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Internal Linking is Super Critical For SEO

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Internal Linking is Super Critical For SEO


Google’s John Mueller answered a question about internal linking and affirmed that internal linking that goes beyond site breadcrumb navigation is one of the “biggest things” a publisher can do tell Google what content is the most important.

Breadcrumb Navigation

In children’s stories a protagonist may venture into a forest and leave behind a trail of breadcrumbs they can follow in order to avoid getting lost.

A website similarly provides a “breadcrumb” trail in the form of a breadcrumb site navigation so that a site visitor can navigate back through the website structure of a website.

Typically a breadcrumb starts at the home page then goes to a category page and then goes to an article.

Home > Category > Article (You Are Here)

Breadcrumb Structured Data

Breadcrumb structured data is a reflection of the breadcrumb navigation which is a part of what’s called internal navigation.

Internal navigation makes it easy for site visitors to navigate through a website, going back and forth between the categories and sub-categories of a website to find interesting things to read.

Breadcrumb structured data tells Google what the topic of a website category is about.

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  • This category is about x.
  • This category is about y.
  • This category is about z.

Breadcrumb site navigation is reflected in structured data, which is the context of what is being discussed.

Is Breadcrumb Structured Data Enough for Internal Linking?

The person asking the question wanted to know if setting up breadcrumb structured data navigation is enough for internal linking for SEO.

This is the question:

“If you have structured data for breadcrumbs set up is internal linking still important for SEO?”

Internal Linking is Important

Google’s John Mueller responded by stating that internal linking is an opportunity to communicate to Google something more than what internal navigational links can communicate.

John Mueller answered if internal linking was important:

“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.

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With internal linking you can really kind of focus things on those directions and those parts of your site.

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.”

Why Internal Linking is Important

John Mueller didn’t say internal linking was a ranking factor. He just said that it’s a good way to tell Google which pages in a site are important.

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If we backtrack a little and look at how a website is structured, in a traditional website the site structure resembles a pyramid.

The top of the pyramid is a small point that usually has general information about what the site is about and what it offers.

As you click through through the layers of categories and subcategories via the site navigation, the topics go from very general (at the top) to increasingly very specific, way at the bottom of that pyramidal site structure.

The bigger the site the more pages there are and the likelier that an important page can get buried and remain forgotten in the avalanche of content.

What John Mueller suggested is that strategic internal linking is a way to point Google and site visitors to the most popular or important topics.

A thoughtful use of internal linking can help Google and site visitors quickly get to important content.

As Mueller recommended:

“…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 is not for “tricking” Google into thinking that a web page is relevant for XYZ.

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It tells search engines what pages are most important.

Internal linking is just a way to point to your important content and making sure that search engines can find it and rank it.

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Internal Linking is Super Critical For SEO

Watch the video at the 25:14 minute mark:

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See also  7 Ways to Easily Set Up an SEO Content Strategy

SEO

New Updates To Google Page Experience Scoring Revealed At SEODay

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New Updates To Google Page Experience Scoring Revealed At SEODay

In an online session at SEODay 2022, Google Search Advocate John Mueller spoke about the impact of page experience on search engine rankings and changes to how the search engine scores sites.

One of the changes revealed was that Google now bases desktop search results on a site’s desktop experience – and mobile search results on a site’s mobile experience.

He also discussed the three primary metrics the search engine uses in determining experience scores: largest contentful paint (LCP), first input delay (FID), and cumulative layout shift (CLS).

“This is not a tie-breaker,” Mueller said. “It won’t make or break your website in terms of search, but it is a factor that comes into play in regards to ranking between different results.”

Google has also added a new page experience metric, “interactivity to next page,” or INP.

Google initially announced INP at I/O 2022, and while Mueller was clear that it is not a direct rankings factor, he discussed INP  as something that may play a role in the future.

Search Console Insights Provides Easier Way To Track Search Rankings

Mueller spent the first part of his presentation discussing the benefits of Search Console Insights. Using Search Console data, alongside analytics, users can generate custom reports and get a different view of the data.

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He specifically mentioned using BigQuery and Data Studio as “a way of connecting different data sources together and creating really fancy reports.”

Google is also working on expanding its Search Console APIs, Mueller said, which will allow users to connect these APIs to code on their sites.

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Possible uses Mueller mentioned include monitoring top queries and checking to see if specific URLs are indexed.

Videos & Images Take On More Prominent Role In Search

At I/O earlier this year, Google previewed a set of video reports coming to Search Console: a response to a growing appetite for this type of media in search results.

“We see that people love videos and authentic images in search results, so we try to show them more,” Mueller said.

In this growing trend, he included web stories, a collection of pages that often have videos. To facilitate their use, Google now offers a WordPress plugin for creating them.

Authentic Product Reviews Factored Into Rankings

Ecommerce has been trending upward, with the global market expected to surpass $5.5 trillion this year. In its algorithm, Google includes what Mueller termed “authentic reviews” to accommodate digital shoppers better.

“People have high expectations of reviews they find online, so we’ve also worked specifically on updates to algorithms with regards to ranking these product reviews,” he said.

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Other Updates From Mueller

At SEODay, Mueller said Google has slightly changed its terminology, with the term “title links” now being used to refer only to the title of a search result.

The search engine giant has also added a new robots meta tag, “indexifembedded.”

Users can leverage the meta tag when embedding content on the main page and want to control the indexing of that embedded piece of content.

Mueller also said Google’s blog was the best source of information on any SEO-related topic.

See also  7 Ways to Easily Set Up an SEO Content Strategy

“With any kind of bigger update… it’s sometimes really tricky to tell folks what they should be looking at specifically,” he noted. “So we have a fairly comprehensive blog post .”


Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

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