#534 3 Ways To Optimize Internal Linking by Corey Patterson
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speakerChris Burres·00:12

And welcome to the SEO podcast.  Unknown secrets of internet marketing. My name is Chris Burres is one of the owners of EWR digital. 

speakerMatt Bertram·00:18

And my name is Matt Bertram.  Your lead SEO strategist.  Although I just hired another one, 

speakerChris Burres·00:23

Sorry, another one.  And another one joins the deem. 

speakerMatt Bertram·00:27

Maybe they become the lead.  And I just become like Chris and just become an owner. 

speakerChris Burres·00:36

Foolish, mortal.  Welcome back to another fun-filled edition of the podcast.  This is podcast number three, five hundred and thirty four and a it’s interesting podcast.  We’re going to talk about three ways to optimize internal linking.  We are proudly sponsored by a cohost.  We’ve mentioned Kosta in the past, actually interviewed the chief technical guy over at cohost.  Matt did that one on his own.  I’m sure brilliant things were said.  It is a platform, a hosting platform for those people who understand hosting is important for your SEO. 

speakerMatt Bertram·01:14

Yeah.  So technical optimization many times falls to a developer.  Not many SEO companies have like system admins on staff and can do server side optimization.  So we’ve been able to provide that to outside of just our company, but other freelancers and other small agencies.  So co-host is definitely something you should check out if you’re frustrated with your current hosting options.  So. 

speakerChris Burres·01:42

Yeah, absolutely.  Was there an oh, there is a review.  The review is unfortunately only three stars.  It is from a guy named a hill nap.  The title is no more banter.  Everything about this show is good, except the banter at the start.  If the host would just get out of there, get that out of the way before they started recording, it would bring the rating up to five stars, a hill nap.  Thank you very much, 

speakerMatt Bertram·02:11

Chris.  I gave you a good review and that’s the one. 

speakerChris Burres·02:15

Like we got to, you know, we got to let people understand that we hear their feedback.  We understand like this is literally the only complaint we’ve had debates.  This is going back like five years now, right?  Where the team is like, Hey, you know, maybe we need to shorten this up, shorten that up.  And my point is, it’s a, what?  Nine times easier to get a negative review than a positive review.  And 90% of our reviews are positive reviews. 

speakerMatt Bertram·02:43

No, I mean, Chris, like, it goes back to the ethos of why you started this podcast and you started this podcast for you and your team to kind of document what you were seeing in the marketplace and record that to that, to the team.  And so it’s always been more inward facing as far as a podcast, cause there’s no editing and you know, a number of things.  So certainly we’re partnering with some people.  I am starting another podcast on crypto.  I’ve come up with a name by the way.  And. 

speakerChris Burres·03:19

I want to hear the name. 

speakerMatt Bertram·03:21

Decentralized marketing. 

speakerChris Burres·03:23

Decent.  Ooh. 

speakerMatt Bertram·03:25

Yeah.  Yeah.  So, but yeah, 

speakerChris Burres·03:28

I mean, might. 

speakerMatt Bertram·03:29

Want a different format, certainly like a interview style podcasts.  There’s people that are interested in different stuff, but yeah, Chris and I banter that’s actually what makes my job enjoyable.  So, 

speakerChris Burres·03:45

Wow.  I didn’t know the situation was that Dyer. 

speakerMatt Bertram·03:52

Yeah, I was in let’s see Denver, and then I was in San Diego.  Then I was in Mexico.  Then I was in Vegas and then going back to Mexico, all for conferences, but Chris, it’s a tough life like, so, and you were just in Dubai and the world affiliate conference.  So tough life for sure.  Right? 

speakerChris Burres·04:12

Yeah.  Lots of miles with 16 hours on the way back, I was a little bit under the weather that was rough.  You know, one of the things that you didn’t mention in it has really served a good purpose for our podcast is really to have a pulse on our company, right?  AWR digital, and the banter’s part of it.  Like were, we get along friendly.  We have a good time together.  That is that permeates, you know, the, the people who work at AWR listened to the podcast and that permeates through how people understand our culture and how people interpret and participate as an EWI.  EWI. 

speakerMatt Bertram·04:52

Were a lot of memes that float around our internal chats.  And really, since COVID Chris, we, as you know, but maybe not listeners, we pivoted to, we have an office, we still have a lease on an office, but no, I went to the office for the first time for client meeting today, we did a, a workshop, but typically like everything’s remote, we’ve been hiring the best of the best across the U S globally.  And yeah, we, we Excel bringing on contractors and freelancers that just are the best at what they do.  And they’re looking at being part of a team.  And I think that they are attracted to the culture.  Like I said, we just brought on another SEO project manager slash strategist.  And literally she fit in right away. 

speakerMatt Bertram·05:42

And like, she’s dropped like three memes and today was like her first day.  Like, and you know, and we, you know, so I think we have a lot of fun with it.  And I, I certainly think that’s important with our culture.  So I think that’s a good highlight.  Chris, call up. 

speakerChris Burres·05:58

A, a hill nap.  We, we understand and we’re probably not going to change that.  So we’ll accept your, 

speakerMatt Bertram·06:04

You can fast forward.  A lot of people do fast forward to the beginning, you know, and they try to time it.  Right.  But you never know how long we’re going to answer.  We could banter for just a minute or it could be longer.  So let’s get into it.  Chris we’ve answered enough.  We badgered enough.  Like you’ve pushed it to the max. 

speakerChris Burres·06:22

Is it, is it okay now let’s get to the article.  This article is by Corey P Patterson, but TIFF to you, three ways to optimize internal linking.  Let’s just jump into this.  So links are one of the primary ways Google understands and ranks websites, crawlers measure the flow of ranking signals and blink flow goes by many names.  So this is a as presented by Jonathan Epstein, CEO of Brewco at SMX next.  Some people call it link juice.  Some people call it page rank.  And the broadest terms, link flows are a measurement of how important your pages are relative to other pages out there on the internet.  So. 

speakerMatt Bertram·07:05

What do you, what do you call it, Chris? 

speakerChris Burres·07:08

I call it paint, drink, or link juice in terms of the what’s going there, but how that juice kind of elevates or D elevates your website that’s page rank, right? 

speakerMatt Bertram·07:17

I stopped calling it SEO juice.  I started calling it link equity because you know, I’m trying to mature. 

speakerChris Burres·07:25

Oh, okay.  There, is there some sort of defy word that you could apply to the link?  Maybe it’s a. 

speakerMatt Bertram·07:32

No, no, but paid page ranking link equity is what I’ve been using.  So I don’t know. 

speakerChris Burres·07:38

I like Lincoln Ft Just cause throwing out the buzzword that I know the one.  So there’s two main signals, right?  The first is what are the other sites that are linking to each of your pages?  How many are there?  How big are they?  How authoritative are they?  Right.  And we’ve, we’ve always like from the beginning, sometimes you’ve got to kind of express this to customers who aren’t don’t understand.  You’re like, Hey, is it more valuable to have a link from MSN or from, you know, Joe’s t-shirt shop right. 

speakerMatt Bertram·08:14

To pens people. 

speakerChris Burres·08:17

That your industry is.  And then you know, that, that continued.  But really that’s kind of breaks it down because the MSN is a credible news source and you’ve got a link from there and it’s a do fault.  So we’ll get SEO technical.  If it’s a do follow link, it’s not an ad, which usually means it’s a do follow link.  That’s going to be more valuable than again, the t-shirt shop.  So that’s one piece.  The second is it looks at how are you linking your pages to each other and Matt, you and I have talked about this. 

speakerChris Burres·08:50

I don’t know, at least a couple of times in two of the last 10 podcasts, we’re talking about internal linking structure and the value of internal linking structure was kind of why we chose this particular article.  And one of the very, I think salient points is you can go out there and you can have a campaign and you can have efforts for building backlinks.  Right.  And you should do that.  But the single thing that you have 100% control over is your link structure.  Like there’s, you don’t have to go ask somebody for a guest post or ask somebody for a back link or, Hey, this one is a dead back link.  So can you point it to me now?  You just go onto your website and you change your links and you’re done like 100% control. 

speakerMatt Bertram·09:38

Yeah.  So I can certainly add a lot and I didn’t read this article, but skim it.  So I was doing other things when you were reading it, Chris, I apologize, but I can’t tell you hopefully not to step on anybody’s toes.  Typically how I would look at things is typically like 10, like there’s 10 links on a page that you can do external or internal.  That’s one concept, right?  Where are you going to link to?  That’s the max number?  I wouldn’t necessarily do all 10, but I wouldn’t go more than 10 people go overly crazy.  Now, if you’re linking to your homepage, you’re pushing juice back to, or link equity back to your homepage.  Right?  You got to understand why are you doing that?  Right?  What is the user flow? 

speakerMatt Bertram·10:30

Why would someone want to click through, why are you trying to drive them back to your homepage? It’s gotta, it’s got to certainly make sense.  And when you talk about, let’s say internal linking it’s about organization of data, right?  Like bottom line.  That’s what Google is trying to do is trying to organize all information in the world.  And so you’re trying to basically drive that customer journey to see the kind of information you need it to see.  And so certainly there are some tools out there that like, anytime you use this word link to this page, right.  And that those types of tools, if you’re cutting with a, a butcher knife or something like it works right then, and you’re basically creating a bunch of signals, Hey, this page is important. 

speakerMatt Bertram·11:18

And it’s important for like this keyword, right.  But it’s really about how that page interacts with other pages.  And does it make sense if someone’s trying to make a decision based on whatever this page is ranking for, is this the best data? And then what are the other data sources of why you need to link out or why you need to internal link, right?  And so there’s these broader concepts that you have to have in place of what the overall strategy is.  And then, you know, linking to different pages.  We see so many websites that we call them, orphan pages that basically you throw up a blog or a page, and it’s not linking to any other pages.  So there’s no contextual signals that Google understands. 

speakerMatt Bertram·12:04

How has that page in relation to these other pages?  How valuable is it?  Why when someone’s reading here, do they want to do this?  There’s some machine learning, serious machine learning going on with Google and it’s getting smarter and smarter.  And so, you know, like linking people do it without much thought put into it.  And I think it creates a lot of confusion. I’ve seen even with sites that are linking crazily, Google doesn’t even know what the site’s about because you’re, you’re pushing, you’ve organized the information in a way that it doesn’t fully understand, certainly on page comes into that.  But a wink is about right.  A link is about.  And so if other people off page are voting to you, it depends who that vote is and how important it is. 

speakerMatt Bertram·12:53

So MSNBC, you know, if you’re a big national company, it could be a big deal.  If you’re a smaller company, it could be a big deal.  But having like a local newspaper linked to you might be more relevant or having a journal in your niche linked to you may be even more valuable.  Also, where is that link going?  Is it going to the homepage is going to a blog is going to the service page, wait, all these things got to be taken into consideration. Typically again, if you paint with a broad brush, MSN link is more important, but also Google looks at something.  They call them we’re a family podcast, but crappy church links. 

speakerMatt Bertram·13:32

So if you look up crappy church links, Google actually values local businesses that maybe don’t have the SSL certificate and maybe not the best written because they understand that small businesses maybe don’t have the money to put towards that.  And so they try to balance it out.  But if there’s a lot of, you know, men, you know, kids T-ball league linking to, or something like that, it shows you’re active in that community.  And so for keywords that are geo-specific, that could be more important, right? 

speakerMatt Bertram·14:07

If you’re going after a big national term, or you’re trying to expand your market and do some PR to go say, let’s say you’re in Houston to go outside of Houston, you need some of those bigger links to give yourself enough domain authority and link equity for if you’re trying to rank in another era, Google is you’re expert enough or you’re important enough to start showing.  So gosh, I talked for longer than I should have, but. 

speakerChris Burres·14:34


speakerMatt Bertram·14:35

Your question added value, 

speakerChris Burres·14:37

All good stuff ended at value to jump back in.  Most marketers tend to focus a lot on gathering backlinks to improve their properties while neglecting the optimize to optimize internal links on their site.  Here are three Epstein recommends marketers beat best optimize their sites with internal linking.  So first is optimize distribution of link flow.  How do you stop pushing link flow to less important pages and push it to more important ones?  Start by removing extraneous links that don’t need to be there.  These extraneous links are often copied on multiple pages and featured near the top of pages, such as maybe a job opening or report downloads, company, mission statements, remove these things where possible placed links to pages that are better optimized for search replace those, right? 

speakerChris Burres·15:30

So add links to the pages you want to push up based on their importance.  If you can do this systematically across the pages of your site, you can start to push up internal link flow to the pages you want to have it and limit it to the pages that you don’t need it because you’re not because those pages are not important for search. 

speakerMatt Bertram·15:47

Yeah.  So at the top of the website, we’ve seen some websites that have like a double navigation bar, which Google actually seems to really like, but then they have their site map up there, which is okay, but now you’re redistributing link juice equally to all the different pages on your site.  And then they’re linking to like their privacy policy page and you don’t really want your privacy policy page to rank.  So, you know, really put the most important links up top and then work your way down.  And like you said, remove the links that are not doing something for you, or they want, think about every link and why you’re linking out or internal links, but you can craft, like you said, Chris, your internal link flow to let Google know what’s most important. 

speakerMatt Bertram·16:36

I think this also folds into like the navigation menu.  So a lot of times people put everything, they offer an equal lading in the navigation bar and then Google doesn’t know what’s most important versus anything else.  And so you’re missing some key opportunities to redirect that link flow to the things that are most important for you or to drive people through that customer journey.  Right?  Like you don’t want all these links where they can just go anywhere on the page.  You want to take them through probably a process or a funnel of some sort. 

speakerChris Burres·17:08

Yeah.  Some sort of architecture that allows people to learn information and in a systematic way. 

speakerMatt Bertram·17:16


speakerChris Burres·17:17

All right.  So number two, this is again, three ways to optimize internal linking number two is reduce link flow loss.  So marketers need to simultaneously review instances of ranking loss through links.  As they’re looking at the optimizing, the link flow from 0.1, this occurs most often when sites link to pages that aren’t search friendly, such as search results, pages, old tag pages that don’t receive traffic Epstein con recommends marketers compensate for these links, the page rank law that caused page rank laws by always linking back from every internal page to the, that you link to.  Right?  So make sure you come back, don’t just dead end it there, but at least have a rebound.  Marketers should also consider how they’re using no follow links in the site content we like to use no follow tags. 

speakerChris Burres·18:09

He says, we see a lot of people losing link flow for social media accounts.  We have constantly said, I mean, there was a point where like your social media, the fact that you had social media added value, right?  Just because you are cutting edge because you already had Facebook, those days are over now, right?  In fact, you were probably dating yourself at Facebook is one of your primary.  And he’s pointing out the past. He’s pointing out that’s, that’s a link flow loss, right?  We see them losing it to customer login sites to help sites, to partner sites consider downgrading them.  If you need to keep them in that structure considered downgrading them, maybe by using a lower point size. 

speakerChris Burres·18:50

So shrink that text that says it gives messaging to the search engines, putting them further down the page or adding other links to the page that are the valuable ones you’re looking at. 

speakerMatt Bertram·19:02

Yeah.  I mean, I think that it can also have the reverse effect.  You want all your different social media accounts to link back to your site and you want to have a lot of different properties that you syndicate out content to.  But yeah.  I mean, think about it.  You just got to think about your link flow.  And I don’t think a lot of people think about that.  All right.  So let’s say I have 10 votes for this page.  This page.  Also, you gotta look at what pages are getting the most traffic.  What pages have the most domain authority?  What page hat pages have the most links and say, okay, this page has a higher vote.  Where do I want to redistribute those votes? 

speakerMatt Bertram·19:37

If I have quote unquote up to 10 votes.  And do you want to give that to another site?  Now the caveat here is if you get too, I don’t know, greedy with your link equity and you don’t link out to other sites, Google wants to see basically experts linked to experts. So it’s like a bow tie, right?  So you have links out here and you have links to you, right?  Your site has links to you.  And I don’t know if that makes sense, but you want to link out to other people that are talking about what you’re talking about and other experts, and then other people should be linking to you.  And then it should be like, everybody’s kind of holding hands and linking to each other. 

speakerMatt Bertram·20:13

And so you gotta be really cautious of like who you’re linking to.  And this goes back to eat.  It goes back to your money, your life.  Like if you’re going to link out to somebody, you want to make sure that they’re a trusted source.  Right.  So that’s like the first layer is okay, like, is it a trusted source?  Is it talking about something relevant?  Does it support again, why someone would come to my site to make the decision they want to make is that piece of information helpful? Because you’re saying, Hey, you should leave my site and go check this out for additional support for what I’m doing.  So like even citations or like references at the bottom of pages, I’ve seen help rank for SEO really well. 

speakerMatt Bertram·20:53

And you got to remember, the internet was initially built, like from a scientific kind of standpoint and white papers and all that sort of thing.  So adding citations increases the authority of your site, linking out to social media, like does, so do your social media accounts need any more help showing up in the rankings?  You know?  And if, if you’re trying to, you know, get your LinkedIn up there for whatever name or something like that, maybe.  Right.  But for the most cases I would say do fall, do not follow is probably a good way to go.  So, 

speakerChris Burres·21:31

Yep, absolutely.  All right.  Number three, eliminate penalty factors.  Again, three ways to optimize internal linking a penny penalty factors are things that your pages do that might make them look like spam pages.  The most common penalty factor is related to page ranking is duplicate content apart from your header and footer, your pages should share, ideally share shouldn’t share ideally more than half of the words with each other.  I would say it should be a lot lower. 

speakerMatt Bertram·22:02


speakerChris Burres·22:04

20%.  Right? 

speakerMatt Bertram·22:05

That would be my number. 

speakerChris Burres·22:06

Yeah.  But we see tons of pages where the page will share our 90% of its words with right.  And that’s really a detrimental situation. 

speakerMatt Bertram·22:18

Oh, go ahead.  Chris fashion, 

speakerChris Burres·22:21

Marketers should also avoid linking too many pieces of thin content on their sites. 

speakerMatt Bertram·22:26

Yeah.  I would say Kiana collides pages.  If you’re going to have a lot of similar content to know that, Hey, I was intentional about this and this is kind of something the same.  So you’re not having to rewrite everything per page.  What I’ve seen actually hurt SEO quite a bit.  And this is a little bit outside of the scope of internal linking, but a lot of web developers, if they’re building another page or a service, they just duplicate. 

speakerChris Burres·22:52

And you make yourself bigger on you on the video central. 

speakerMatt Bertram·22:56

I like it.  I think it looks great. For any of you that are watching.  Were playing with the sizing of our images for those of you listening.  So yeah.  So one of the things I’m big time seeing that’s certainly affecting SEO is a lot of people just keep duplicating the same page for like a different service page or location page or whatever.  And they use all the same content.  They use like a lot of the same images and all that sort of thing.  And Google sees that.  And then all those additional duplicated pages don’t get as much weight as the first original page.  So one of the best practices we’ve implemented is, well, each new page needs like you amuse a template, right. 

speakerMatt Bertram·23:41

That you can import into that, but do not duplicate a page when you’re creating it, because it actually will hurt your SEO and those duplicated pages.  Right.  Have all the kind of same links.  They have a very similar text, you know, that’s a problem, right?  It’s not original content and Google doesn’t like that. 

speakerChris Burres·24:04

Yep.  All right.  So let’s wrap this up.  So when you’re sending out link flow to other sites, be careful how they’re positioned too many unreciprocated followed editorial links may look like you’re an advertorial site, even though you’re not building a high quality relevant backlink profile is important, but optimizing your internal link structure and eliminating risk factors is vital to reaping the most benefits from ranking signals.  And I’m going again, add that you are 100% in control of right.  Your internal structure.  You just, you don’t have to, again, you don’t have to beg for backlinks or, you know, w w try and get people you don’t have to, you’re not even working on kind of Google, local SEO, right.  You’re just altering the structure of your own website, which you have a hundred percent control of. 

speakerChris Burres·24:52

So put different the face to Corey Patterson editor for MarTech and search engine land. 

speakerMatt Bertram·24:59

Yeah.  So I would just close on absolutely.  You’re in charge of your own link structure and distributing that link equity that the website has.  I can tell you before this round of updates, at the end of last year, I was able to rank websites without any off page, like backlinks coming to the site.  It was all able to rank through internal ranking.  Now I have not tried to rank since this round of updates a site without any backlinks.  But what I will say is there was a, a sequence, a two-part spam update that happened that I think really panelized or impacted people that were overly using a off-page link strategy and sites that had a lot more, well, more natural or less links, or like just weren’t on the big link building campaign did far better.  Right. 

speakerMatt Bertram·26:02

I haven’t personally built a site and then go, okay. I was able to rank it without any back links, but I have seen sites that were heavy on the backlink side of things, get penalize where people that weren’t really focused on creating off-page backlinks ranked quite well.  And so I think that technical is extremely important and that’s really, you know, co-host, if you don’t have those technical chops and then on page, just traditional page just is phenomenal, works great thinking about link structure or insight structure incredibly important.  And you know, the off page is I think like that icing on the cake, but you know, you want those links to come naturally. 

speakerMatt Bertram·26:52

So if you generate high quality, not thin content, but high quality content that other people will naturally link to you and share, and then have a way through social media to distribute that out.  So more people find it in potentially share it. That is going to be your absolute best strategy.  And as those people come to the site, you want to direct them to, from a customer journey standpoint of where they’re going to go.  And also the spiders when they come to your website where they’re going to go and how that link equity flows around the site. 

speakerMatt Bertram·27:24

So, internal linking, I think, is something when you’re thinking about on page and headers and stuff like that sometimes gets overlooked because we have seen a lot of websites here recently that they had done really good on page, and they were all kind of orphan pages and they weren’t linked together.  And the blogs didn’t really have internal links.  And it just wasn’t something that people paid attention to.  So we wanted to do this blog to help highlight that and kind of bring it back to the forefront of your mind.  So. 

speakerChris Burres·27:54

Very cool.  All right.  That wraps up the content.  We’re just going to ask you to do us one small favor.  If you enjoyed this podcast, got any value out of this podcast.  Please share this podcast with three of your friends, hopefully their marketing friends or business owner, friends, or just friends.  We really appreciate that.  Especially the friends.  If you’re looking to grow your business, using the largest simplest marketing tool on the planet, call AWR digital for increased revenue in your business.  Our phone number is (713) 592-6724.  If you go to the best SEO podcast.com, you can find a link to get our custom profit plan.  It is, we get rave reviews for this. 

speakerChris Burres·28:43

You’ll get some time with one of our internet marketing specialists and the walk you through the process.  Talk about improvements, tangible improvements that you can make to your website, like immediately in addition to the links that you should be changing based on this podcast.  So again, EWI digital.com 7 1 3 5 9 2 6 7 2 4.  Also leave us a review E wr digital.com forward slash review.  And I think that wraps it up for this podcast.  Hopefully a hill Napa is happy with our abbreviated.  Chit-chat at the beginning in our quick close. 

speakerMatt Bertram·29:19

And thank you for listening.  We appreciate it. 

speakerChris Burres·29:22

All right, until next time.  My name is Chris Burris, Matt. 

speakerMatt Bertram·29:24


speakerChris Burres·29:25

Bye-bye for now. 

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