areas of a site, with a “super flyout navs” – stand back and think, what are the important higher level pages that I want a search engine to index, rank your site for. These links are strong signals to crawlers/search engines of the structure and pages for it to visit, if you have 100s of links in your navigation… then, you’ll be watering down that link equity, we talked about earlier.

Any pages on your site that are not deemed “that important” can always be put in the footer navigation – Terms & Conditions, legal stuff and so on. We are trying to make sure that any crawl budget isn’t wasted on unnecessary internal links from your navigation to pages, that you/user won’t find that important or useful.

The above is not an exhaustive list, but a guide for areas to keep in mind to boost your SEO efforts for internal linking on your own site. As an SEO Agency in Cardiff, we can help and support you where needed on making sure that your site is best optimised for internal links, crawling and indexing – feel free to contact us to have a friendly chat.

Final Thoughts

Search engines roll out updates to how they rank sites, (more regular than you think) each year… so trying to be ahead of any changes will help – but making sure that we adhere to those best practices now, is whats important. Among all of the ways in which we can optimise websites for search – having a solid internal linking structure, allowing search engines to crawl, understand our sites quickly and easily is what is key to improving organic traffic and keeping your site performance, with search engines, up there!