Internal linking is a key part of on-site SEO and can have an impact on how your site does (or doesn't) rank.
While links are not specifically theme-related, this does impact how people build their categories, homepage and their content.
The purpose of this document is to provide a general overview - baseline knowledge - and concepts that can then be further researched.
Every site is unique and we can not provide site-specific advice for this. If you follow these guidelines (and do your research) you'll be in a good position. If you need a site-specific audit, we recommend Mediawyse and TopHatRank.
Link equity (or "link juice") is not a real thing. But it's still important. This is a confusing paradox and it's best to just accept it and move on.
Each link counts as a "vote" for another page, and some "votes" are worth more than others.
Don't devote too much time to obsessing over this (known as "link sculpting") - this is a dead practice.
Links from your homepage (or any high authority page) provide the most link equity.
This is why it's key to link to your top content from the homepage and not simply display the most recent posts (like the themes used to do).
Follow the Modern Homepage tutorial to set up your homepage.
Position on page
Links at the top of content pass higher link equity than links further down the post.
This is why "trending" recipes belongs at the top of the Modern Homepage - boosting those recipes is your main priority.
The reason for this is that Google knows that every user will see links and items above the fold (or very close), but the viewability of content drops significantly as you scroll.
This is especially true for mobile (80% of pageviews), where the sidebar is basically non existent because it's so far down the page.
Manually throwing in a list of 4-5 links at the end of a post is better than nothing, but is still a poor practice.
The best links are individually placed within relevant paragraphs where there is context surrounding the link.
Manually curated links, to related content, from within actual post content (eg. paragraphs) gets higher link equity than links just thrown on the page arbitrarily.
This is because the content around the link provides clues as to what it's about. The heading above, paragraph surrounding, and images near a link provide higher link equity. This is true for Google because it's true of visitors on your site.
A list of links (eg. "Related Posts") is much lower quality than a link placed manually into the content. Especially if this block is near the bottom of the post (as it should be).
The highest value links are manually inserted into relevant content. Sites that do this will outperform sites that don't.
Links that appear sitewide, such as those in the menu, sidebar and breadcrumbs, are a signal to search engines that you believe these links are important.
This is because these are the links that your readers are going to see, and interact with, most often.
This is why your "Trending" and "Seasonal" recipes are linked to from the Modern Sidebar.
Anchor text is incredibly important to provide search engines, normal readers, and accessible visitors with context about what the page being linked to is about.
"Read more" is one of the worst SEO and user experience things ever built - we simply didn't know better in 2015 - but there's zero excuse to be using this anywhere on your site in 2021.
Repeating the same link 4-5 times (as the "featured posts" widget does in all themes) in a short period or on the same page provides no benefit.
It's actually very poor accessibility. Because search engines care about accessibility, this may actually negatively impact you.
In the Modern Homepage vs. Theme Homepage we outlined a number of similar issues.
The FSRI block used for the Modern Homepage is intentionally designed with a single link and proper anchor text.
There's a soft limit to how many links Google will crawl or index on a page.
This does not mean that you should be trying to count links on your webpage.
What it means is that there's no benefit to adding links for the sake of adding links. Don't just throw 100 links on the homepage or the sidebar or at the bottom of a post because you think it's doing something.
There's simply no reasonable user-first way of doing this while following context and position on page (see above). The exception to this may be listicles (eg. "top 25 recipes for X") and the recipe index.
We generally recommend keeping the homepage to 50-60 posts maximum.
Past that point, you should be building a proper site structure using categories or indexes (if > 500 posts).
Previous + Next
The Modern Previous + Next is recommend as a safeguard against lack of internal linking, as it provides relevant links to other posts within a category. This can boost click-through-rates relative to the original themes previous+next, and can increase visitor engagement and pages-per-session.
Google has a "topical" understanding of a page, and will happily link to sections within a page (known as page anchors) if these are well curated.
This means that a post with a topic about "potato salad" has sub-topics that are important to readers, such as:
Use the Advanced Jump To block to better organic your content and generate additional links in Google.
Follow the Modern Guidelines for Page Headings to maximize this.
Note: links to page anchors (sections of the content) count as links for the page itself, not as unique links within that page.
Broken links are defined as those that:
- link to something that no longer exist
- point to a URL that redirects to another page
These negatively impact SEO because they negatively impact your visitors.
Use the broken link checker plugin to monitor internal links and replace them with working links (or remove them).