Official: the impact of internal links on your rankings on Google

The internal links on your website do have an impact on the rankings of your website on Google. Google’s John Mueller confirmed this in a Google Webmaster Central hangout. He talked about internal linking best practices and shared information about the impact of internal links.

What are internal links?

Internal links are links that go from one page of your website to another page of your website. The words that you use in these links help search engines to understand the context of the link. These linked words are called “anchor text” in SEO.

If the anchor texts contain particular keywords, it’s more likely that the linked page will be ranked for these keywords.

What happens if you have two equally important pages for a keyword?

That’s what a webmaster asked in the webmaster hangout:

“Let’s say I have two strong URLs about cheese in my website. One is an e-commerce page where you can buy cheese. The other is a complete guide about cheese.

So two different pages talking about the same topic, but both really relevant. What’s the best practice for internal linking?

Is it okay to link to both pages using the same anchor text cheese? Or should one be linked differently?”

John Mueller said that internal links are very important and that Google gets the context from both the anchor text and the linking page.

“Internal linking helps us, on the one hand, to find pages. So that’s really important. It also helps us to get a bit of context about that specific page.

And we get some of that through the anchor text from the internal linking, and some, of course, from understanding where these pages are linked within your website.

So with regards to that, thinking specifically about the anchor text here, I don’t think you need to do anything specific there if you’re already linking to those pages. If you’re using a reasonable anchor text or for ‘cheese,’ in this case, that sounds perfectly fine.”

Of course, you can always improve the anchor texts for your users:

“I don’t think you need to change the anchor text to be, ‘Buy Your Cheese Online Here,’ and it’s like ‘The Ultimate Guide To All Types Of Cheese’ here.

It’s something you could do if you wanted to, if you think it makes sense for your users.”

In general, it’s best to use anchor texts that describe what users will get on the linked page.

Fewer pages can be better than more pages

John Mueller also said that fewer pages can be better than many pages if you want to avoid cannabilization.

“I think it’s always kind of a tricky situation when you have multiple pages on the same topic or multiple pages for the same keyword, in that people often worry about cannibalization, which essentially means that you have multiple pages ranking for the same term.

And maybe you would be ranking better if you had just had one page ranking for that term. That’s definitely something legitimate to think about.

And from my point of view, I generally prefer to have fewer pages rather than more pages.”

If you have different pages that deal with exactly the same topic, better use one page. If the pages are different (a commercial page about cheese and an informational page about cheese) then it’s better two have two pages.

What you should do now

John Mueller says that you should use ‘reasonable’ anchor text. That means that the anchor texts should say what the page is about. The website audit tool in SEOprofiler checks if the links on your website are intact and you also get the most popular internal anchor texts on your website.

The website audit tool also checks your web pages for errors that have a negative impact on your search engine rankings:

Check your website now

Johannes Selbach

Johannes Selbach is the CEO of SEOprofiler. He blogs about search engine optimization and website marketing topics at "http://blog.seoprofiler.com".