The Best Practises for Internal Linking in a WordPress Website

Hello and welcome to this easy-to-understand (hopefully) series of articles on blogging for beginners. This article is all about internal linking. Please note that you can also find this series of articles on blogging for beginners as a Kindle eBook. I personally think that if you are looking for help to learn how to blog, then downloading the ebook will make your life a lot easier. It’s also incredibly cheap (or maybe even free if you happen to find it on a promo day!) so click on the image below.

This article may get a little complex but I want you to bear with me and don’t be afraid to re-read parts of it if you need to. I should also point out that this isn’t so much difficult to understand as difficult to explain clearly, which is why it may be a little difficult to understand if you see what I mean. So, now I have said that, let’s move on. 

This article is all about internal linking but we are also going to have to talk about menus, categories and subcategories. If you are reading this after having bought my first book, “How to Set Up a WordPress Website from Scratch”, then this will probably be easier to follow. If you already have a website, you may want to have your ‘menus’ page open in your WordPress dashboard so that you can follow along that way.

Your Categories and Subcategories

So, let’s now go back to thinking about categories and subcategories and we’re going to continue using a travel blog as an example to make things as easy as possible. We already have our menus written down somewhere which gives us a plan for writing content, so what we should now be thinking about is writing content in groups. 

For example, we have a category called Northern Europe, a subcategory called the Baltic States, a sub-subcategory called Latvia. If we are going to write about Latvia, an obvious group of topics could be its nine major cities. Let’s make a list of what they are.

1. Rīga
2. Daugavpils
3. Liepāja
4. Jelgava
5. Jūrmala
6. Ventspils
7. Rēzekne
8. Valmiera
9. Jēkabpils

Now, to be honest, I have no idea if it’s even possible to write separate articles about each of those cities. Apart from Riga, not one of them has a population of over 100,000 people. Still, since we’re not actually going to write any of the articles, who cares, right? 

The point is that we now have nine articles that we can internally link to. However, we can’t just start writing. We still need to think about how we are going to place the internal links within these articles.

Planning Your Internal Links

First of all, you obviously do not want to publish all nine articles at the same time; Google won’t like that at all. So, let’s look at what a possible publishing schedule might look like:

Article 1: Riga

This is the first of the articles so won’t have any internal links. This will often happen and is no problem. Just make sure that you make a note somewhere to go back until you have added the three internal links we want each article to have.

Article 2: Daugavpils

Like the Riga article, we are not going to have the three internal links in this one either. However, we are able to add the internal link to Riga somewhere in this article. Also, you can go back to the Riga article and add the link for this article.

Article Day 3: Liepāja

Now we are getting a bit better. In this article, we will be able to link to the Riga and Daugavpils articles, so we have two out of the three internal links we want. We can also go back to the Riga and Daugavpils articles and add the link for this article.

Article 4: Jelgava

After writing the Jelgava article, we would be able yo put the link for this article in the first three articles we wrote. We would be able to put the links of the first three articles into this article. And in the middle two, we would have two other variations.

So, let’s review. After Day 4, we would have this :

1: Riga Article (with internal links to Daugavpils, Liepāja, and Jelgava articles).
2: Daugavpils Article (with internal links to Riga, Liepāja, and Jelgava articles).
3: Liepāja Article (with internal links to Riga, Daugavpils, and Jelgava articles).
4: Jelgava Article (with internal links to Riga, Daugavpils, and Liepāja articles).

I won’t go on and on as I’m sure you get the gist. As you continue writing articles, you can mix and match the internal linking up so you get nice variations for each post. 

However, the internal links you have above are all about Latvia, which is fine when you’re first starting out. However, it may get a bit repetitive if you do that all the time. So how can you change things around a little bit?

Making Things More Interesting

Let’s go back to when we were planning our content and menu structure. As we are writing a travel blog, I am sure that writing travel tips would be useful for other travellers. So rather than writing lots of articles about Latvian cities and nothing else, you could write articles about Latvian cities AND travel tips.

Internal Linking

But then again, I’m sure you would like to make some money from your blog, so maybe you would like to start promoting travel insurance. In that case, you might want to write lots of travel insurance articles and link other articles to them. And this is why you need to be careful.

Don’t Overcomplicate Matters

You may be saying to yourself, “Hang on. If I keep thinking of different menu sections, where does it stop? I’ll never publish anything because I’ll always be thinking of new categories and subcategories.” And that’s why I said you need to be careful.

Don’t overthink your content strategy, or you’ll never publish anything if you are constantly second-guessing your internal linking. So, to stop you over-thinking things, here is the best way to do internal linking.

Stick to the plan! I know that sounds obvious, but that’s why we made it in the first place, right? If you think of other articles you’d like to write, that’s fine. Make a note of whatever ideas you have, but keep on going with the original plan. Don’t get distracted because that distraction will screw up your entire content strategy. 

Update Your Older Articles

And, of course, you can go back and update your posts when you have links to other articles that add value to the post you are updating. Plus, this is a very good habit to get into anyway. There are two good reasons to do this. 

Firstly, you can spend some time each week re-reading what you have written and see if you can improve your articles in any way. Don’t be too anal about this (if you’ll pardon the expressions) but there is normally something that can be clarified. This is especially true if you tend to digress, which is my big weakness. Secondly, Google loves posts that are updated. Your posts will get more ‘juice’ because Google will think that you are making your posts more relevant.

Speaking about Google, we already know that internal linking is good for SEO but I’m not sure I have explained properly why it is so good. Actually, it’s pretty obvious. Internal linking keeps people on your site for longer, especially if you can link internally in a useful way. This is good for your site’s SEO because if your visitors stay on your site for longer, Google assumes that you have something worth saying so it will rank your site higher than others.

How to Practise Good Internal Linking

For the final part of this article, I’d like to show you a couple of ways to practise good internal linking. What you want to try and avoid is saying things like, “If you want to read more about Latvian cities, click here.” This doesn’t sound very good and can also look a bit spammy, which Google and other search engines definitely don’t like. So, how can you do it?

Internal Linking

Let’s continue with the travel blog example. One way to internally link would be to just add it in the text and hope people click it when they see it.

Example One

If you are on a budget[LINK], one great travel tip[LINK] for visiting Riga is to stay in one of the many backpacker hostels[LINK] you can find scattered around the city.

I’ve identified three different places where you could add an internal link. Now, you don’t want to add links in all three places. It will make your text look horrible and if readers see lots of links, they just end up not clicking any of them. Of course, if the only other article you have is the one you wrote on travel tips, then the choice is made for you.

The second way to do internal linking is to literally tell people there is another article that’s on a similar theme and suggest that your readers check it out. This is how it could look.

Example Two

“The problem was that this was not a system that could continue. The Seine started filling up with crap and the streets became impassable. So, people started thinking that there needed to be a better solution. That’s why the Paris Sewers started to grow. 

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN: 10 Reasons Why France Is an Awesome Country to Visit (THIS IS THE INTERNAL LINK)

The problem with this plan was that the sewers were just a good start. The poop and pee (I can’t keep saying waste, it sounds ridiculous) were still heading into the Seine. There was so much crap that the Seine had more or less stopped flowing, the river stank, and people were getting physically sick. After all, the Seine was still being used for drinking water.”

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN: 10 Best Travel Straws When You Can’t Find Clean Water to Drink (THIS IS ANOTHER INTERNAL LINK)

Don’t overdo the “YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:” parts. The above example was just to give you an idea of what to do. Three should be more than enough. Actually, the best thing to do is to do both types of internal linking. 

You have the subtler internal links within a paragraph and then you have the more ‘in-your-face’ YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN types of links scattered around your article.

H. New Tab Or No New Tab

One other thing you want to think about is if you want your internal links to open up in a new tab or not. As there is no penalty for internal links opening up in new tabs, it really is up to you to decide which you would prefer.

Internal Linking

My own personal preference is to have internal links open in a new tab unless the link is right at the end of the article because, once your visitors have finished reading the article, there’s no need to stay on it. However, if you have put internal links in the middle of your posts, I would have them open up in a new tab.

I should add a caveat that I have no idea what the best practise is because no one seems to know. When I am surfing the net, I always right-click and open links in a new window, so my own blogs don’t reflect my browsing habits. In other words, do whatever you like; it probably makes no difference in the long run.

I. Wrapping It All Up

And there you have it. Another article packed with lots of useful information. Let’s go over what we talked about one more time.

We started with categories and subcategories. Then, we looked at how we can plan our writing in groups and how we can internally link to the articles as we go along. After that, we looked at how to avoid over-thinking too much so that we don’t get distracted and going back to older articles and updating them.

Finally, we talked about the two different ways of linking internally to other posts. The first way was to use in-paragraph linking, which is the subtler way of linking internally. Then, we looked at the more ‘in-your-face’ way of linking to other posts. And finally, we discussed whether to open new links in a new tab or not, coming to the conclusion that it probably doesn’t matter.

Well done for getting through this article. Now, let’s move onto the next one, which is all about writing great blog posts.

Michael Williams

Blogger, writer, teacher and an all-round good egg.

View all posts by Michael Williams →

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