Improve internal linking for SEO: Calculate Internal PageRank
Columnist Paul Shapiro shares his method for determining what pages on your site might be seen as authoritative by search engines, based on a metric he calls "Internal PageRank."
Your site architecture — the way you structure and organize internal links (e.g., a link to the About Us section of your website from your main navigation) — plays a vital role in how both users and search engines are able to navigate your website, ultimately impacting your website’s rankings.
Modern search engines use links to crawl the web. The crawlers used by these search engines click on each link that appears on a page — both internal links and external links — and then all the links on each subsequent page, and so on. This allows the search engines to find your pages and rank them in their indices.
Search engines such as Google also use the number of links to rank query results, considering each link as a vote of importance for a page (i.e., PageRank).
For this reason, the way you link the pages on your website plays a big role in how search engines crawl, understand and rank your site. As an SEO practitioner, how do you make sure your site architecture is optimal and that internal links are organized correctly? Let’s explore how calculating a metric I call Internal PageRank can help us with this task.
Basic site architecture and navigation-based internal links
There are two basic types of internal links:
- The internal links that form your site’s navigational structure
- The secondary internal links that appear in context throughout your site (in articles and other places that aren’t necessarily a product of your site’s navigational structure)
Let’s look at the former. The first step to getting your internal links in order is to organize common navigation elements and adhere to a well-organized site structure. I recommend creating a classic internal linking structure and utilizing Bruce Clay’s silo architecture as a foundation for internal links. These are tried and tested, logical site structures that work.
Now that your site has a solid foundation for internal links, let’s take a look at how these navigational links, as well as the internal links that exist in context, might impact how the search engines crawl and rank your pages. To look at the overall internal linking impact, we will examine the internal PageRank of all the pages.
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