Internal Linking Optimisation: What Does it Mean?
For webmasters and marketers, high-authority backlinks are the Holy Grail of SEO. They carry huge weight with Google, they funnel organic traffic to your website, and they have enormous long-term value.
On the downside, the process of earning these top-shelf backlinks can be difficult and time-consuming. The payoff justifies the input required, but it can still be a laborious process.
In the meantime, evidence suggests that comparatively few show any real priority to internal linking, perhaps due to their underestimation of the potential value of internal links particularly when distributed strategically.
Confirmation from Google
On several recent occasions, Google has gone on record to emphasise the importance of strategic internal linking. John Mueller in particular highlighted just how influential internal links can be when it comes to the way a site is crawled and subsequently indexed.
“One of the strategies I try to encourage people or tell people to think about is, on the one hand you can decide what kind of pages you think are important within your website and which ones you want Google to focus on through internal linking,” said the Google search guru.
“And kind of working to make sure that like if you say 90 are currently not indexed and 10 are indexed, that you make sure that at least the 10 that are indexed are really good pages and really important pages for you.”
“And then over time what you’ll see is Google crawls more and more of your website as it recognizes that it’s really good and important, and that can then result in on the one hand crawling more frequently the existing pages, and on the other hand crawling deeper within your website so kind of like more layers within the internal linking and digging in a little bit deeper.”
Optimising internal link flow in this way is perhaps the best way to ‘push’ specific pages of your website based on their performance. This is therefore something that should be done strategically and systematically site-wide, giving Google a clearer picture of which of your pages hold greatest value.
Reducing Link Flow Loss
In some instances, it may be necessary to link to pages within your site that are not particularly search-friendly. Removing these pages or these links may not be an option, increasing the risk of PageRank loss.
To compensate for this, always link back from every internal page you link to. The strategic use of the nofollow tag can also help reduce link flow loss, attributed to essential pages within your site that are not search-friendly.
Penalty factors may also need to be considered, where the same content is duplicated across multiple pages in your website. Product pages, for example, may need to be largely identical, shy of a few alterations here and there.
Linking internally to a long list of pages with near-identical content can lead Google to believe they are actually spam pages. Where possible, internal links to pages with duplicate content should be minimised to whatever extent you can get away with.