The Ultimate Guide to Internal Link Building in Ahrefs

Ahrefs is one of the most powerful internal linking tools on the market.

How powerful?
With Ahrefs internal links feature, you can identify broken internal links, gain insight into your competitors’ internal link strategy, and transfer authority from one page to another.

However, most people haven’t explored all the different ways to find internal linking opportunities in this SEO tool.

This ultimate guide will walk you through 4 ways to use Ahrefs to fix internal linking issues on your site and show you 4 techniques you can apply to find internal linking opportunities.

This Article Contains:

(Click on the links below to jump to a specific section)

Internal Backlinks Report Overview

To solve minor technical issues on your site with Ahrefs, you’ll need to get familiar with the Internal Backlink report

So follow us and let us give you the grand tour!

Ahrefs’ Internal Backlinks report shows pages from your domain that link to the same domain. This report can help you find broken internal links and give you insight into your competitors’ internal linking strategy without using a Site Audit tool like Screaming Frog.

internal backlinks report in ahrefs

Here’s how to use it:
Enter a URL or domain into Site Explorer and hit the “Internal Backlinks” report in the left sidebar to get started.

For example, we wanted to see all the internal links that Ahrefs’ blog has, so we entered “” into Site Explorer and got this Overview report

site explorer report overview for the ahrefs blog

Next, we hit the “Internal Backlinks” report on the left, and here’s the report we got:

internal backlinks report for the ahrefs blog

Here’s a breakdown of this report:

  • Referring page: Shows you the title and URL of the page that contains a link to your target website or URL.
  • Anchor and backlink: Shows the target url,  internal anchor text and the surrounding text of the backlink.

Additionally, it also shows other metrics like:

  • UR: A page-level metric that shows you the strength of a page’s link profile on a 100-point scale. 
  • Domains: Shows the number of unique referring domains linking to the referring page.
  • Ext: Shows you the number of outbound links (external link) from the referring page.
  • Traffic: The referring page’s estimated monthly organic traffic from search.
  • Kw: Shows the number of keywords that the referring page ranks for in the top 100 organic search results.
  • Anchor and backlink: Shows the internal anchor text, surrounding text of the backlink, and URL.

Here’s a breakdown of the filters you get:

  • Group Similar: Shows you unique internal links only. Links with the same link anchor text and “surrounding text” will be grouped together.
  • All: See all the internal links pointing at your target, which is helpful if you want to work with large data sets.
  • Link Type: This filter can apply to either a metric, the referring page, or the anchor and surrounding text. Here are some of the link types you can select: educational, governmental, content, nofollow, dofollow, etc.
  • Platform: Shows you what kind of platform the referring page is. For example, an Ecommerce site, blog, message board, etc.
  • Language: The language the referring page is written in. 
  • Traffic: Lets you organize your data set by organic traffic.
  • Include and Exclude: You can use this filter to see internal links from your target. To do this, add the URL to a blog in the Include filter’s search bar, and set the filter to search within the URLs of the referring pages. This filter comes in handy if you want to audit a single page.

For example, we entered the URL of Ahrefs’ guide on internal links for SEO into the Include filter and set it to search only within the list of URLs of the referring pages.

And here’s the report we got:

internal links report for Ahrefs' guide on internal links for SEO

And like we said before, you don’t need to run full crawls to get an understanding of your SEO issues with this report since Ahrefs’ bots have already done it for you.

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Next, we’ll take a look at the technical SEO issues you can fix with the Internal Backlinks report.

4 Ways You Can Search for Minor Technical Issues on Your Site Using Ahrefs

Here are five ways Ahrefs can help you fix minor technical issues on your site:

1. Find Broken Internal Links 

When visitors click on a broken link, they’ll be presented with a web page that no longer exists ( a 404 error page). As a result, visitors can’t continue to explore the page or any other pages on your site.

Additionally, if users aren’t spending enough time on your page, Google will assume that your page isn’t giving them what they need. 

In summary, broken links waste “link equity” and result in poor user experience.

What exactly is link equity?
Link equity or link juice is a term used to describe how a link can pass link value and link authority from one page to another.

Here’s how Ahrefs can help you clean up your broken links:

Step 1: Enter Your Domain Name into Site Explorer and Hit the “Best by links” Report

First, you’ll need to enter your domain into Site Explorer.

Now, let’s say we’re examining Simply Recipes, a popular food site that specializes in recipes, guides, and meal plans.

To find Simply Recipes’ broken internal links, we entered their domain into Site Explorer:

site explorer in ahrefs

Next, we selected the Best by links report in the left sidebar.

best by links report in Ahrefs' site explorer

Once we clicked on the Best by links report, we got the following report for Simple Recipes:

best pages by incoming links for

Step 2: Add a 404 Filter and Select “Internal” Links

To find your site’s broken links, you’ll need to select “404 not found” in the HTTP code dropdown menu:

HTTP code dropdown menu in Ahrefs

Here’s the report we got once we added a 404 filter:

404-report for

Next, we selected “Internal” to find all broken internal links on Simply Recipe’s site:

broken internal links report for

The above report tells us that Simply Recipes has over 300 broken internal links:

Additionally, you should sort the data table by both “Dofollow” and “Nofollow” internal links.

It’s crucial to have dofollow links since search engine bots crawl the web through these links.

In addition, a dofollow link passes link juice from one site to another. 

On the other hand, nofollowed links have a rel=”nofollow” attribute or nofollow meta tag. A nofollow attribute tells Google that you don’t want those pages to be crawled or indexed. 

And yes, you guessed it, nofollowed links don’t pass link equity to other pages on your site.

Using both these filters will help you find and fix all your broken internal links. 
To do this, simply click on “Dofollow” or “NoFollow.”

For example, we sorted our data table by “Dofollow,” and here’s the new report we got:

dofollow tab in the 404 error report page in Ahrefs

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2. Find Nofollowed Internal Links

Internal links with a nofollow attribute don’t add any value to your SEO or internal link strategy since these pages aren’t indexed by Google or pass page authority from one page to another. 

Here’s how you can find links that aren’t passing link juice to other pages on your site:

Step 1: Enter your site’s domain/blog URL into Site Explorer

First, you’ll need to enter your domain’s name or blog’s URL into Site Explorer.

For example, we entered the URL to Simply Recipes’ kitchen and cooking guides.

Ahrefs' site explorer

Step 2: Hit the “Internal Backlinks” Report and Set the Link Type Filter to Nofollow

Once we hit search, we got this Overview report that shows the site’s Domain Rating (domain authority) and URL Rating:

site explorer overview report for

Next, we hit the “Internal Backlinks” report in the left sidebar, and here’s the report we got:

ahrefs' internal backlinks report for

Lastly, you’ll need to select Nofollow” in the “Link type” filter.

For example, we clicked on the “Link type” dropdown menu and found that Simply Recipes’ cooking guides don’t have any nofollow links. 

no follow links

However, if we take a look at another popular recipe blog with high domain authority, Food52, we can see that their site has over 1,400 unique, nofollow links:

ahrefs' internal backlinks report for food52 domain

Although SEO experts occasionally tell Google not to give the linked-to website any additional link juice on purpose, the example below seems like it was done unintentionally:

jollot rice

Here, we can see that a page on Nigerian Fried Rice Recipe links to a page on Jollof rice, which makes sense since they’re both rice dishes from West Africa.

Additionally, we visited the referring page and saw that the link is placed naturally and contextually relevant. author notes for Nigerian Fried Rice

What does this data tell us?
This nofollow link was definitely done unintentionally.

Step 3: Sort the Data Table By Similar Links to Resolve Issues Quickly

To find sitewide or sectionwide nofollowed links, you can sort the data table by “Similar” links.

When you sort by Similar links, the data table will show the number of backlinks (inbound links) with the same anchor and surrounding text grouped together.

For example, we sorted the above data table by Similar links, and here’s the report we got:

ahrefs internal baclinks report sorted by Similar links

Here, we can see that Food52 has nofollowed 128 links to their recipe pages from their forum page. This is expected since forums can sometimes contain spammy comments.

However, if you come across sectionwide nofollowed links that were done unintentionally, all you need to do is remove the rel value. To do this, you’ll need to remove the rel=”nofollow” tag from the HTML code.

And there you have it, you’ve solved a ton of issues in one fell swoop!

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3. Find Internal Links with Redirects

Redirected internal links are pages that send users from the original URL to a new one.

Internal links with redirects can negatively impact the experience of both users and search engine crawlers and affect your site’s speed. It’s a good idea to update these redirects to remove the additional “link hop,” especially since you’re in complete control of your internal links.

To do this, you’ll need to follow the steps we covered in the previous section, where we found our internal links with a nofollow attribute.

However, instead of selecting “Nofollow” in the Link type filter, you’ll need to select “With redirect chain.”

redirect chain link type in ahrefs' internal links report

For example, once we changed the Link type filter to “With redirect chain,” we found that the recipe site has over 3,700 unique internal links with redirects.

internal links with redirect chain links

This report can help you see where you need to remove additional link hops, and it can help you fix pages that redirect to irrelevant pages.

For example, if you find that your blog post on fish tacos redirects to a post on roast chicken, this report gives you the opportunity to make that internal link make sense.

In other words, you can go into your blog post and remove that link or update the title and destination URL.

Don’t have time to fix all your redirected internal links?
Not to worry,

Ahrefs’ Best by Links report lets you fix redirected internal links for pages with the strongest backlink profile (most backlinks).

To do this, you’ll need to follow the steps we covered in the first section on broken links.

However, instead of adding a 404 filter, you’ll be adding a 301 filter in the HTTP status codes filter.

For example, once we:

  • Entered Food52’s domain into Site Explorer
  • Hit the Best by links report
  • Selected Internal links
  • Added a 301 filter
301 moved

We got the following report:

301 moved report

Once again, it’s essential to sort the list by both “Dofollow” and “Nofollow” so you can fix all our redirected internal links simultaneously.

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4. Find Internal Links to Unimportant Pages

Unimportant or irrelevant pages are outdated pages that aren’t getting your site a lot of traffic, and they don’t provide much value to your customers.

Let’s reimagine the experience of a customer who’s reading an important page on one of your products. 

To get more information on a specific product, they click on a click you’ve added on that page. However, that link takes them to a discontinued product page.

Are they going to spend time on that page?
Probably not.

Did they have a good online experience with your site?
Definitely not.

As a result, it’s a good idea to remove those internal links or delete/edit the outdated page.

Here’s how you can use Ahrefs to do this:

Step 1: Enter Your Domain into Site Explorer and Hit the “Best by links” Report

This method is similar to the broken links technique.

To get started, you’ll need to enter your domain into Site Explorer and view the Best by links rapport.
For example, we entered the URL to Simply Recipes’ buying guide blog into Site Explorer:

site explorer in ahrefs

Next, we hit the Best by links report:

best by links report in ahrefs

Step 2: Add a 202 Filter and Switch to Internal Links

Once we opened the Best by links report, we added a “200 ok” filter. This filter will show us all the working/active pages on our site.

200 ok filter in ahrefs' best by links report

Next, we clicked on “Internal” to view all our internal links with the HTTP 200 ok status code.

200 ok links

Lastly, we sorted the data table by “Dofollow” internal links. This way, we can see if we have an active dofollow link pointing to an irrelevant page

dofollow links

This is crucial since Google will crawl those pages, and if our links go to irrelevant pages, we’re not providing a good user experience, and our links might come across as spammy. 

As a result, our pages won’t perform well in Google’s SERP.

Next, we clicked on the number below “Dofollow” and hit “Group Similar” to check out all the unique dofollow internal links on the pages in Simply Recipes’ buying guides:

dofollow backlinks

In the above report, we can see that the page on “5 Specialty Kitchen Tools for Cooking Israeli Food at Home” has an internal link to a page on summer cookbook club. 

This link might not prove very useful for users who are visiting the page in winter or fall. As a result, visitors might leave the page without spending a lot of time on it.

Additionally, the surrounding text mentions “series for July 2020.” Hypothetically, if we had more relevant content or a cookbook page from the 2021 series, we could replace the link and surrounding text with that.

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4 Ways You Can Find Internal Link Building Opportunities 

Here are four ways you can find internal linking opportunities:

1. Do a “site:” Search in Google

This first method is done via Google.
It’s a useful method if you’ve got a few new, published blogs.

For example, let’s say that you run the blog China Sichuan Food.

This site is in the food and recipe niche. More specifically, traditional Chinese recipes.

You’ve recently published a blog post on mapo tofu recipes, and want to give that page a boost.

So, how do we know where to link from?
Not to worry.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can use Google to find internal linking opportunities:

Step 1: Enter “ “keyword or phrase related to page” into Google

To get started, you’ll need to enter “ “keyword or phrase related to page”” into Google’s search bar.

For example, we entered “ “mapo tofu recipe” into Google:

google "site:" search

Here’s what we found once we hit search:

google search results for "mapo tofu recipe"

This search shows us that 49 pages on our site, including our page on vegetarian mapo tofu (in Google’s index), mention “mapo tofu recipe.”

Next, we went to look at our vegetarian mapo tofu page and saw that the anchor text: “mapo tofu recipe” has already been linked.

mapo tofu recipe

However, we have another 48 pages that we can go through and add links where relevant.

It’s important to note that this method is helpful if you’ve got a small site and the time to analyze each page manually.

If you’ve got a larger site, you should consider using Ahrefs’ Link Opportunities report (which we cover in the next section) or targeting the most powerful pages on your site.

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2. Check Out The Link Opportunities Report in Ahrefs’ Site Audit Tool

Once you’ve run a new crawl on your site in Ahrefs’ Site Audit, you can start looking for link opportunities.

Here’s how you can find internal linking opportunities in Ahrefs:

Step 1: Go to Ahrefs’ Site Audit Tool and Hit the “Link Opportunities” Tool in the Left Sidebar

To get started, hit the Link Opportunities tool in Site Audit:

link opportunites option in ahrefs' site audit tool

Once you click on the Link Opportunities tool, you’ll see a report like this:

link oppurtinities report in ahrefs

This report shows us all the internal linking opportunities for our hypothetical Chinese recipes website.

In addition, we can see that the above report suggests that we add a link from the source page to the target page using “five spice powder” as the anchor text. In doing so, we’ll be able to pass link authority or link juice from the source page to the target page.  

However, sometimes you only want to see the internal linking opportunities for a specific page.

Fortunately, this internal link building tool can do just that.

Here’s how to go about it:

Step 1: Add a Filter for “target page = tofu recipe URL.”

For example, let’s say that we want to boost our mapo tofu recipe page once again.
To do this, we’ll first need to add a filter for “target page = mapo tofu recipe URL.”

This filter will limit the report’s results and only show us internal link opportunities for our map tofu page.

internal link opportunities for mapo tofu on

Step 2: Take a Look at the Keyword Context Column

Looking at this column, we’ll get some ideas on how and where we can mention “map tofu.”

keyword context column

Now we can add links from our source pages to our mapo tofu recipe page using anchor text like: “mapo tofu,” “mapo tofu recipe,” and “best mapo tofu recipe.”

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3. Find Your Power Pages in the Ahrefs’ Best by Links Report

A page with high page authority or the most backlinks or inlinks is known as a power page.

Once you’ve found your power pages, you can internally link from your high-authority pages to another important page that needs a boost. This way, you can pass link juice from one page to another and boost your page rankings.

Here’s how you can identify your power pages with Ahrefs:

Step 1: Enter Your Domain into Site Explorer and Check the Best by Links Report

To get started, first enter your domain into Site Explorer.

For example, we entered our hypothetical Chinese recipe site, China Sichuan Food, into Site Explorer:

site explorer tool in ahrefs

Next, we hit the Best by links report:

best by links report in ahrefs
chinese recipe reports

Step 2: Look Down the List and See Where You Can Add Links

From the above Best by links report, we can see that our page on homemade red bean buns is the 7th most authoritative page on our site.

Additionally, the blog post mentions “popular Chinese dessert” in the introduction.

popular chinese desert

Fortunately, our hypothetical site also has a page on Chinese dessert and bakery recipes.

chinese desert page

As a result, we could add an internal link from homemade red bean buns to the Chinese dessert and bakery recipes page, using anchor text like “popular Chinese dessert” and “Chinese dessert recipes.”

Once we’ve added the internal link, we can transfer link equity from our high-authority page on red bean buns to a page that needs a boost, the Chinese dessert and bakery recipes page.

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4. Check Out Your Competitors’ Internal Linking Strategy using Ahrefs

Ahrefs’ Internal Backlinks report can also give you insights into your competitor’s internal linking and content marketing strategy.
More specifically, you can use the report to determine if your competitors are passing PageRank through internal linking.

For example, you can figure out how and why a page with fewer backlinks or inlinks ranks higher than other top-ranking pages.

For example, we typed in “fried rice recipe” into Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer:

keywords explorer in ahrefs

And once we clicked search, we got this SERP overview report:

serp overview report for "fried rice recipe"

As you can see, Chef Savvy’s page currently ranks higher than The Recipe Critic’s page. However, Chef Shavvy’s page has 362 inbound links, whereas has 1,695.

To dig a little deeper into Chef Savvy’s internal linking strategy, we entered the URL to Chef Savvy’s page into Site Explorer, hit the Internal Backlink report, and this is what we found:

internal backlinks report in ahrefs

This tells us that the page has over 10 groups of similar links.

However, if we take a look at similar links for one of the pages below, we see that there are over 720 similar links:

similar links report in ahrefs

Next, we changed the filter to see “All” backlinks.

The report shows us that many of the referring pages have a ton of referring domains pointing to them. As a result, these pages are probably passing PageRank through internal linking.


Additionally, we visited Chef Savvy’s page on five ingredient peanut butter energy bites to check out her site structure and the location of the internal anchor text:

the best recipe report

The link is placed at the bottom of the article and appears in a list of top posts. As a result, Chef Savvy has an internal link strategy that relies on the list of posts in the top posts section to pass link juice from one page to another.

We can probably replicate this internal linking structure to boost our page rankings as a site in the same niche. 

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Key Takeaways

Internal links can help Google discover your new pages and add them to their index, pass PageRank across sites, and help search engines understand what your page is all about.

Not to mention, all these things boost your site’s performance and page rankings in Google’s SERP. However, it’s crucial to have the right internal linking strategy. 

Fortunately, with Ahrefs, you’ll have all the tools you need to find internal linking opportunities and execute them effectively.

However, when it comes to creating content clusters for your internal linking strategy, it’s best to leave it to the experts.

If you need help with targeting the right keywords and creating awesome content, connect with the SEO experts at Startup Voyager. We can help you create a powerhouse internal link building strategy and drive traffic to your site organically.

About the author

Jayati is the Co-founder at Startup Voyager, a digital marketing agency with expertise in growth marketing. She has worked with top national newspapers in India, including the Financial Express and The Telegraph, writing cutting-edge content in information technology, finance, and automobile sectors.

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