SEO and internal links

Hi all,

I’ve sifted through the FAQs and can’t find anything that specifically addresses my question. I have a client who is the marketing director for a hospital. He is having a woman who works for him comb through the site to find keywords that could be linked to various places. For the most part they are links to articles in the corporate (hospital is part of a system) education library (therefore external). I thought this seemed fine as the links could be valuable and improve the user experience which, as I understand it, is good for SEO.

However, she has now started doing odd things. The hospital has a Spine Center. Within the Spine Center portion of the website there are physician bios. Each bio lists which facilities the docs work out of. Some docs work out of a number of locations and we have links to the sites for those locations. But some only work at this facility and she is asking me to link to the Spine Center home page from within the docs bio that is within the Spine Center. That just seems wrong and certainly doesn’t serve the visitor. But, would it be seen as a link to the Spine center containing the keyword “spine” even though it is an internal link? Does it being internal invalidate it?

OK, I didn’t mean this to be so long but if you’ve read this far, one more question. Do I need to counsel them against the outbound links to the educational content? How many is too many?

Apologies for the length but I do find I get more complete/more useful answers when I give more detail. Thank you in advance to anyone who can help me out.


You’re right - linking internally does help the user. It’s a great way for the user to find additional content. Wikipedia does this and it’s proven effective.

I’m not sure that you’re going to see any boost in your rankings from this though. Sure, it may help the spiders find more of your content because you’re presenting more links, but it’s not creating more link juice for you.

Linking to 3rd parties is always a tough decision. Generally the more cautious companies will display a message indicating that the user is leaving their website. Somehow they think this protects them. I would use 3rd parties sparingly. If you can simply place the important 3rd party information within your website, giving credit to them of course, then you could cut down how many outbound links you have.

Thanks Hyperbolink (Jeff?),

I guess I am most curious about the effect, positive or negative, of linking to the Spine Center home page from one of bios inside the Spine Center. To me it negatively impacts the visitor experience but the visitor can simply choose to ignore the links. I think for external links I am going to start using the rel=“nofollow” that I had seen used as a toggle for unobtrusive javascript but didn’t know bots/spiders were paying any attention to.

I think linking to the content rather than bringing it over is a cost saving measure. Re-creating all the pages would be a nightmare and any content updates to the linked content would mean re-creating the pages every time the content provider made a change.

Any other opinions on the SEO aspects of any of this?

  1. Don’t use nofollow on your internal content links - you’re effectively removing the ‘vote’ to that page, diminishing it’s (the target page) value
  2. Link prolifically to your own internal content using keyworded anchor text. Remember only the first link on a single page counts though
  3. Internal links can be just as powerful as external ones.

Thanks for the info… This cleared my doubts…

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Seriocomic hit it on the head. If you look at the strength of the page you’re linking from that will dictate how much “juice” it passes to the page you’re linking to. Of course if you’ve got a ton of links on a given page you’ll dilute the effect

Not really. From a usability perspective, yes they are. But I’m assuming that you’re referring to powerful from a search engine ranking perspective.

A 3rd party link (that isn’t nofollow) will send link juice to your website. This is obviously the entire point of 3rd party backlinks. However, if you’re linking internally it’s just redistributing your link juice - not creating any more.