Andy Drinkwater


Source: SEOSignalsLab

Pick His Brain!

I’d like to introduce one of our members, Andy Drinkwater, for our next ‘Pick His Brain’ session and I want to thank him for the participation.

Andy is the master of internal linking.

The community also appreciates his publications on the internal linking structure and tangible SEO benefits from them.

If you have any questions related to maximizing on-page efforts, please feel free to pick his brain.

Note: There is a rumor that his ancestors were very thirsty.

Here are the rules.

1) I’ll let the thread go on until he asks me to stop. Theoretically, this thread can continue until the FaceBook stock value goes to zero.

2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity. We are here to learn from each other’s success and strategies.

3) Please do not PM him and bother him. If you have a private question, ask for his permission on this thread when appropriate.


Table of Contents

Do you have a resource center where you post your internal linking strategies?

I have completed a comprehensive blog post that has just about everything needed in it

On my web site (created on weebly) like many others that sport a menu on every page (with links to every page on the site) isn’t internal linking a given? Don’t these menu links count as internal links?

They do count as internal links, but in terms of the value and benefit they pass, it is zero.

Google doesn’t look at a menu and see anything of benefit.

There is no context surrounding the links as you will get from something well placed in a page.

Half the people I talk to say use internal links like wikipedia – the other half says use sculpted siloed links. What is your take?

I go with what works – sometimes it is a silo, sometimes you can use a flat structure and create a silo of your own.

It depends on the site, but you *must* use good keywords as these are a key part to the strategy.

When it comes to anchors – i know we can use partial, branded, exact, partial branded and so on – is there are best practice to really move the needle?

I give examples on here of how I use the keywords for a site:…/…

How do you determine a link structure for a site? Any specific tools to help you?


— URL Profiler

— Screaming Frog

— OnCrawl

— Ahrefs

You can find the full list here and how I use them.…/…

What internal linking strategies would you recommend to drive more traffic to other landing pages?

I would be optimising those pages to rank better in Google.

Most people aren’t going to follow an internal link just because it is there, so don’t count on them, although you will find some use them.

Go for long tail if there is a lot of competition or if the site isn’t as strong as the competitors.

Gather up all that low hanging fruit

What is the best way to get the most advantage of internal linking from the beginning?

From the very beginning, you will benefit the most from creating your site structure the most, as it is unlikely you will see huge gains without strong source pages.

So spend the time deciding on what will go where, create silos if you think the site will benefit from them and decide on the keywords you are going to go after.

There is no harm in adding the internal links as they will benefit you as the site grows.

Do you create anchors for location based services using the city only or the keyword only? Or do you use a combo – for example: “Dallas property management company”.

I would use a combination for all scenarios.

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So I might use “Dallas property management company”, “Dallas property company”, “Local Dallas property management company”, etc.

For ecommerce – for product pages – if they ALL link to their parent category and manufacturer/brand pages with exact same anchor text could this hinder? On sites with thousands of products under the same category – how to properly link to the category to get the full benefit?

No, this is generally not an issue.

The only time you need to worry about this is if lots of the anchors are spammy or clearly money terms and then, they wouldn’t be from the menus/product pages.

To get the best benefit for any site, ideally, you will have a number of strong source pages for each silo’d area that you are pushing.

Getting the links into those source pages can be the challenge though as you need to really have some good content to support them.

Have you ever seen a case of over using internal links? I have a site im workong who has 554 internal links for one article according to GWT but each page typically has 25 to 30 interlinks.

I have, but it depends where they’re coming from.

Can you ever over optimize by using exact match internal anchors?

Yes, I have seen this happen.

If you want to rank the homepage of a partial match domain ( for Chicago plumbers, would you recommend internally linking heavily with exact anchor “Chicago plumbers”?

I might go about this a different way and give that phrase to an internal page.

Getting a homepage to rank for some phrases like this doesn’t always work as they become spammy and there is no brand – especially for big terms.

Is it a good idea to use the main money keywords or services in the footer of a website so that it gets maximum link juice?

No, menu links (top or bottom) do nothing for an internal linking campaign.

All they do is dilute the page more.

You are going to get your benefit from context links that have good supporting content.

Is it possible to over-optimise internal links, if that used in menu or footer section?

You can’t really over-optimise a menu but what is can do.

When you get down to ‘page rank sculpting’, is devalue the power pages have to offer.

If the page is linked through the menu, does it change the internal link structure what you mentioned in your blog post section “Which keywords to use and how often”?

No, menus don’t really count when it comes to adding internal links.

There is no context like you will get with a strong internal link from a page with very relevant content.

I heard that someone said, that for internal linking just the first link in the page counts for the anchor tag for the same URL. For example, the page link is in the menu and then in the content to make a variation, that means that the menu anchor will be counted and the content anchor ignored? Or another example, that in the content are used two different anchors for the same URL and only first on the page is content? Is this true or false?

Quite false, although there are diminishing returns from what I have seen when testing these.

I always try to make sure that my strongest links are towards the top of the page, as this makes sense.

But you will still get benefit from additional links in an article going to different pages.

And if the article will support it, there is no real reason why you can’t have to similar anchors going to the same page.

But they would have to be similar and not just shoe-horned in

What do you recommend for sites that have a lot of city pages? If a site has 50 city pages, how would you interlink the 50 city pages to each other?

I would try to avoid lots of inter-linking between all of those pages.

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All this is going to do is confuse matters – unless, of course, the page calls for it and it makes sense for the user.

Would you then just use one link on each city page back to the homepage? I want the city pages to rank in these areas. For example: city page, for Miami plumbers, Orlando plumbers, Fort Lauderdale plumbers.

You will need to make sure you have enough content to power all of those pages because just linking between them all, won’t do anything much for you.

A large website with zero internal links as found on screaming frog, is that bad? What’s a good way to get started?

The document here will give you everything you need to get started on a good internal linking campaign

How do you manage internal linking for multi niches websites. Do you “in purpose” creates some supporting articles for each niche and setup the internal links on them?

Yes, I would be looking to setup silos to keep a degree of separation between them all.

You don’t really want links from a page about ‘bathroom showers’ going to a page about ‘garden products’.

Occasionally, there are times when an overlap makes sense though, so it isn’t a hard and fast rule.

How many supporting content pages do you create in order to boost a hub page?

It depends, Thomas. I have seen a boost with as little as 4 internal links, and at the other end I have had to go as far as 30-40 to see some movement.

It depends on the term, source pages and how well the internal link campaign has been implemented.

Have you seen any difference in the value an internal link passes when the wordcount of the supporting article is a higher or lesser amount?

Not really when you only look at the word count, but certainly with the quality of the content.

How do you get good links for boring local service companies like plumbers, drywallers, cleaners and carpenters?

Link building and internal linking are quite different, but I would look at a campaign of content and video.

Lots of social shares and useful DIY information always works for me

Is the linking still works .. we will get results with back links ..If yes how may .. Can you please suggest me what type of back links are good.

I’m sorry, I am not able to state which links are good and bad. There are so many factors to take into account.

If important pages are linked in main navigation so on every page is there any benefit to repeating them within page content? Do search engine like multiple duplicate internal links or consider them over done?

You get no contextual benefit from a menu link – it is a means to an end and nothing more.

If you want to show some real benefit to Google, then internal anchors are a must. But they must be done in such a way as to be natural.

You wouldn’t use the same anchor in some content as you had in a menu link.

For a very large site, is having a sitemap footer link on every page that links to all pages important or does that instead drains link juice?

No need to have a sitemap footer link.

An unnecessary one that does nothing for UX or Google

How would you go about setting up the internal linking for a 6 page, 1500 word local rank and rent website for a doctor?

With only 6 pages, you are going to really struggle.

I would suggest you start getting some content into the site as this is what is going to feed your hub pages.


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