Internal Links: How Many Are Too Many? Understanding the what and why behind internal linking is both complicated and simple at the same time. Why does the number of internal links in a webpage even matter? Well, we shall delve into all this. Let’s start with a brief overview of internal linking.
Internal linking is an SEO power tool, with its major use lying in content marketing. It is one of the easiest and most straightforward ways to get an SEO uptick on your blogs or articles. For your content to rank on the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs), it needs links. Google can find your page much easier if it has links to somewhere on the web. Internal linking also holds the ability to connect all your content and give Google a clearer idea of your site’s internal structure.
Internal linking is the best way to establish a hierarchy on your website, giving you the ability to mark more links in more important pages, as compared to the less important ones. Using internal links is extremely important in pushing your content forward to a better SEO ranking. But if your website has too many links, it can have a detrimental effect on your SERP placement. In essence, having too many internal links can dilute your page value.
Hence, in this article we delve into everything there is to know about internal linking, and why too much of it can harm your SEO strategy. Read on to know more.
Internal links and their primary purpose
Internal links refer to links that connect one web page to another within the same website. Unlike external links, the source and the destination of an internal link are always the same. This is why Google uses internal linking to understand the internal structure of your website. Internal links help the search engine navigate your website, giving it a much clearer idea about the functionality of your website. With the right internal linking strategy in place, a good SEO ranking is inevitable.
We can split the primary purpose of internal linking into three parts. They are as follows:
- It is a major help in website navigation.
- Gives you a clearer picture of the website’s structure and architecture.
- Plays an essential part in SEO rankings.
Internal links and your crawl budget
One of the major reasons why your internal linking strategy has to be spot on is the crawl budget. But what is the crawl budget? Well, let’s first understand the search engine’s role in this. When a query is typed into Google, the search engine will sift through mounds and mounds of data in search of the one that matches the search query.
Moreover, these search engines do not have infinite time and resources to check all available pages on the internet. The limited number of websites these search engines do scan is called the crawl budget.
If the number of pages on your website is greater than the crawl budget, then there is a chance that the remaining pages will remain unindexed, resulting in no ranking and appearance on SERPs. But how is all this connected to internal linking?
Search engines always start by crawling and indexing the most important pages on your website. The easiest way to determine webpage importance is via external and internal links. Although external links may carry more weight, they aren’t always in your control. Such is not the case with internal links. Here are a few internal linking practices you should follow to create a page hierarchy and make your website SEO-friendly.
- Make sure that the most important pages on your website have the highest number of internal links as compared to others.
- All important web pages are linked to your homepage.
- All web pages have at least one internal link embedded in them.
- Perform internal link auditing practices regularly.
Is the ‘100 links’ Golden Rule Of Thumb Still Valid in 2021?
Well, this is the question that so many people have asked over such a long time now. You must understand that having internal links is very essential for SEO, but having too many can dilute the value of your website. So how many links is too many? And how many are just enough?
The former head of search quality of Google, Matt Cutts, states that more than a hundred internal links on any website can have a detrimental effect on SEO. Google might not follow and index all these links, therefore resulting in the division of PageRank of that particular page among hundreds of other pages. This will have a heavy negative impact on the page ranking of that page, making sure that it never sees the light of day, or in this case, the initial SERPs.
Cutts laid down this 100 link thumb rule in 2009, but does it still hold? A new study conducted by Netvantage Marketing has something to say about the above topic. In the study, they found that many websites that ranked well had more than 100 internal links, but had competitive keywords. All the others that appeared on the first SERP have less than 100 internal links.
The test was pretty inconclusive, but it helped us realize that things are not the same as they were back in 2009. It is evident that a lot of developers are aware of the 100 link thumb rule and hence have deliberately used less than 100. But it is possible to rank your page well even while surpassing the rule.
Does the number really matter, or does quality?
Doesn’t this go without saying? The quality of anything will be so much more important than the quantity of something. This stands true with internal linking as well. Internal linking is essential for your blog piece to gain some webpage traction. But to answer your question, does quality matter more for internal linking than quantity does? Of course, it does! Let’s understand this in terms of the functionality of internal linking.
Internal links help the search engine gauge the infrastructure of the website. By interconnecting the website, interlinks are essentially serving as a tour guide, showing the search engine around the website, from one webpage to another. But what if all the pages of the website connect to all the other pages of your website? This will result in internal linking across the entire website, leaving no proper structure anymore.
The website will now simply become a maze for the search engine, a maze that it won’t bother navigating all the way and tank your SEO ranking. This makes it very difficult to understand the internal context of individual pages and sheds very little light on what is the most important page of the website. So, yes, interlinking is very important, but too much of it can make things difficult for your SEO ranking.
Make sure that you don’t dilute the value of your website. It is okay if you use fewer internal links. What matters is how well you internally link your website and how planned your internal linking strategy is for it to best perform SEO. Fine-tune your website, use only essential internal links, and pave a path around your website that is well thought out to achieve a higher SEO ranking as compared to quantitative internal linking.
The significance of internal link building in SEO
Whenever we mention link building, the first thing that pops into your mind is always backlinking. Backlinks are an extremely vital part of your SEO strategy, but in no way overshadows the importance of internal links. Internal links seldom get the credit they deserve and play a major factor in determining your website’s health. From ranking authority distribution across web pages to dealing with Google crawler bots, internal linking is the basis for determining the site architecture and infrastructure. Therefore, let’s shed some light on internal links and their contribution to boosting your SEO campaign.
Improves user interaction time on your website
We have been talking about internal linking and website structure from the beginning of the article. But now, let’s talk about it from a user’s perspective, instead of a search engine’s. Internal linking is an excellent tool for website navigation. This offers a massive user experience advantage to anyone navigating your website. If your website does not have a well-designed website layout and internal linking structure, it would be difficult for the user to navigate from one page of your website to another, resulting in them getting distracted and leaving the page.
One of the most successful examples of internal linking is Wikipedia. Their internal linking model is now being replicated everywhere. They rely on two major types of internal links:
- Contextual links – Contextual links are found inside a paragraph or a block of text. They aim to redirect to another webpage to give a detailed description or information about a particular word or phrase. Contextual links have the most SEO value.
- Related links – These links will provide you with additional information, such as the other articles, related to the one you are reading right now. You can usually find them between two paragraphs or at the end of the article.
Also, a logical and well-planned website layout can save you a lot of money on crawling by enabling search engines to auto-index more and more pages in each visit.
Internal linking improves the indexing of your website.
Whenever search engine bots crawl your website, internal links present on the webpage allow it to identify content that hasn’t already gotten indexed, and index it. Now, this can work out two ways for you. If you are a website that doesn’t have a good internal linking strategy in place, a lot of pages would get left out of indexing since they wouldn’t be discovered in the first place.
However, with an efficient internal linking strategy in place, you can rest assured that the spider bots will discover all the new content and index it as soon as possible.
On top of all this, Google search engine bots make use of multiple entry points to understand a website. They will first enter via the homepage and then through web pages that have the most backlinks. Therefore, a web page hierarchy is extremely essential in this case. To maximize the effectiveness of the crawl budget, the internal pages with the highest authority must link to pages with considerably lesser authority.
These pages must further link to minor pages, and so on. This is done so that Google indexes every single webpage on your website and shows up high on the SERPs.
Increases the use of long-tail keywords
The phrases that usually increase more than or equal to three words are known as long-tail keywords. For example, if your keyword is ‘shoes’, then the long-tail keyword can be ‘blue high-top shoes’. But why use long-tail keywords? Well, the fact that they have a much higher conversion rate as compared to generic keywords is one such reason.
Internal linking increases the use of long-tail keywords in your website, and here is how that will help.
- A much higher conversion potential can be noticed with long-tail keywords, as compared to generic ones.
- With a lower level of competition, you can position yourself rather easily with long-tail keywords.
- 70% of all keyword requests are long-tail requests.
If your link anchors are sufficiently diversified, then internal linking can put you in a position of power when it comes to long-tail keywords. You can methodically use an amalgamation of both to improve website traffic and increase conversion rates.
Common internal link building mistakes to avoid in 2022
Including broken links
This effectively gives rise to one of the most obvious crawlability issues for websites. This pertains to links that don’t work, which can happen because of a malformed URL or the page at the end of the link being broken. They disrupt the flow of link equity throughout your site, making it difficult to navigate and resulting in a lower SEO ranking.
Page Crawl Depth of More than 3 Clicks
In essence, crawl depth refers to the number of clicks it will take to reach the homepage. As crawl depth increases, the difficulty in reaching the desired page increases, and the chances of reaching it decreases. Therefore, it is of the essence that the website architecture is redesigned such that the crawl depth entails as few clicks as possible.
Pages with Only One Incoming Internal Link
Throughout the article, we have made it clear that the increased number of internal links will allow more and more users and bots to find it. Therefore, make sure there are more internal links pointing to important pages, and that the linked content is relevant to each other.
You now understand the importance of internal linking to the success of your website on the Google SERPs.
Using a good internal linking strategy doesn’t simply entail a higher number of links, but also efficient interconnectivity on the website and qualitative links.
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Author bio for this guest post:
Ashley Kemper is an Assistant Editor at Commerce Mentors.
She has 5+ years of experience in writing about Marketing, SEO, and Technology. She also helps with the end-to-end execution of content strategy.
When not writing, Ashley spends most of her time reading and cooking.
As a sports enthusiast, she spends her weekends running and watching badminton tournaments.