Internal links navigation – optimization

After the Image optimization tutorial, we almost closed the topic with the visible part of the on-page optimization. The last thing affecting both search engines and the visitors are the navigation links on the site.

There are two types of links.

Internal – linking to other pages on your site.

External – linking to pages outside your domain.

We will start with:

Internal links navigation

If you have websites with several sub-sub directories and deep content pages (as it is on this website), and you want all pages well crawled, cached and to get enough emphasis, you will need good internal link popularity.
Links directly from the home page of the site or with already high ranked pages usually do really well, and boosts the link’s value.

The most important factor here is to use keywords in the links. The same is with links pointing to files and pictures. They should contain keywords too.

I gave you example in the tutorial about the image optimization, and I will repeat that again:

If you have link to page, image or file, use links like: Keyword Proximity. Do not use links saying Click here >>, as such kind of links are not providing much information to the search engines and do not add weight to the page.

Such intra-site linking is really good for lower level pages, because they are not often visited by the SE crawlers, which goes to the next point effectiveness of the links.

Links efficient is different for the different search engines. At this moment Google follows the links tree structure not more than four steps. What I mean? Take a look at the next links tree structure used by the Google crawlers:

Internal links navigation - optimization

You can see how the crawler is stopped for the protected area and the area disabled by robots.txt or robots META tag.
At the fourth level the crawler stops considering the next pages as "too deep".

Also not crawled are these pages which are generated on-the-fly by CGI or other scripts.
And all unlinked and unadvertised pages are not crawled as well.

Let’s say that you have just launched a new website. There is a home page, and the rest Internal links are sub-pages linked next to the other, as it is shown on the next picture:

Internal links navigation - optimization

When for the first time search engine crawler comes to the site, it will examine the ‘Home’ page, then will go to the page2 – page3 – page4 in the first column. There the crawler will stop and will go to (actually it is doing it in the same time) page2(1) – page3(1) – page4(1) in the middle column, then to the page2(2) – page3(2) – page4(2) in the third column, etc.

Imagine the crawler like water flowing down into separate holes and the water debit decrease when it enters into each hole.
There will be another ‘flood’ when the crawler comes next time and it can fill the other ‘holes’, but till then the holes should be ‘full of water’ (the pages should be ranked), before continue to more internal links.

Until this time the ‘water’ (crawler) will not go further unless if there is a hole to Page7(2) for example, direct internal link to it.

Internal links navigation - optimization

After the 41st link on the home page it will stop. Take in mind I am speaking about for this very moment, when the tutorial is posted, and the circumstance may have changed already.

When we started this site, especially the Google crawler was going as far as he can, but consider this:
There are about 210,126,253 web pages (as per NET Craft) in the whole net and they are growing with about 400,000 each month.

So, it is rather impossible all the domains, in private, all the Internal web page links to be crawled.

Maybe it looks too complicated, but basically do not wait for further crawling if the pages: page4-page4(1)-page4(2) – are not already ranked and the crawler is not ‘filling’ them on a daily basis.
Or, make an internal links between the pages that are already ranked by the search engine and those who are not yet. For example, on the above image, you can link page3(2) with page5(1), and/or link page1 with both page6(1) and page7(2).

Another trick that can be officially used is to make Sitemap. This is something that maybe you already have, or not, but it is important as the crawler goes directly to the pages inside the domain. The next picture is showing a part of our sitemap:

Internal links navigation - optimization

The rules here are the same for crawling internal pages, but Google, and other search engines claim that they are using the sitemap for better internal linking (probably they are going more far than as usual).

So, try to make your pages with good internal linking as per the advices I gave you, but do not over do with the numbers.
Google advice about ”Design and content guidelines” is:
"Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100)."

I intend to update frequently the new requirements and changes here, but who knows what decision the search engines will take without a warning.

We will continue with the next tutorial about external links optimization.

Filed Under: Google

Anthony Gee About the Author: Anthony G. is an IT specialist with more than 9 years of solid working experience in the Web Hosting industry. Currently works as server support administrator, involved in consultative discussions about Web Hosting and server administration. One of the first writers in the Onlinehowto.net website, now writing for Free Tutorials community - he is publishing tutorials and articles for the wide public, as well as specific technical solutions.

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