Understanding Internal Linking and Redirect Chain
In the digital marketing industry, many believe that the strongest element of a web page is the content. Yes, it is true. Content is the king. But how can we make sure that the content we’re looking at is valuable and will support other pages on your website? How are you going to promote other pages without blatantly including their link in the main menu navigation? Footer navigation? The answer is you don’t. The key is to have an optimized Internal Linking Structure.
What is Internal Link?
An internal link is simply an anchor text with a hyperlink pointing to another page within the same domain. You often see them on the main menu navigation, sidebar, and footer section of the website. But these links are common and already present when you purchase a theme for your website (you just need to alter the anchors, design, etc.). What makes this link special is if you optimize and use their importance in a static content, you would then have an important anchor pointing to a relevant page within the same domain.
However, you’re probably thinking – what’s in it for you and your website?
- User-Experience (UX) – They allow the users to navigate through the content without breaking their experience, which might lead to conversion.
- Site Structure / Silo – They allow to establish hierarchical information for the site (no orphaned pages).
- Homepage Power / Authority – Power of the homepage will be shared and spread to other important/relevant inner pages. This leads to passing the power downwards, and contextual support upwards.
Setting up an internal link is easy and will not cause you any dilemma. Most of the modern websites have a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress that offer a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor and allow you to easily integrate a link to an anchor without any hassle.
For some websites without any CMS and was built within a hard coded HTML, the code is pretty simple:
<a href=”example.com/internal-linking”>Internal Linking</a>
Just always be mindful about the closing tag (</a>) cause it will be a source of trouble if not implemented properly.
However, there are still negative effects on doing this strategy which might cause your site to devalue the content and the function of links. One of them is the Redirect Chain.
What is a Redirect Chain?
A redirect chain happens when a certain website changes its domain name or URL structure with optimized 301 redirects from point A to B, C, to D or worst from A to B to C to D (mostly known as multiple hops).
The most common case for a 301 redirection is moving the domain (A) from one another pointing to the new domain (B). But keep in mind that the redirection inside the internal pages of domain A to B is different. You cannot just simply redirect all the URLs of the old domain to the root domain of the new site. You basically just wasted your time and effort there. Imagine users who are looking for a specific page from the old domain getting redirected to the root domain of the site? That is totally irrelevant, inconvenient, and misleading. You’re lucky to not have a minimum of 90% increase in your bounce rate. Make sure that the transfer should match and are not a reciprocal of one another.
Another question in mind is, “is there a limit on how many redirects that the site should have?”. The answer is NOPE. Sky is the limit, as cliché as it may sound. Even 100 thousand pages can be 301 redirected from domain A to B, permanently. Yes, you read it correctly. No turning back. If you want to make use of the page in domain B temporarily, a 302 redirect is necessary. (Well, that’s another conversation I guess). Google will always queue and process the request for a permanent redirection.
Now that we know that even 100 thousand pages can be redirected from the old domain to another (A to B domains only), there is a certain limit when multiple hops are involved (domain A permanently redirects to B then to C and then to D).
Google will follow all the redirects for about two to three domains, but they might stop if the redirects exceed four to five hops in a chain which is a very dangerous thing to occur. The latency and content value will drop and Google will not follow the links at all. Physically present, but no value at all. Kind of sucks, right?
Here’s a more thorough explanation from Matt Cutts:
- The user or website owner is not confident about their domain name. In layman’s term, the business is rebranding.
- The site security was compromised and hacked.
- De-indexed via manual penalty, or algorithmic penalty.
As long as permanent redirection is concerned, keep the redirect chain to one or two hops, domain to domain, page level to page level and this will surely result in a great user experience. Moreover, your ranking equity will flow relatively well and everything will go smoothly.