by Dave Davies | May 24, 2012

 

internal-link-clusters

In “Keyword Clustering for Maximum Search Profitability” we discussed the idea of clustering keywords and how doing so can increase the speed and effectiveness of your link building efforts. The article was based on the principle of passing internal strength between the pages of your website.

Today we’ll discuss this subject in more detail. Be warned, it’ll involve a little bit of math (we are dealing with Google’s algorithm after all, so there’s almost always going to an element of that). That said, I’m going to do the math for you to provide what’s most important, an understanding of why the formulas work and simple ways to determine what needs to be done. If you understand the why, the math essentially does itself.

What Are Internal Links?

We all know that internal links are the links within your website that enable visitors to get from one page to another, a point we won’t dwell on further. The question you want to answer here is, “What do internal links mean to a search engine and how are they weighted?”

At its core, an internal link adds value to your pages in a manner similar to third party links to your site. That said, this would be a poor attempt at education if I assumed knowledge so let’s take it from the top and answer first the question… how does strength pass from one page to another? (Note: many of the principles of this apply to both internal and external links to a page.) From there we’ll look at how external links impact the weight flow.

When I ponder the value of a link, either internal or from a third party, I consider the world of Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. The first and foremost thought is my head is that each page has a vote – a chance to cast their ballot in favor of other resources. Where it gets Orwellian is in his infamous quote which I will bastardize for my use here, “All votes are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

To put this in the context of internal links, a link from the homepage of a site or another strong page will be weighted higher than a link from a weak page 12 levels deep in its hierarchy. With this sentiment we know that the old real estate adage of “location, location, location” holds as true in SEO as it does in the “real world” however it gets even more true when we consider the other elements that come into play.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so below you’ll find an image of a simple site hierarchy. Due to my complete lack of design ability, hopefully this picture is worth at least 75 words or at least doesn’t draw from the overall word count of this article. It will serve the purpose needed here at least.

A Simple Website Structure

Below is a seven page website (six internals and a homepage). Now let’s consider how the weight will pass from one page to another. In my calculations I am not factoring in the evaporation of weight that occurs with every link (Matt Cutts discussed this at second 40 in his video here).

Because this happen with every link on your site and your competitors as well, it can be viewed as a level playing field and negated for simplicity though it is reinforcement for limiting the number of links on a page to minimize evaporation. But back to the point at hand.

No matter what the site is, one can assume the homepage value is 100. This is because I’m only factoring in the link passing within the site, not valuing the site against others. So let’s begin.

internal-link-example-1

If the homepage value is 100, the value passes as:

  • Homepage – 100
  • One – 33.3
  • Two – 33.3
  • Three – 33.3
  • Four – 16.7
  • Five – 16.7
  • Six – 33.3

This assumes that each of these pages links only to the pages in the diagram and the weight is split evenly among all links. In the real world, however, it would be more realistic (though messy in the illustration) to assume that each page links to each page higher in the hierarchy plus the homepage. So let’s look at what each page will pass.

The homepage starting value is 100 meaning that it will indeed pass 33.3 value to each of the pages one level down.

Rather than linking downward however these pages will also link back to the home page giving the following values:

The Home page passes:

  • 33.3 to Page One
  • 33.3 to Page Two
  • 33.3 to page Three

Page One passes:

  • 11.1 to Home
  • 11.1 to Page Four
  • 11.1 to Page Five

Page Two passes:

  • 33.3 to Home

Page Three passes:

  • 16.7 to Home
  • 16.7 to Page Six

Page Four passes:

  • 5.6 to Home
  • 5.6 to Page One

Page Five passes:

  • 5.6 to Home
  • 5.6 to Page One

Page Six passes:

  • 8.4 to Home
  • 8.4 to Page Three

So at the end we end up with the following values:

  • Home – 180.7
  • Page One – 44.5
  • Page Two – 33.3
  • Page Three – 41.7
  • Page Four – 11.1
  • Page Five – 11.1
  • Page Six – 16.7

Continue reading “Internal Linking to Promote Keyword Clusters

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