How To Identify “Bad” Internal Links Quickly

The following case study was provided by Jared Bauman of WeekendGrowth.com

In my years of SEO experience, I’ve learned that internal linking can be vital in growing a website’s organic visibility. Even with that knowledge, it’s easy to let internal linking fall to the back burner. As publishing and marketing efforts get busier, it’s far easier to let someone else handle the internal linking or avoid it altogether. 

Today, I want to share an example of where that had happened. 

Backstory

May 2022. Yet another Google Update , but this one had hit my site. I lost over 50% of my traffic overnight. It was time to roll up my sleeves and determine what was wrong and what I needed to fix on the website. 

Since then, I’ve written quite a bit about this on my blog at Weekend Growth. There were a lot of areas that needed improvement, and one of them was my internal linking. More notably, I had found a glut of irrelevant internal links scattered across the site.

Most websites have the occasional internal link that doesn’t quite hit the mark, but the problem was widespread in my case. I realized I had to delete 818 internal links, and I’m here to share how I did it using Link Whisper.

 

Identifying “Bad” Internal Links

First, it’s important to understand and define what constitutes a “bad” or “non-helpful” internal link. For me; there are three key culprits:

1. Non-Related URLs

Internal links work best when they’re linked from related content. Ideally, they should be within the same topical silo. While the occasional link between unrelated topics isn’t a disaster, it rarely provides beneficial internal linking opportunities

For example, if my article is about trucks, internal links from other articles on trucks are the most relevant. Internal links from articles on other types of cars are still relevant but not as relevant. 

Internal links from articles on airplanes are even less relevant. You get the point. 

In my case, these non-related links made up a worryingly high percentage of my total internal links.

2. Non-Relevant Anchor Text

Anchor text in an internal link refers to the clickable text hyperlinking to another page within the same website.

The anchor text for internal links is critical. It helps Google better understand the linked article and improve your ranking for those terms. 

In my previous example about trucks, an internal link with the anchor text “when flying through space” makes zero sense.

As I dug into my site, I found excessive random, nonsensical anchor text that provided no context to the linked article.

3. Generic Anchor Text

This one is similar to non-relevant anchor text but slightly different. I discovered many single-word anchor text links on my site, which can lead to confusion for Google. 

In my example, if your article is about trucks and you use the anchor text “trucks” to reference your article, that isn’t very descriptive. And if you have multiple articles on different things about trucks, then this will cause a lot of confusion for Google. 

According to research done by Cyrus Sheppard at Zyppy, “The relationship between anchor text variety of internal links and Google search clicks was so strong that we ran the data three times. URLs with a larger number of anchor text variations from internal links are highly correlated with more Google search traffic.”

Each article should have specific, descriptive anchor text to avoid this problem. I had this issue in abundance.

Using Link Whisper to Delete and Adjust Internal Links

Once I’d identified these issues, I had a daunting task ahead of me. Many of my internal links were effective but needed removing or adjusting. Fortunately, Link Whisper turned a potential headache into a manageable task. 

Here’s how I used Link Whisper to identify and remove internal links: 

Step 1: Review Your Links and Anchor Text

Link Whisper lets you easily view which articles link to a specific URL and what anchor text they’re using. 

  1. Go to Link Whisper / Link Report
  2. From here, pick an article and open the drop-down next to “Add”
  3. You’ll be able to see every internal link pointing to that article and the anchor text used
Link Whisper Link Report To View Anchor Text

Use this feature to identify any irrelevant, non-related, or generic anchor text causing issues.

Step 2: Delete or Adjust Internal Links

Once you’ve identified the problem links, you can delete them by simply checking a box in Link Whisper. I deleted internal links from other articles that were not relevant. 

Link Whisper Anchor Text

If the link is relevant but the anchor text is the problem, you can quickly adjust it to something more appropriate. Click “edit” and change the anchor text to something more relevant.

Step 3: Rinse and Repeat

Go through your entire site systematically. This process can take time, but it’s worth it. Remember, quality over quantity is the key with internal linking.

Results

Good news! My website started its recovery during the April 2023 Google Reviews Update. 

Now the website is nowhere near the traffic highs it experienced before getting hit by the update. However, after the April 2023 update, organic traffic is up 138%. So that is a very positive sign. 

Updating my internal links wasn’t the only thing I did – it was part of a larger strategy to improve the website. Here is a high-level overview of the updates I made to the website posts

  • Shorten Paragraphs and Sentences
  • Update Titles for a Better Click-Through Rate
  • Add FAQs, Videos, Charts, Bullet Points, and Unique Images
  • Redo Introductions to be more captivating

To be fair, there are many other things I should be doing to update the content. But, these updates yielded positive results.

Conclusion

In my experience, Link Whisper is a powerful tool for managing internal links. It not only helps add relevant internal links but can also help you identify orphan pages on your site. It also makes it incredibly easy to delete or adjust them when needed.

I hope my experience encourages you to look closely at your site’s internal linking strategy. A careful audit, followed by the appropriate adjustments, can significantly improve your site’s performance.

Be patient, be thorough, and use the right tools to make the process more manageable.

Good luck!

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