Is internal linking super critical for SEO? “I think it’s one of the biggest things that you can do on a website to kind of guide Google and guide visitors to the pages that you think are important” says Google’s John Mueller. In a recent Office-hours video, a viewer poses a question, asking if internal linking is still important after one has set up and implemented structured data for breadcrumbs. To which John answers a resounding ‘yes’, and goes further to state that it is an all-important and a result-oriented way of communicating to Google what content is most important and that Google must look into it, find such pages, and rank them as per merit.
Should you build internal links even after putting navigational breadcrumbs in place?
Here is what the viewer asks. “If you have structured data for breadcrumbs set up is internal linking still important for SEO?” To which John is prompt to reply. “Yes, absolutely. It’s something where internal linking is super critical for SEO. I think it’s one of the biggest things that you can do on a website to kind of guide Google and guide visitors to the pages that you think are important. And what you think is important is totally up to you. You can decide to make things important where you earn the most money or you can make things important where you’re the strongest competitor or maybe you’re the weakest competitor. With internal linking you can really kind of focus things on those directions and those parts of your site
Breadcrumbs vs. Internal Linking | It’s not a matter of Either-Or
John goes on to add a critical footnote to the entire debate of breadcrumbs and internal linking. Building internal links strategically is a way to go a step ahead of putting breadcrumbs in place and building on it for thereon. As doing so can communicate to Google what pages are extremely important; something that breadcrumbs can’t entirely do. “And that’s not something that you can just replace with structured data. So just because there is a structured data in a page somewhere, I wouldn’t see that as a replacement for normal internal linking. Even if in the structured data you also provide URLs, we don’t use those URLs in the same way as we would use normal internal links on a page. So it’s definitely not the case that hreflang annotations replace links between country versions or breadcrumb annotations replace links between different levels of a website. You should really have normal HTML links between the different parts of your website. And ideally, you should not just have a basic set of links, but rather you should look at it in a strategic way and think about what do you care about the most and how can you highlight that with your internal linking.”
The Importance of Internal Linking
Like breadcrumbs, internal linking aids in navigation across the website. But it goes a few steps beyond it and also defines the website’s architecture as well as the hierarchy of it all. And last but not the least, even though internal linking is not a direct ranking factor, it does aid in distributing page authority and ranking power evenly across the website instead of just a few of its pages having that higher power as compared to the others. And that is exactly where strategic internal linking comes into play. If you have a lot of pages in your websites and more are added daily, it’s important to ensure that your most important pages don’t get buried under the rubble. Here, internal linking, when done right, can lead the visitors as well as search engines to the most important ones easily. “…you should look at it in a strategic way and think about what do you care about the most and how can you highlight that with your internal linking.” concludes John
Tips for Strategic Internal Linking for Top-notch SEO
• Create a lot of content in order to have lot of internal links, goes without saying.
• Make use of Anchor Texts. Keep it all natural. Keep tricks aside. And think of Anchor Text diversity.
• Create internal links that go deeper into your site’s architecture and content.
• Think about making internal linking natural for the visitor, something that adds to the user experience rather than acts as a hindrance..
• Going against the very first point, do not overboard with building internal links. Keep it natural, keep it fluid.