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Do Internal Links Lead To Penguin Slap / Algorithm-Based Penalties?

     

Planet13

8:55 pm on Jul 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Does anyone have any evidence (or strong suspicions) that over-aggressive INTERNAL linking can lead to either the de-indexing of a page or a serious Penguin / Algorithm slap?

After analyzing external back links pointing TO our site, it appears that the page that suffered the most damage had ONLY two back links; one questionable, one from a major US news outlet.

However, this page has the highest number of INTERNAL links pointing at it, and the INTERNAL anchor text is optimized.

Planet13

3:17 pm on Jul 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@ indyank:

Planet13, how does your e-commerce page look? doesn't it have information on the product in the form of specs, features, pictures, prices etc?


Well, the FIRST ecommerce page (the page that is linked from the informational pages) isa category level page, so it has about 12 individual blue widgets linked to from the blue_widgets.html page. The blue_widgets.html has just the names, a photo, price, and a link to the detailed product pages. Plus the blue_widgets.html has about a paragraph of opening text about our particular blue widgets, and a paragraph of footer text (near the bottom of the page) as well. This is typical layout for all the ecommerce sites that rank well for the keyword blue widgets.

The detailed pages (such as porecelain-blue-widget.html) have more detail about the individual product (how it is made, it's weight, it's significance, more photos, etc.,)

So overall, I would say it is pretty typical of an ecommerce page that has a category level -> individual product level structure.

indyank

3:25 pm on Jul 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Well, the FIRST ecommerce page (the page that is linked from the informational pages) isa category level page, so it has about 12 individual blue widgets linked to from the blue_widgets.html page. The blue_widgets.html has just the names, a photo, price, and a link to the detailed product pages. Plus the blue_widgets.html has about a paragraph of opening text about our particular blue widgets, and a paragraph of footer text (near the bottom of the page) as well. This is typical layout for all the ecommerce sites that rank well for the keyword blue widgets.

The detailed pages (such as porecelain-blue-widget.html) have more detail about the individual product (how it is made, it's weight, it's significance, more photos, etc.,)

So overall, I would say it is pretty typical of an ecommerce page that has a category level -> individual product level structure.


so why do you feel that linking to that category page doesn't sound good? It does seem to lead the user to a variety of products for that category that have more information of interest to the user. You even seem to be stating the user and the conversion metrics is good. So doesn't it all sound positive for the user and hence Google?

Planet13

4:00 pm on Jul 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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so why do you feel that linking to that category page doesn't sound good? It does seem to lead the user to a variety of products for that category that have more information of interest to the user. You even seem to be stating the user and the conversion metrics is good. So doesn't it all sound positive for the user and hence Google?


Well, it SOUNDS good, but again, it is all part of the mystery of why the (old) blue-widgets.html page stopped ranking for "blue widgets", then my home page stopped ranking for "blue widgets" and the new blue_widgets.html never ranked for blue widgets.

indyank

4:05 pm on Jul 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Hmm...you haven't stated the period for which it ranked. Was it ranking for long and dropped recently?

If their ranking was only for a few days/months, it could even be other reasons like google promoting the page to see whether users like them,attracts more links, etc. If it were not doing well against the benchmarks, they might have moved it to where it need to be.

Planet13

7:59 pm on Jul 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@ indyank

"Hmm...you haven't stated the period for which it ranked. Was it ranking for long and dropped recently?"


It started ranking on third page around Feb 2011, moving up to second page a few months later, and then being in the number 9 - number 8 organic spot on page 1.

It's peak in terms of entrances was around April 14, 2012.

But by May 6, 2012, it had been decimated; it was getting only about 1/10th the entrances that it was previously getting.

Somewhere around 12th of April, 2012, the HOME PAGE started ranking for the term "blue widgets", and the blue-widgets.html page STOPPED ranking for that term. In essence, the number 8 position (where my blue-widgets.html page used to rank) in the serps was replaced by my homepage.

Then sometime around November 30th, 2012, EVERYTHING stopped ranking for the keyword "blue widgets".

"If their ranking was only for a few days/months, it could even be other reasons like google promoting the page to see whether users like them,attracts more links, etc. If it were not doing well against the benchmarks, they might have moved it to where it need to be."


In short, the blue-widgets.html page was ranking for nearly a year for the term "blue widgets", moving up from 3rd page to page 1.

Then the index page replaced it for about 8 month (although it slipped gradually from page 1 to page 2)

Then it was gone. Poof!

(unfortunately I am using google analytics which obscured the search term because I can't find my old keyword ranking reports from a third party rank tracker.)

Kelowna

11:21 pm on Jul 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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one from a major US news outlet.


And you dont think that is hurting you? If you play where the spammers play you may get treated as one. That is old school stuff that even the good blackhats avoid now. Before Google went after those kind of links they worked great! Everyone was selling them but google got wise to those News sites a long time ago.

It's always the links with Google, external and internal.

Planet13

11:28 pm on Jul 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@ Kelowna:

"one from a major US news outlet."


I am fairly certain that PBS is NOT one of the news outlets that has sold links in exchange for page rank.

And no, I had nothing to do with getting that link. They just happened to like the content because it was something similar to a PBS documentary they made at the time.

(for those not in the USA, PBS stands for Public Broadcasting System.)

I think i might also have a link from Huffington post to that page as well. Again, never had anything to do with the link. they just happened to link to it in the course of one of their posts.

indyank

3:06 am on Jul 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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But neither of those links are now pointing to the new page. You have removed the earlier page and introduced a new one without a 301 redirect. Google was ranking the page you deleted and not the new page.

I guess you are expecting the new page to rank after your other page had been removed, as you saw the home page ranking that way before. . There is a chance that you might rank this new page, if you get a few good external links.

But the deletion of the old page without a 301 redirect has changed the game and if Google still retains both copies in their DB, it might even take time to sort out the fact they aren't duplicates.

Planet13

4:23 am on Jul 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@ indyank:

But the deletion of the old page without a 301 redirect has changed the game and if Google still retains both copies in their DB, it might even take time to sort out the fact they aren't duplicates.


Ahh... thanks for bringing that up. Something I did not think about.

graeme_p

1:14 pm on Jul 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@EditorialGuy, I am not looking for a number, I am looking for a methodology.

In my case the site has lots of internal links on each page to related pages (Wikipedia style). That should not be a problem, but it may be.

Planet13

3:52 pm on Jul 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@ graeme_p:

If I remember correctly tedster brought that up a few years ago about a site that tried to link wikipedia style, and that it failed miserably.

But I don't unfortunately know what the methodology is for determing how many links one can have. I think at the time he ventured that the more page rank you have, the more internal links you could get a way with.

graeme_p

5:46 pm on Jul 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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A few years ago my site was doing fine!

It it got hit by something in January last year. The timing looked like Panda.

I suspect the more PR you have, the more you can get away with is probably right. My internal pages mostly have a toolbar PR of 3, and most have 3 to 6 (it can be anywhere from zero to 20 though) in-content links, plus navigation and link to category. Seems reasonable to me.

EditorialGuy

6:22 pm on Jul 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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It's hard to imagine why Google would penalize (manually or algorithmically) for internal links. After all, internal links dilute PageRank for each link, so what would a search spammer gain by a heavy-handed use of internal links? Plus, there may be legitimate reasons for using plenty of internal links instead of forcing users to drill up, down, and around as they navigate the site.

Planet13

7:49 pm on Jul 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@ graeme_p:

My internal pages mostly have a toolbar PR of 3, and most have 3 to 6 (it can be anywhere from zero to 20 though) in-content links, plus navigation and link to category. Seems reasonable to me.


I am going to go out on a limb and state that google is probably quite good at looking at the links in the navigation bar, category tree, breadcrubs, etc (i.e., general navigation links), and that if you have any problem DUE TO INTERNAL LINKS it would be from the internal links.

I say that because we have seen google implement "above the fold" updates, which require google to better understand page layout, as well as recognizing breadcrumb links, which again requires an understanding of where one page section (navigation) ends and where "content" begins.

So I wouldn't worry so much about the navigation links.

Have you used your analytics to see how often users CLICK those links?

graeme_p

8:04 pm on Jul 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I probably need to check properly, but a quick look suggest well over 10% (probably about 20%) of visitors click on at least one in-content link.

That is more than click on navigation links (yes, the site does have a high bounce rate, but that is probably inevitable given the content, and that most visitors come from very specific searches).

graeme_p

8:09 pm on Jul 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I also wonder whether my placing the category link below the content, rather than above, may be a problem.

Saffron

4:43 am on Jul 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'm removing mine. They weren't there for SEO purposes, but my site is still dropping and I'm getting desperate now. I've looked at the site that has been ranking no. 1 for almost all topics and it has links to the side & at the end of articles, but not in them. So I'm going to copy them, see if that helps.

Once again, I'm reduced to spending time doing stuff like this instead of actually adding content.

graeme_p

7:00 am on Jul 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Saffron, I found several articles suggesting content silos for Panda recovery, so I changed my site navigation to emphasise categories rather than the alphabetic index I previously used - I have not removed any page, but added more links to category pages and reduced the presence of the alphabetic index in navigation.

Perhaps something like that may suit your site?

Saffron

7:12 am on Jul 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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What do you mean by content silos?

My site has dropped another 12% overnight. I've worked so hard trying to save it, and it continues to slide. I'm desperate, we're about to lose everything. I'm devastated.

If I had articles on <health>, under <"symptoms of a disease"> I might write...

<aches>
<pains>
<fever>

And each of those symptoms would have a link to the article on aches, pains, fever etc.
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 8:43 am (utc) on Jul 5, 2013]
[edit reason] examplified specifics [/edit]

graeme_p

8:56 am on Jul 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I know how you feel!

Content silos means arranging content around themes or categories: either in the navigation or URL structure.

In my case it was fairly easy: I already had a category structure so I just needed to make that primary and the alphabetic index of everything secondary.

A search on Start Page for "content silo" gave me a lot of links, including a fairly good how-to.

Robert Charlton

9:12 am on Jul 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Alphabetical categories, while a valid form of classification, aren't often helpful for SEO.

They're necessary for something like a dictionary... but themes and categories are generally much more useful both for search engines and for users.

graeme_p

2:10 pm on Jul 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Roberts, exactly. I am considering dropping them the alphabetic index altogether, but have not gone that far yet.

Planet13

2:09 pm on Jul 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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"@exactly. I am considering dropping them the alphabetic index altogether, but have not gone that far yet."

It might be good to have a single page where people subjects are listed alphabetically (even in a tag cloud if feasible?), and then have one link that says, "see ALL categories"

Just a thought.

graeme_p

6:58 am on Jul 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@Planet, I am sort of doing that.

What I had:

A-B on home page, alpahbetic index broken into sections (e.g. D-H, I-O) each with its own page. Each had a snippet of explanatory text, all wrapped in a <DL>. Each page was linked to in the navigation. The navigation also linked to a categories page, that listed categories ordered by subject.

What I now have.

Categories plus a few other links on the home page.
An "alphabetic index" link in the navigation.
Alphabetic index pages have extra navigation linking to each other.

What has not changed:

Lots of in-content internal links
link to category (occasionally categories) at the bottom of each page.

graeme_p

1:14 pm on Jul 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Correction, above should read, re the alpha index pages "each link to a page had a snippet for explanatory tag, and the content was in a <dl>

Gemini23

9:10 pm on Aug 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Taking Wiki as being a model that IS acceptable to Google... "EXACT MATCH" internal linking is very normal within Wiki... with any international superstar.... film actor for example... their name will be the most commonly used internal link and surely nothing wrong with that.

I did watch a video with Matt Cutts talking about internal linking but I cannot find it...

JD_Toims

10:46 pm on Aug 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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each link to a page had a snippet for explanatory tag, and the content was in a <dl>

A quick note on HTML. If you're using HTML5 <dl> is a "description list" and if you're wanting to define terms specifically the <dfn> tag may be something you want to use, depending on your specific situation and what you're trying to communicate, of course.

There's an explanation and a few examples here:
http://www.w3.org/html/wg/drafts/html/master/grouping-content.html#the-dl-element

[Link broken to keep the fragment identifier intact.]

rajeshth02

11:19 am on Aug 24, 2013 (gmt 0)



Not slap but yes some benefit. Actually when you write an article and interlink with related pages then its beneficial but on the other hand if you do the linking only for ranking purpose then it can hurt you. Don't use your main keyword for interlinking, always use related keywords.

turbocharged

1:32 pm on Aug 24, 2013 (gmt 0)



Actually when you write an article and interlink with related pages then its beneficial but on the other hand if you do the linking only for ranking purpose then it can hurt you.

This makes no sense to me. If you are interlinking to related pages on your site it should have no ill effects. Where I think people do go overboard is overusing the same link text. For example, we often help direct our client's users to their help page. Many different link text variations are used throughout the sites. While on some pages we may use help as the link text, on others we use support, assistance, etc.

Using the same technique of linking as noted above, throughout many different sites, I can safely say it is not the "make or break" factor for ranking keywords on page one. In fact, a number of these client sites have been obliterated by Google even though the content they have is superior to the other sources Google has determined to be worthy of ranking on page one. A number of these other sites I have looked at all use the same link text when linking to other pages within their sites (outside of typical navigation bars). With quality content and no spam links on the client sites, my conclusion is that Google simply wants to direct traffic to specific websites for reasons outside of quality. I believe the financial influences of today's SERPS are not easily overcome if you are a small business that does not have Google products/services embedded in your sites. Even if you do, they may not offer Google the same ROI if they ranked other sites that are more financially productive. Keep in mind financially productive extends well beyond people clicking on Adsense ads. Enhanced data mining capabilities may offer Google even greater value in the long-term.

Panda, penguin, and the conflicting penalties chatter coming out of Google are nothing more than an illusion to confuse the webmaster community of Google's true intents. Despite great efforts by many, few reported recoveries have been observed. And I mean very few. Those who have "recovered" are often in industries which are not easily monetized by Google (information, etc.). Instead of hacking your internal linking structure up, and wasting countless hours doing so in hopes of attaining a recovery, a more productive use of time would be to focus on breaking ones dependence on Google.

deeper

10:17 am on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@turbocharged:
It is natural to have pages focused on a certain topic and therefore using just one or two KWs. Let us say, a page is clearly focused on blue widgets.
Therefore it would be natural to link internally with "blue widgets". It is the correct content of the linked page, it is descriptive, it is good for the user. So how can it be a reason for problems?

Indyrank gave the link where Matt Cutts very clearly explained that internal linking with KWs usually is no problem. He even stressed why doing it is a good idea. Why nobody here wants to believe? MC usually does not say all or is vague, but he is not a conscious liar.
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