Christoph C. Cemper: Improve Your Rankings With Internal Link Building And No Headaches

Listen to Christoph C. Cemper explain how to improve rankings using internal link building, a practice that is often overlooked and undervalued. Check out his live recording at BrightonSEO April 2019, followed by his slides and transcript below.

Christoph C. Cemper's Transcript

Hello folks, it's great to be here. I'm going to talk about how to improve your rankings with internal link building and no headaches. It's great to be back, who of you thinks that BrightonSEO is an amazing conference and comes here every time, can I see a show of hands? Oh, I expected a couple more. I'm Christoph C. Cemper, father of two, founder, author, trainer, data geek, speaker, developer. I've been working in SEO and links for 16 years. Actually accidentally, I also run a charity conference called LRTcon that donated 43,000 euros this year, already and that's yes, 43 thousand euros and a bit. It's roughly thirty-eight thousand pounds for children for an SEO sale. A very popular event in the German market and we're still looking for sponsors for 2020 at I'm very proud about this result obviously, that's why I bring this up first. Back to the topic, internal links are often overlooked, and I found this out preparing these slides on my own websites. The challenges with internal links our multitude.

Challenge number one, is combining all these different link scopes. What I mean by different link scopes is that there are actually multiple types of link scopes. External links, everyone knows, you know when you talk about link building, when you talk about link audit, when you talk about Google Penguin, all these things are external links. Internal links, on the other hand. Is what we consider links on However, links that are on my other subdomains like or even on my friend’s web sites - very close friends or maybe my other country TLD domains. We call network domains those are different scopes by my definition, looking at all these different scopes and differentiating them and thinking about that there is a difference actually, between a link from a subdomain to my main domain, compared to just being on the same domain is one challenge. Combining all of this in a database, in a system, in an excel sheet, in an audit. It's like switching from a great flat TV in normal link analysis to 3D vision or virtual reality. I had a lot of "wow's" a lot of this can't be true effects, because usually those external links bring your power and trust to the website. They push the rankings, whatever you hear on some tweets or some people talking about a linked list Google algorithm. The truth is Google is being driven by links, external links to your website. If you have a website without links chances are it, probably won't rank well for any competitive terms, whatever you put on it.

However, the network subdomain and internal links distributed in there. So, all the great links of the world inside going into your website. If those links are not utilised good enough or if the link power that comes in is not utilised good enough by internal linking, you can also suffer. And those internal links allow you to not only target a lot more keywords with a lot more aggression, if you want, or let's say over emphasis. Of course, we can control our websites, we can go and change our internal link structure. Suddenly, 400 links have a new anchor text. Suddenly, 450 links go through another target page. This is totally under-utilised by our SEOs in many cases so we can get more aggressive, if we want to.

The learning is, I found a lot of those things not being done. And, yeah internal links being under-utilised including my own website. You'll see some examples, has this problem, just like BrightonSEO where you see a lot of the links internally, and you know when you look at this this keyword cloud you see the blue, being the external links for a brand BrightonSEO and the purple ones being the internal links. Very obvious, you see code of conduct, terms and condition and privacy policy not being those keywords. That Kelvin wants to rank for by the way, sorry for this typo here Kelvin, terms and conditions is not a keyword phrase, that you should emphasize on your internal link structure.  So, for example here, you could just create one page or one category page where these three types of legal documents are combined together. I'm not talking about no following internal links, I'm talking about the number of links here, the strength of the total link graph here is. The strongest one goes to terms and conditions, code of conduct and privacy policy. Link Detox has the same problem, plans and prices. Of course, I want people to find my plans and prices but when you look at other keyword phrases, here like link, about unity audit, Link Detox Tune, you linked it extrema. who knows what Link Detox Tune does? it's a brand or a sub brand phrase that is only being searched by people, who are already exposed to the brand, who know the brand while there are other ways to describe what it does, adapt link building for competitive niches for example we'll see that.

Challenge number three is actionability and mindset. Of course, we need to do something and change branded phrases, or even other keyword phrases "click here" and "read more" - too generic, explanatory phrases this is what I call money phrases or commercial phrases. And, you'll see some examples, where you say oh that's probably too much, we shouldn't overdo this. Let that sink in for a moment because I want to put this into relation to what we see later on. But you can change your internal link structure, from very branded phrase or sub branded phrases to very commercial generic phrases. In a very simple way, here's a footer navigation on one website on, actually. Where you see all these subs branded phrases, just replacing them with something that is natural, more natural language like understand competitor SEO, or speed up Google penalty recovery or ever your links fast in a link audit. It's very different to what we just had before with link detox screener it just talks, and so a visitor and this is important, visiting the website would also have an easier navigation. So, the overall UX on the website, will also improve but these keywords that we have here, the linking keywords, the anchor texts that we use, suddenly give those internal links the relevance they need, instead of pushing brand names that nobody knows about, or that nobody knows yet, because they were not exposed to it. Going for money keywords throughout the whole site is the objective, and that means to start adding money keywords to all internal links, where feasible. Where is it feasible? How do we do it?

I give you another online marketing conference as an example, in Austria. This is German but you will get the point. You have external in blue SEOkomm linked with a brand phrase, you have a lot of other brand phrases linked externally. And internally you have technically strategy eCommerce; you have very generic categories of what is being spoken about there. I would even advise to maybe add SEO to these keywords like make those internal linking, say SEO strategy, eCommerce SEO and technically SEO because that's what the talks are really about. But what's even more important, they have the speaker names here from popular speakers on their landing pages and on their internal link structures and these are the commercial keywords that they want to rank for. Kelvin does the same here but he has the talk here the talk included in the internal linking and five years of Google Penguin was popular two years ago when I spoke on this stage actually but my name is kind of inflated, with that looking at, a little bit deeper you see there is a variation for my name Christoph Kemper is available here. So, that's not all bad. All I'm saying is that this is to be improved it can be improved and it could be a lot worse, like not having the speaker names at all on the internal link structure through this the conference lives with the speaker. So, people would Google for speakers and then eventually find the conference.

I’ll give an example from a locksmith site in Austria, that has a very very aggressive internal linking on all money keywords. All of these keywords here, are locksmith related commercial keywords, everything in purple is just internally and you see under on this data table here. We are on page one, all of these are internal links and only on page number thirteen, the external links pop up for the brand name called, that's the name of the company with a little bit of money keywords externally but you see ten links it's not overdone, it in fact is it a 1:8 relation. Other observations I found on this website is actually not really link related but I wanted to bring it up. This is what the home page looks like, this little cartoon and down here the blue bar is the navigation. They're forcing the user when he hits the website to actually go below the fold. Everyone hitting that website needs to scroll down, they probably try clicking on this character. But they stay longer on that website, I felt that an interesting thing to share when you scroll down, you'll see very obvious spammy keywords linked. It looks like this, if these would be external links, you would call it - linkspam or overdone, and I would do the same. This is what it looks internally, they link to every district in Vienna by the district number, the district code number, they link to every district by the name of that district and all the combinations of district numbers and names and the money keywords again, in the footer link, it's really... tough. Do you think this looks too spammy? I don't know. For 61 number one rankings, for all these money keywords, with very little external links, good high quality, external links. And, this on page I was surprised to find that.

Of course, this is just one niche and the rules are different in every country, in every language and in every industry, even for a keyword class that the rules might be different. So, be advise, researching your niche is very very important, don't take this as a rule of thumb to do this for any client or all your websites I just wanted to bring this up because it's a very very aggressive internal linking that I found here, to make the point that we are missing this for example so for instance on we have automatically linked all the blog posts. This one here is how to use the Google disavow links tool ok, very good, money keyword phrase, not so good money keyword phrases, here are very very long.. six reasons this, seventh secret, SEO tools is that nobody searches for where. I advise to just rethink the internal linking to your blog and maybe think about adding some custom attributes for one internal link from the footer and navigation. Another internal link from sidebar navigation or some widgets or the header navigation, who says that one blog post only gets one type of link. In general, I would advise you to ask in the next SEO meeting do you think we're aggressive enough on our internal linking? Or are we considering this at all to optimise? Some tools that you could use as a free link checker, a browser extension that we built last year, for Chrome or Firefox that you can download at this URL or by just googling LRT link checker it allows you to do a lot of checking of external internal or root domain links on a page on a single page you can see how we split all of these up and every click here, every button here, I could talk about for another 20 minutes, if you want to learn more about this just come to our booth or right in the front entrance next to our friends at pitch books and or download it and check it out for yourself but it's a combination of two or three other extensions, like our link redirect trace extension is also replacing three or four other extensions, this one is also very very versatile and comprehensive also when it comes to exporting the data.

WordPress, who of you is using WordPress, hands up? Lots of you! Has tons of extensions, and this is one example creative minds has a glossary plugin creating a glossary is one thing, making sure that it gets properly linked from everyone on the website is one key functionally a basic functionality of such plugins usually. What it does is when you have some glossary content for instance here for the word disavow or disavow file, it looks for occurrences of that word in the content. Then once or twice or depending on the configuration replaces that word with a link and a pop-up for users to see that declaration for the definition of the word but also with a link. So, use create automatically, one or two relevant links to your glossary or wiki, if you want, and this is just one way to do it. Of course, you might argue oh I don't want all these internal links to your wiki but we found that to be a very very good way to educate users in the first place. Educated users are better converting on the actual commercial content on the sales page and yeah, some of these plugins including this one of course allows you to add multiple internal links. So not all the links go to the glossary page. Our new link detox part also has a lot of functionality for internal links so some of the screenshots you saw come from it and we just launched a new entry level pricing for our beta group and plan to launch this to the public in the next two or three months. So, there is a good audience in applied beta and it's very happy with a new convenient interface, and a lot more data and the automated advisory that you saw. By the way, Kelvin looking at your back-links. We found that measured by link risk especially that cause that was talking about advanced link building here, has a pretty high- link risk and a lot more of those could mean that the overall risk on the website gets to risky and that could mean a penalty. However, problem links build up over time, you don't need to freak out if you have one or two problem links. All of these things build up over time and can be tackled over time. Yeah soon enough, Kelvin can smile again.

What I recommend to all of you is, test to learn but also maybe to make mistakes and undo all of the changes that we do in SEO can be undone and this is true also for over optimizations, there is no penalty that doesn't go away and for the last three years especially, a lot of over optimizations can be undone and be fixed within days. Build links, change links, externally and internally especially and just do it. “DIFN” is my favourite acronym, standing for do it freaking now. This is what I suggest, some of you may be do go back to your hotel room and you know change your footer links change them tomorrow or change them next week again, just consider this being a moving target. You see Google and users respond to it but take action to that don't overthink. That's of course, easier in small organizations than larger organizations. Yo close this the best links you can get are the ones that your competitors cannot get. I've been saying this for many many years. This is my recommendation, still today. You can find them not only by paying an exclusivity fee, you can find them in your network. Remember the four types of link scopes, on your subdomains, on your own site and also using the Google site command. That's a very common trick or method. Or you can use the SERP tool that we had in link research tools for many years to do one thing, ask Google which pages of this domain are relevant for my keywords but maybe don't have the links and then when you resort the whole query by the number of links, you suddenly find out where you want to place the links to those, that are so relevant to push them more. This is possible, with a couple clicks and here is an example from our German home page being of course, very well linked but not so relevant for that keyword. Makes sense to have the home page to link to that sub-page but only take the low-risk links. I spoke a little bit, about the risk evaluation which is our core business and there's a possibility to simulate that risk. A lot of you may not notice, but if we can calculate the risk of a link that's there. If we have the link detox profile the whole backing profile as complete as it gets, we can also simulate the risk of a link before it's there, before you build it, if you have a hundred options to get a link from we can tell you these five will be great for you these ten will kill you and everything in between. Yeah and that soon everywhere in link research shows the slides you get at this link ask me anything here or at the booth. Thank you very much, it's worth 20 minutes, seriously. Thank you.


Christoph C. Cemper

Christoph C. Cemper

Christoph is the founder and CEO of LinkResearchTools (LRT). He is a digital marketing enthusiast, that built a specialised software product (SaaS) for link analysis in search engine optimization.