Common SEO advice is that internal links are powerful. Aside from that, they are links that are easier to build and you have control of them since they are built on your site. But are they really powerful? If so, how powerful exactly?
If internal links are only 1/10th as powerful as backlinks, then perhaps a better use of one’s time, energy, and resources should be used in building backlinks instead of internal links.
In this test, we check if internal links are powerful, and if they are, how powerful they are when compared to backlinks.
For this test, seven pages were built and indexed. An external link from a Google doc was sent to the #2 ranking page.
Internal links were created, one per week, without a silo structure, and pointed to the 3rd ranking page.
Another set of internal links were created, one per week, with a silo structure and pointed to the 4th ranking page.
efore starting this test, we assumed that an backlink with a DA of 100 (Google doc) would be a lot more powerful than internal links built on a brand new site (i.e. it would take a lot of internal links to beat the external link and therefore a better use of one’s time should be spent building external links).
Hence, we were pleasantly surprised to see that it took just two internal links (using a silo structure) to beat the external link – proving that internal links are relatively powerful.
This test was actually a second attempt at this test. In the first attempt it took 5 internal links before the test page outranked the control page (the control page had nothing done to it). This highlights that the strength of internal links is really only within a silo structure. Internal links without a silo structure are relatively weak and we’ve seen in this test how the page where the non-silo’d internal links were being built to was dropped from the listings and never returned.
In this video, Clint discussed this test and his outlook on internal links.
Test number 56 – Determine the Relative Strength of an Internal Link
What we’re really talking about here, at the end of the day, is silos and silo structure and there’s been a lot of people since the advent of silos – and I think Bruce Clay is probably one of the first people to actually publish about it. But there’s been a lot of people, attractors and detractors to the concept. And semantic SEO, it’s a nice coin term for keyword clusters and topic clusters and all that stuff becomes top of mind, silos are actually back and flavor.
At the end of the day, what you’re doing is you’re creating a set of content, and one that I show a lot and as a point of reference is my Bellevue SEO page on digitalLear.com. Bellevue SEO was the top of the silo and then I have some topic pieces underneath it that are not related to SEO but more related towards the city of Bellevue because I’m going for proximity and if you’re in Bellevue, you see that I have this Bellevue content and so when you search for Bellevue SEO, I’m more likely to show it.
It actually worked pretty well, I was on page one for a while. Some negative SEO campaigns and some link stuff, and it kind of knocked everything down but no big deal. The point of the experiment, in that case that silo was an experiment to see if it was going to work and I can replicate it on bigger and better sites. So what happened is the silo boosted it up and I was actually ranking page one, top three, without any external backlinks. And that was a perfect case scenario for me and that’s something that I want to repeat.
In this test, it was an external link against the silo and essentially, the silo beat the external link. And keep in mind, this is a Google Doc link, not necessarily some superstar link at the end of the day, and it is a fake keyword.
So if you’re comparing, let’s say, if it was a really good backlink from a big site, my guess is it would have been flipped around and the external link would have beat the internal link because it’s a testing site, that’s a good site, etc. So you kind of get where I’m going with that.
But when you’re doing the silos, and you’re doing optimized content, and let’s say you’re using a tool like Surfer, or Inlinks, or a combination thereof, where it is like something that I teach, you can get a really good initial ranking just from your internal linking, and save money on external links. So if you’ve been around in the market, now you know the backlinks are expensive because the good ones, people know the value of their websites.
That’s thanks to people doing a lot of outreach and sending emails about outreach, etc. So webmasters have gotten smart and just monetized their websites. If you want to do a guest post, sure, do a guest post, but it’s gonna cost you 250 bucks, and people are paying that now, a lot. And if you go to any backlinking service or pbn service, you know that people are paying that amount of money for a backlink.
If your external linking costs tripled, let say it used to cost you 50 bucks, and now it’s going to cost you 1000 bucks. You want to find the best opportunities to get as far enough ahead as you can without having to go broke. Some markets, you just going to have to go broke at the end of the day. But for the most part, especially if you’re in the small business market and you’re doing a lot of local things, internal silos will get you up to page one.
For the most part, obviously, if you’re in some more competitive markets, you’ll get to page two. But that’s better than starting off in like position 50 and having the to build all those backlinks to compete, versus starting off in position 15 and now you have to build less backlinks to get up on page one.
So that’s why this test is actually really important. The strength of internal links is powerful, even on a brand new site, even if it’s got zero history. It’s still powerful if you do it right and you build these silos out and you can save yourself a lot of money on those external links.
This test is still valuable. I think the relative strength of your website is going to be different than the relative strength of someone else’s website, or even one domain that you own versus another. So you’re going to see different results from doing this yourself.
My method is to build your money page and then you build four internal pages that contain supporting content. The content can either be on topic or on location. So like I said, if you’re targeting Bellevue, for example, I can rank for SEO related posts or I can do for related to Bellevue itself and drive that traffic. This one is probably better, just because it’s related, etc. Right? But there’s just some niches that there’s only so much you can write about the topic, right? So in my case, it’s an SEO blog or an SEO website and so I want to write high quality content. So it kind of stands on its own on a blog versus doing silos and weak writing on different SEO topics. So I focused on location, my guess is I would actually have gotten even better results if I went with the topic, but I focused on location and it’s just fine. I know that four plus or minus, one or two is going to be my sweet spot for my internal links. And then at that point, I had to go on to move and do external, I can’t avoid it.
So test it yourself, see where your page count is and then you know, when you are doing your money site, you’re gonna have to do 4, 5, 3, 2 internal links and to squeeze as much juice, as much power, and as much initial ranking out of that site as you can before you go and start investing money in the external stuff.