Are Internal Links Super Critical for SEO?

internal-links

Internal linking can be one of the most important things that you do in your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, and here’s why. Google looks at the number of links that you have within your website as an indication of how authoritative it should rank you.

If you have lots of internal links pointing to content on your site, Google assumes that this content must be important, and therefore it will rank you more highly in search results.

Breadcrumb Navigation

This allows website visitors to intuitively and seamlessly navigate their way through a website. Breadcrumb navigation will show visitors, in plain sight, where they are on your site, making it simple for them to figure out how to get where they want to go.

This can be especially important if you have a lot of pages with several subsections within each page. Breadcrumbs will help your readers or customers know exactly what page they’re on and where else on your site they can find information.

Breadcrumb Structured Data

On a Google search, you’ll often see breadcrumb structured data under the title. The breadcrumb structured data is linked to your own website with each item linking back to a different section of your website; it allows users to be able to navigate through your website and get back home if they want.

Breadcrumbs are a great way of helping people find their way around your site without getting lost or seeing things that aren’t relevant, and it also helps Google understand what content is related so that their pages show up when users search for them.

Is Breadcrumb Structured Data Enough for Internal Linking?

Structured data and breadcrumbs are two of Google’s main signals for establishing a site’s structure, but neither tells Google how information should be grouped on your site. In fact, one isn’t necessarily more important than another—your crawl budget will ultimately determine which signal will be weighted more heavily in your site architecture.

So how can you get both sets of data to point to all relevant sections of your website? Automated tagging. Keep reading as we break down what it means and why it’s so critical to have an internal linking strategy (hint: you probably don’t have one).

Why Internal Linking is Important

On-site link building doesn’t work, right? WRONG. The problem with on-site SEO is not that it isn’t important, but that people spend a lot of time thinking about off-site link building instead.

While there are sites like Wikipedia and Reddit where people can share links to your site and you can get some love from external websites, search engines place a LOT more emphasis on internal linking than most people realize.

If you want to truly dominate search rankings, it’s vital that you make your website as easy as possible for bots to crawl around in. Also note that while internal links aren’t voted up by other sites’ backlinks, they do pass more trust through to linked pages – because Google knows pages are connected!

John Mueller’s Answer:

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.

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.

John Mueller

Citation

FAQ

  • What is internal linking?
  • Do internal links help SEO?

Published on: 2022-03-14
Updated on: 2022-05-18

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Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is the SEO Director at SEO North, a company that provides Search Engine Optimization services. Isaac has considerable expertise in Search Engine Optimization, Server Administration, and Cyber Security, which gives him a leg up as a Google Algorithm Analyst and SEO Expert.