Internal linking has a strange place in the SEO world.
Unlike AI-generated content or trying to optimize for EAT, it’s not newsworthy. Google doesn’t release updates about it often, and the best link practices doc they updated earlier this year didn’t exactly make waves.
On-page SEO checkers, like SEMrush’s, don’t put much focus on it either, probably because there isn’t a straightforward way to report on it. It’s easy for them to say whether or not a title tag is of adequate length, how often the target keyword appears on the page, or whether the alt tags are present on all of your images, but breaking down your internal link structure into an actionable metric is a much bigger challenge. So most of them just skip it.
At Contractor Calls, we’ve run enough experiments to know that a good internal link structure can make a world of difference for your SEO, and it’s particularly powerful for home service businesses and contractors. Here’s why.
1. It’s a great way to cover multiple services and cities more effectively
Bay-Valley Painting is a full-service painting contractor in Contra Costa County. In addition to exterior and interior home painting, they also offer commercial service, cabinet painting and refinishing, and fence and deck staining and painting. Multiply that by their roughly 18 target cities, and we’re talking about roughly 100 distinct combinations of service + city.
Frankly, creating a page for each of those 100 keyword combinations isn’t feasible. Quality diminishes quickly if you try to cover that much ground, and it’s a great way to spread your site’s link value too thin.
That’s why we decided the best approach was to create one global content block for all of their services and another for their service area. By embedding all of the services on each city page, and the service area block on every city AND service page, it links them together in a clear, straightforward way. That sends strong signals to Google that all services are offered in all of their service areas. If a city needs a little more help ranking for one of those other services, then we can simply add a short content section and link off to the appropriate service page.
Because the sections are global, they’re also extremely easy to maintain. So if the client ever wants to add another service, we simply add it to the global service block and it immediately appears on pages throughout their site. Pretty neat, right?
2. It’s a great way to pass link value to relevant pages
Building external inbound links is tricky business, but it’s the backbone of any real SEO campaign.
The hard part is getting those links to reach the pages that matter. For example, building links to Orange County Cable Railing’s blog about “6 breathtaking rooftop bars in Orange County” is relatively easy, since it’s relevant to travel blogs, lifestyle blogs, and all of the bars mentioned in the article itself. But even if that article ranks first and earns a thousand visitors a month, that doesn’t mean they’re going to turn into customers.
That’s what pages like their Irvine, CA page are for. Good luck getting anyone to link to that, though.
But what about building links from the blog to their Irvine page? Well that’s extremely easy. Since we listed the address of each of the bars, it’s simple to link the city names back to the relevant city pages. That tells Google exactly which pages are the most relevant for cities like Irvine, and helps pass some of the link value from the article to the city pages.
3. It’s a great way to show off your best assets
At Contractor Calls, we generally separate our clients into two camps: industries focused on design, like remodeling, and industries focused on service, like HVAC.
For design-focused clients, their best assets tend to be their photos. Businesses like Andrew G Construction tend to generate more leads when people actually visit their photo gallery, since their work really does speak for itself. So for them, driving more users to visit their gallery is a worthwhile goal.
One of the ways we do that is to embed global blocks throughout their site that feature a few of their best photos, with a link back to the gallery page. Using global content blocks means we can periodically switch the images out or add new images when they’re available, and then they’re automatically updated throughout the site. That helps keep things fresh, even for repeat visitors, without too much additional overhead.
For service-focused clients, their best assets tend to be their reviews. Since most people can’t just look at a water heater and see if it was installed correctly, they rely more on reviews to understand how the business operates, what to expect from them, and how they handle unsatisfied customers. So for service-focused clients, we prioritize embedding reviews throughout their site, usually with colorful backgrounds and other attention-grabbing features. These reviews all link back to a central reviews page, which then also links off to all of their 3rd party review profiles on Google, Yelp, Houzz, and more. Since users who see those reviews are significantly more likely to turn into paying customers, funneling as many people as possible into that page is a winning play.
4. It’s a great way to index new content faster
Another big benefit of a strong internal link structure is that it helps support new content. While Google does check sitemaps submitted to Search Console to find new content, it’s much faster if you link to new content from high-traffic pages.
That’s just one of the reasons that Viking Pavers links to their most recent blog post from the home page. Even though the link is most of the way down the page (and fairly understated), that link helps Google find and index new blogs a couple of days after they’re published. Without that link, it could easily take a couple of weeks. Setting up good taxonomies (categories and tags) can also help with the discovery process.
How to Get Better at Internal Link Building
One of the reasons that internal link building is largely overlooked, or at least downplayed in SEO, is because there is no straightforward way to improve it. Yoast’s guide to internal link building is a great place to start, but ultimately it comes down to the unique goals of your business, the platform and theme driving your site (and whether or not it offers tools like global content blocks), and what kind of resources you’re putting into your ongoing SEO.
For home service businesses and contractors, though, there are a few good places to start:
- Develop a hub-and-spoke page structure between your service area and city pages. They should always link between each other.
- Develop strong pages for your best assets, like reviews and image galleries. Then link to them from anywhere they might be relevant.
- Link from your high-traffic pages (and articles) to your high-value pages. Every article doesn’t need to link to every page, but a couple of links here and there can add up quickly.
- Take advantage of global content sections if they’re available. When you can update the internal links that appear on dozens of pages, all at once, that can be a big time saver.
- Walk through your site as a regular user, or stand over someone else’s shoulder while they’re visiting your site for the first time. Take note of how easy it is to visit (or completely miss) your best assets and make the appropriate changes.
- Try not to change your URLs once they’re live. And if you do need to change them, use a plugin like Redirection to make sure you don’t lead users to a dead end. Also update your links to the actual destination page, since redirects can lose link value.