How many internal links are ok for SEO? Does too many internal links hurt your SEO?
Internal links are critical to the success of your SEO. Internal linking guides site visitors to more of your content. It exposes your pages to a wider array of users that may not have found your content otherwise.
Internal links pass authority from high-ranking pages to those with less visibility and less traffic. Connecting your pages this way enables you to share link equity, increasing your SEO performance.
Internal links also help Google’s bots crawl and index your site. The links create a web that shows Google how your site is built and how your pages relate and connect. Through internal link building, you can bolster your SEO strategy to get more traffic and higher rankings.
Like with most SEO strategies, more does not always mean better, and it can be counterproductive to your SEO efforts.
In a Google SEO office-hours from July 2021, a participant asked Mueller if creating too many internal links hurt a page’s SEO more than it helps it. Mueller replies:
Yes and no. I think, in the sense that we do use the internal links to better understand the structure of a page, and you can imagine the situation where if we’re trying to understand the structure of a website, with the different pages that are out there, if all pages are linked to all other pages on the website, where you essentially have like a complete internal linking across every single page, then there’s no real structure there.
It’s like this one giant mass of pages for this website, and they’re all interlinked, we can’t figure out which one is the most important one. We can’t figure out which one of these are related to each other. And in a case like that, having all of those internal links, that’s not really doing your site that much.
So regardless of what PageRank, and authority, and passing things like that, you’re essentially not providing a clear structure of the website. And that makes it harder for search engines to understand the context of the individual pages within your website. So that’s the way that I would look at it there.
Adding too many internal links eliminates Google’s ability to determine your site structure accurately. In addition, Mueller notes that excessive internal linking makes it harder for Google to index your site correctly, negatively impacting your SEO efforts.
In addition to ruining site structure and confusing Google’s crawlers, excessive internal linking reduces the value of your pages. A clear site structure informs Google which pages you think are most important and relevant.
When you add too many internal links on your site, each page shares authority, and Google cannot determine which pages you deem most valuable. This results in less visibility for these pages in the search results. Mueller elaborates:
And similar to the second question you had there, with regards to internal links doing more harm than good — yes, if you do dilute the value of your site structure by having so many internal links that we don’t see a structure anymore, then that does make it harder for us to understand what you think is important on your website.
And I think providing that relative sense of importance is sometimes really valuable, because it gives you a little bit more opportunity to kind of fine tune how you’d like to be present in the search results.
If you tell search engines pretty clearly and directly, well this is my primary page, and from there you link to different categories and the categories link to different products, then it’s a lot easier for us to understand that if someone is looking for this category of product, this is that page that we should be showing in the search results.
Whereas if everything is cross-linked then it’s like, well any of these pages could be relevant. And then maybe we’ll send the user to some random product instead of to your category page when you’re actually looking for a category of products.
Internal links boost your site’s visibility and rankings. They’re a basic part of a successful SEO strategy. But knowing when and where to place them is key. Carefully and intentionally build internal links to earn traffic without compromising site structure or page authority.