Brighter Messaging
colorful links, internal link building in seo

Internal Link Building in SEO: Our LinkStorm review 

Internal link building is one of the lowest-hanging fruits for small business SEO. You have control of your website and its content, so implementing an internal link-building strategy is generally within reach. There are also some new tools out there to help you with internal linking, like LinkStorm. We recently tested LinkStorm for our business, so read on for the results. 

In case you’re new to the internal linking business…

What is internal linking?

Internal linking refers to the practice of connecting one page of a website to another page within the same website through hyperlinks. 

Why is internal linking important?

Internal linking is important for several reasons, including search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience (spot the internal linking there?).

SEO

Internal linking helps search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your website. When you link related pages together using relevant anchor text (i.e. the clickable text in a hyperlink), it signals to search engines the importance and relationship between those pages. Linking related pages can improve the overall SEO of your website by helping search engines crawl and index your content more effectively. 

Navigation and user experience

Internal links provide a roadmap for users to navigate your website. Strategically placing internal links within your content guides visitors to other relevant pages on your site, keeping them engaged and encouraging them to explore more of your content—all of which helps reduce bounce rates and increases the likelihood of conversions.

Distributing page authority

By linking from high-authority pages to lower-authority ones, you can help boost the visibility and ranking potential of those pages. 

Content discoverability and indexation

Internal links ensure that all of your website’s pages are discoverable by search engine crawlers. By linking from high-traffic pages to newer or less visible ones, you can ensure that those pages are crawled and indexed by search engines, improving their visibility in search results.

Internal linking best practices

  • Add internal links that add value to the user experience, fitting naturally into the context of the content.
  • Use descriptive anchor text to provide users and search engines with clear context for the linked page.
  • Vary anchor text to avoid repetition.
  • Prioritize important links at the tops of pages for better visibility and hierarchy.
  • Regularly audit and update internal links to avoid broken links and maintain SEO integrity.
  • Keep internal linking reasonable in quantity (avoid overstuffing), focusing on spreading links evenly throughout content. 

What is LinkStorm?

Launched in January 2024, LinkStorm is an internal linking tool for publishers and SEOs that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to take the pain out of creating internal links and fixing link issues. LinkStorm helps with multiple components of an internal linking strategy.

  • Get a complete picture of your internal linking: LinkStorm crawls a website’s pages and analyzes the content to produce a comprehensive report on your site’s linking.
  • Find new internal link opportunities: LinkStorm saves you time and effort by suggesting new relevant internal links to add between all pages.
  • Fix internal link issues: LinkStorm helps you find and fix all internal link issues, including broken links, infinite redirections, orphan pages, dead-end pages, etc.
  • Optimize internal link anchors: LinkStorm helps you keep track of the anchors used in your internal linking to make sure you’re not using meaningless anchors.

LinkStorm integrates with Google Search Console, displaying traffic data alongside internal links for optimization insights. It works with any website, regardless of platform, gathering data through crawling and analysis without requiring plugins.

Testing the tool: Our LinkStorm review

First, we added our website and some of our clients’ sites as projects on LinkStorm to get some benchmark results. We then implemented the relevant changes (only those we agreed with) to see what (if any) impact this would have on site performance. 

Brighter Messaging test

Benchmark (April 2024):

The link opportunities are split into:

  • Content similarity: matches the keywords from different pages and uses a complex set of rules based on a word’s proximity and rarity
  • Semantic similarity: uses AI and semantic analysis to “understand” the meaning of the content

Content similarity link opportunities (14)

Here’s how LinkStorm displays its suggestions:

In total, I accepted seven of the 14 identified content similarity link opportunities (50%).

Reasons I rejected suggestions:

  • Already linked to the suggested content elsewhere on the page 
  • Inappropriate placement 
  • Limiting outbound links and indicating hierarchy on primary pages (e.g. I didn’t want to link to a blog on social media from the body text on this primary page
  • Inappropriate suggestion, e.g. I didn’t want to link to LinkedIn content ideas when the highlighted section was talking about Facebook:

Semantic similarity link opportunities (164)

In total, I rejected 126/164 of the semantic similarity suggestions (77%). 

Reasons I rejected suggestions:

  • Already linked to the suggested content elsewhere on the page 
  • Inappropriate or redundant placement 
  • Irrelevant context 
  • Link already exists 

Issues (75)

All of the issues identified on the Brighter Messaging site have to do with redirects. We changed our blog URL structure, so we need to make sure that all blogs contain the new links. 

Client test 

Benchmark (April 2024):

Content similarity link opportunities (274)

I accepted 82 of 274 suggestions (30%).

Reasons I rejected suggestions:

  • Suggested blog is outdated and needs to be deleted
  • Irrelevant or inappropriate suggestion
  • Already linked to the suggested content elsewhere on the page
  • Suggestion links out from a service page to the blog

Semantic similarity link opportunities

I accepted 53 of 274 suggestions (19%).

Reasons I rejected suggestions:

  • Suggested blog is outdated and needs to be updated or deleted
  • Irrelevant or inappropriate suggestion
  • Already linked to the suggested content elsewhere on the page
  • Link has already been added from a content similarity suggestion
  • Suggests links from a service page to the blog
  • Suggests links from the blog page 

Issues (203)

  • 40 broken links
  • 163 redirected links 

Trial results 

Metric – Time saved

When looking for ways to measure and test the results of using Linkstorm, the first one I landed on is the amount of time saved by using the software to add internal links to a new blog. 

When I first got access to the tool, the developers had not yet added this feature. They have since added it, but the mechanism for integrating it with the website is via javascript code. This is a security concern for us, so we did not follow through with installing it on any sites.

I thought I would still see if using the tool saved time, even if I didn’t allow it to automatically add links to the site. However, it appears to require recrawling the entire site before it makes recommendations, which took longer than manually adding internal links the way I have been doing it.

Metric – Time on site 

One of the benefits of an internal linking strategy is getting people to spend more time on your website as they go down the proverbial rabbit hole. Here is how time on site was affected by adding suggested internal links (bearing in mind there are plenty of other variables that could contribute to these numbers).

Site Average engagement time before LinkStormAverage engagement time after LinkStorm
Brighter Messaging55 seconds (March 2024)46 seconds (April)1 minute, 2 seconds (May)
Client1 minute, 3 seconds (March 2024)1 minute, 0 seconds (April)1 minute, 2 seconds (May)

The data here is inconclusive—the Brighter site saw an improvement, while the client site was unchanged. Admittedly, it’s difficult to isolate one factor impacting time on site. 

Metric – Number of pages visited  

Along with spending more time on the site, internal linking also encourages visitors to view more pages as they click from one link to the next. We saw a marginal improvement on each site, but again, it’s difficult to say whether something else was going on here. 

Site Average no. of pages visited before LinkStormAverage no. of pages visited after LinkStorm
Brighter Messaging2.64 (March 2024)2.9 (May 2024)
Client1.32 (March 2024)1.37 (May 2024)

Metric – Organic keywords 

The last metric I decided to use was the number of organic keywords each site is ranking for, as reported by Semrush. For Brighter Messaging, the number seems to have decreased while it increased for our client. Again, somewhat inconclusive but worth monitoring over time.

Site Organic keywords (April 2024) Organic keywords (June 2024) 
Brighter Messaging
Client

Summary 

Best use cases for LinkStorm:

  • New or existing sites without any current internal linking strategy
  • Large websites with multiple internal link opportunities

Features that would be nice to have 

  • Ability to sort and filter the lists by URL so you can tackle all internal linking opportunities on that page at once
  • Website platform integration to allow you to add the links directly on the website back-end without inserting javascript
  • The ability to export data and tables
  • Ability to mark issues complete once they’ve been addressed
  • Ensure it’s obvious how to accept/reject suggestions when the Google Search Console toggle is on (right now it requires a long scroll to the right)
  • Option to only crawl specific pages, sections, or folders of a website (I’m told this is possible by adding a sub-path to the domain, but that’s not explained anywhere)

As we’ve discussed before, internal linking is an important part of a healthy SEO strategy. I think the idea and basic functionality of LinkStorm is good and has potential. But unfortunately, at this time, the jury is still out on whether or not it will provide enough value, without risks, to justify the purchase.

And even if future iterations turn LinkStorm into one of my recommended SEO tools, like everything AI, you still need the human touch. The tool may make incorrect suggestions, get you to add too many links, and doesn’t take page priority and recency into account. Always ensure you’re following internal linking best practices and catering to the human user. 

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