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Google’s John Mueller reaffirms the importance of internal linking

March 17, 2022 0 comments

In a recent Google Search Central SEO Office Hours session, Google’s John Mueller once again reaffirmed the importance of internal linking and how it should be used to direct Google to things that are most important.

SEO internal linking

Is Breadcrumb Structured Data enough?

During the session, one participant initiated this conversation. The person asked if HTML internal linking is even needed if the Breadcrumb Structured Data is already in place?

“If you have structured data for breadcrumbs set up, is internal linking still important for SEO?”

Internal links are “super critical” for SEO

John Mueller confirmed that internal linking is still important.

“Yes, absolutely. It’s something where internal linking is super critical for SEO.

John also elaborated further and explained the idea behind using internal links, i.e., to guide Google and website visitors to other areas of your website that you feel are important.

“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,” said John. 

“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.

At this point, John directly addressed the question once more and clarified that Breadcrumb Structured Data is not an alternative for internal links. 


Critical Internal Links

“And that’s not something that you can just replace with structured data.

So, just because there is structured data on 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 you can highlight that with your internal linking.”

Internal links have always played a major role in search rankings and page optimisation, but it is surprising how underrated they have been. In that regard, it is important to have John Mueller reaffirm the crucial role internal links play in overall SEO.

If you want to listen to the full conversation, you can click here to watch the timestamped video.