Google has warned against trying to “game the algorithm” when using internal linking as it will always take into account what’s best for users.
In a Webmaster Central hangout last week, Google’s SEO specialist John Mueller responded to a question about the differences in link value between “main” and “static” content.
Mueller prefaced his responses by stating that it was always a good idea to think about what makes sense for users first and foremost rather than obsessing over search engine optimisation.
Mueller noted that the algorithm is actually designed in a way that takes how users respond into account when it attempts to deliver the most relevant content in search.
This means that the algorithm and the user are generally closely intertwined.
Rather than attempting to game the algorithm to improve SEO, brands would be better served by optimising for the people who will use their webpages.
Mueller said that a page’s primary content is the focus for Google for this reason, though the rest of the page is also taken into account.
This means that links in the main body of a blog or page are given the most weight overall while links in a footer or navigation are given less.
However, the most important consideration when using internal links is the user and what would make sense to them.
Mueller added: “The tricky part with a lot of these things is, obviously, that we try to make our algorithm so they respond to things similar to how users would respond.”
Mueller also addressed the issue of link value ageing during the latest hangout.
He said that link value can fluctuate depending on how the website evolves over time and that something that was relevant at publication date may not be as “relevant anymore” further down the line.