[Video] Creating Your Site's Internal Link Structure for Google and Searchers

This video is a bit longer than some of the earlier videos, clocking in at 9 minutes and 39 seconds.

  • The Dual Roles of Navigation: Navigation needs to be user friendly and search engine friendly. If you want a user to pay attention to an offer you have to link to it with a call to action in the content area of the page. If you want search engines to pay attention to a page you have to link to it on important pages and/or from many pages. In general it is also better usability and better for your rankings to use descriptive (or keyword rich) text links over image links for your primary navigation, and in most in content links on your site.
  • Navigation Should Parallel Keyword Strategy: Your primary site navigation should be aligned with keyword categories, structured in related groups that capture keywords along the entire purchase cycle. If you have navigation that is not aligned with your keywords (like date based archives or an about page) you can use nofollow on it to prevent passing link equity through that portion of your site. You may also want to demote sections of your site that convert exceptionally poor relative to the better performing options.
  • Examples of Channeling Link Equity: Some websites, such as Target.com, show Google more navigation than they show end users to promote seasonally hot items. Other sites, like Chocolate.com, chose to use nofollow on unimportant internal links to de-emphasize unimportant options. You can view the nofollowed links on Chocolate.com by viewing their site with SEO for Firefox turned on. In some cases it also makes sense to use nofollow on user generated content to lessen the incentive for driveby spamming.
  • Clean & Clear Structure: If you author many pages about the same topic it is important to link to the most important articles in order to emphasize them, and use breadcrumb navigation to help structure the site and show what pages are most important.
  • Duplicate content: Google likes webmasters to believe that Google has duplicate content figured out, but if they have multiple similar pages indexed you are splitting your PageRank and they may rank the wrong version. Make sure you do not place the same (or exceptionally similar) content on multiple pages. Stuntdubl has a good list of resources for dealing with duplicate content.
  • Subdomains: If you have logical breaks in your content you may want to use subdomains to create smaller focused mini sites. If you have a strong brand you can get a bit more aggressive with subdomains, like eBay is.
  • More: Here are some more internal linking tips from a prior post on the topic.
Published: November 2, 2007 by Aaron Wall in videos


Brent Wilson
November 2, 2007 - 8:23am

Found this video especially interesting as I am struggling with finding a correct site structure right now.

Also, not sure where to post this, this link returns a blank white page for me: http://www.seobook.com/archives/cat_marketing.shtml My guess is php is running out of memory.

November 2, 2007 - 8:48am

Thanks for the heads up Brent. I will look into that issue.

Real Estate Mar...
November 2, 2007 - 12:21pm

Aaron, just want to thank you for these new string of tutorial videos you are adding.

They are extremely helpful. I am actually using them for training for my employees here.

I would eventually like to add some to our blog site:


Hopefully soon we will be able to develop a nice library of these as you do.

Please keep it up, we love em!

November 2, 2007 - 1:04pm


Really enjoying the videos and looking forward to the update you are working on for us SEOBOOK owners.

Can the use of no follow be effective for a small website (10-20 pages)? As I am looking to make the most of my link equity to rank high for my keywords. Hopefully this is a strategy that works for us small guys not just the big sites.


November 2, 2007 - 6:17pm

If you have straight sitewide links to an about page and a privacy policy page and a terms of service page and a shopping cart page, etc...you can use up a lot of your link equity on pages that are unneeded from a ranking standpoint.

Aaron Stroud
November 4, 2007 - 1:09am


Keep the videos coming. They're a nice change, especially since you've included a list of video highlights.

If sitewide links to about, copyright, privacy policy, etc pages burn up a lot of link equity, would it make sense to only link to these pages once from the home page or perhaps the sitemap?

What about concerns of Google frowning on internal "nofollow" use?

November 4, 2007 - 1:46am

I think if the site is fairly clean with a good design, high content quality, and organic backlink profile then you are good to go...especially if it looks and/or feels corporate owned and controlled.

If there is lots of gray and black scattered in those areas and/or the site looks thin affiliate, then I would stear clear of using nofollow on internal links.

November 2, 2007 - 4:53pm

Great video, thanks for taking the time to share the information. I have been working on removing duplicate content through using my robots.txt file, your reference to categories being indexed made me think that "some" duplicate content is ok?

I don't actively use my categories anymore, just my tags, but perhaps I should re-think about the disallow: /tag/ in my robots.txt so they will be indexed. My purpose was to avoid almost all duplicate content.

Thanks again, Scott

November 2, 2007 - 6:19pm

Yeah...due to CMS issues most every large site has some amount of duplication.

You can use tags or categories to help keep yur site indexed. You might even find a way to use both if you want to. The mechanism you use does not matter as much as how you use it. Like you could use categories and use them well or poorly. And you could use tags and use them well or poorly.

November 2, 2007 - 10:21pm

Hi Aaron,

I'm really diggin' the SEO videos...=)

I have a question about subdomains, if you have 2 identical pages, with the only difference being one is located on a subdomain, and the other is a subpage, is one better than the other for optimization purposes? And I know you sited ebay as an example of a giant successfully utilizing subdomains, but can a site possibly be penalized or viewed by the SE's as spammy by using too many subdomains for their product page?

Your thoughts are appreciated...

November 2, 2007 - 10:55pm

I don't think it benefits you to duplicate the content and publish it at both locations. At the very least that is splitting your link equity. If you were to do that you would at least want to come up with a slightly different version of the page with a reason for having the separate grouping (like maybe one page for buyers and one page for sellers).

Much of the search engine duplicate content game is about perception. And the other bits are just thinking through how link equity flows around your site.

November 5, 2007 - 3:43am

Hi Aaron,

I apologize for not being clear, but we actually did not publish the content on both a subdomain & subpage, we had the content originally on a subdomain, were ranking well, then all of a sudden lost almost all our traffic from Google, and it was believed we were using subdomains too agressively, so we moved all those pages that were on subdomains, to subpages. Since then our traffic has bounced back a little bit, but nothing compared to what it was like before. So we are wondering if using subdomains could have really been the reason for the original loss in traffic...

Thanks again for your original reply...=)

August 26, 2008 - 4:29pm

At 2:20 in the video you mention that Target.com uses "hidden content" in their navigation (and they won't get "nuked" because of their large advertising agreements with Google). In fact, it IS part of their core navigation to include product examples under their product categories. Take a look at their content before disabling style sheets then draw your conclusions.

It is small things like this that can make large holes in your credibility. I quit watching your video at that point.

August 26, 2008 - 5:13pm

Sorry dude but you are missing the point. If you were to disable CSS on one of my sites and see an extra 200 links appear on the page my site would get killed.

Target is not going to get killed because of their brand size and ad spend. Mom and pop webmaster does the same thing and they would be considered a spammer.

August 5, 2009 - 4:10am

Hi Aaron,
Based on the latest news from Matt at Google, what has changed on use of no follow to direct equity?

I would assume it is now about more, better (relevant, with targeted, yet varied anchor text) internal links to the page you want to rank best.


August 5, 2009 - 3:08pm

Well I haven't found any significant lift from varying internal anchor text.

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