John Mueller Says Using Too Many Internal Links Can Dilute Their Value
Professional SEO agencies and site owners use internal links in their content to redirect their readers to another page on their website. However, Google’s John Mueller warns SEO agencies that using too many internal links can reduce their value. The good news is, he shared some helpful tips on what to do instead.
A website owner submitted a question during the Google Search Central SEO hangout on 2 July, wondering if there are any harmful effects of using too many internal links on the same web page.
Mueller and the community often discuss external links during the hangouts, but they rarely get the chance to bring up the impact of internal links on SEO.
The Importance Of Internal Links In SEO
Internal links play a huge role in SEO. Online businesses and site owners use them to tell Google about the most important pages on their website. Even though they are different from external links regarding ranking signals, they are still important.
Moreover, internal links help search engines understand a website’s structure. They are similar to sitemaps, which can also send the same type of information, but the internal links’ logical structure can make things clearer for the search engine.
Despite all the advantages of using internal links, the SEO who asked the question wonders if using too many of them could be a bad thing.
Google’s John Mueller Comments On Using Too Many Internal Links
According to Mueller, using too many internal links throughout a web page may cause several issues. Firstly, it could ruin Google’s understanding of a website’s structure.
Mueller first explained how Google uses internal links to better understand a page’s structure. It is always the search engine’s goal to understand the web page and how it differs from all the other web pages out there. If all of the pages are linked to all other pages on the website, then there is no real structure there.
If a website has so many pages interlinked with each other, Google will have a hard time singling out the most important web page that should be featured in the search results. It will also have trouble distinguishing which of the pages are relevant to one another. In such cases, linking all of the web pages to each other can do more harm than good.
Regardless of the site’s authority, PageRank, and other factors, Google and other search engines won’t be able to have a clear understanding of the structure. This also makes it harder for them to distinguish the context of the other web pages within the website in question.
The second issue of using too many internal links has something to do with reducing their value. An internal link can tell Google and other search engines that a web page is important to the website. But the more links are added to the page, the lower their value gets. For instance, if there are twenty internal links on a web page, Google will not treat them all with the same importance compared to if there were only one or two links.
Mueller thinks that limiting the number of internal links will provide more importance to the page, which is valuable because it gives SEOs the opportunity to fine-tune the way they want to be perceived in the search results.
SEO agencies and site owners can tell Google’s search engine – clearly and directly – which page is their primary page. From there, they can link to different category pages, and these categories can link to different products. With this approach, Google can easily understand the site structure and will show the primary page in the search results.
On the other hand, cross-linking different web pages would feel like telling Google to guess the primary page among all the other pages because any of them could be relevant. In the worst-case scenario, Google will redirect potential clients to some random product instead of the category pages – when they are actually searching for the category products!
For instance, having a proper site structure using internal links could look like this: Homepage > Category Page > Services Page > Contact Us Page. With this method, internal links will greatly resemble the website’s structure.
And when it comes to adding internal links to blog articles, one could also place contextual links to related articles on the same website. Being creative with placing internal links and the kind of content they redirect to is crucial not only for Google’s search engine but also for the readers.
Tips For Top-Notch Internal Linking
Here are some helpful tips for effective internal linking:
1. Create Compelling Content
It goes without saying that to use internal links, one must have relevant and quality content that they could redirect their readers to. Writing great content is the first step to having an efficient internal linking strategy; SEOs and publishers cannot have one without the other.
2. Use Anchor Text
It is advisable to use anchor text for internal links instead of linked images. Using image links is fine, as long as the image is properly alt-tagged and they are not the main source of links.
3. Use Links In A Natural Way
Publishers and content creators should take a user-focused approach and keep the reader’s best interests in mind, so they should add information and value to their internal links. So, it is best to insert internal links in a creative and natural way.
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