“Will Internal Links From the Home Page Affect Its Ability to Rank?” Google Replies

While I don’t think Google’s John Mueller answers this question directly, he does give some ideas.
SIA Team
October 25, 2021

For years, it’s been said that internal linking (which is linking within a website, as opposed to linking from one site to another) is a good way to spread ‘link juice’ within your site. 

This whole idea is based on the old notion of Google Page Rank (which was a publicly-available metric that isn’t public anymore). 

The idea behind Page Rank was that if a web page got a certain amount of quality links from other pages (whether they be links from other sites, or links from within the same site), the Page Rank of that page would increase. 

Although, as I said, Page Rank isn’t publicly available anymore, the foundational concept of Page Rank still exists. In fact, SEO-oriented services, such as MOZ and ahrefs, have their own metrics that are comparable to Page Rank. 

These are Domain Authority (MOZ) and Domain Rating (ahrefs)

With that in mind, let’s move to our question, which was asked during the English Google SEO Office-Hours From October 22, 2021.

A submitted question (edited for clarity) was:

“My question is related to internal links–specifically, on the homepage. Assuming the homepage has a certain value, will having lots of internal links going from the home page to other pages affect the value of the home page, therefore affecting its performance and ability to rank for a specific query?”

The video below is queued to the ~20:38 mark, which is where the question was asked. 

John’s response was:

“Interesting question. So, basically what you’re doing with the internal linking is spreading the value that you’re getting from your pages, relative to the rest of your website.

“So, if, for example…all of the external links go to your home page and that’s where all of the signals get collected, and your homepage has absolutely no links, then we can focus purely on the home page.

He Began to Answer the Question…

“As soon as it has other links as well, then we kind of distribute that out across all of these links, and depending on the way that you have your internal linking set up, that can mean that there are certain places within your website that are, relatively speaking, more important based on your internal linking structure, and that’s kind of how we pick things up.

“So it’s not a one-to-one a mapping of your internal linking to your ranking, but it does give us a sense of relative importance within your website. 

“And from that point of view, it definitely makes sense to link to important and new things from your home page, where you’re saying, ‘This is really important,’ or ‘This is really new, people should take notice of this.’

“Then we can pick that up a little bit faster and we can give it a little bit more weight in the search results, as well. It doesn’t automatically mean it will rank better, but it does mean that we kind of recognize, ‘Oh, you’re saying this is relatively important, so we will kind of take that on as feedback and try to treat it appropriately.”

Why I Don’t Think That John Answered The Exact Question

Well…I didn’t hear him say anything about the ability of the home page to rank after it’s had internal links going to other pages. 

For example, if it ranked position #3 before any internal links were placed on it, would it still rank the same after internal links were placed on it?

That’s really the original question, and while John answered related questions, I didn’t hear him address it directly.

However, a Clue…Possibly

John did say that linking to another page is ‘not a one-to-one mapping of your internal linking to your ranking,’ so, of course, there are a number of factors at work.

Ultimately, my feeling is that as long as your home page ranks for one specific search intent, and the other pages you link to don’t compete for exactly the same search intent, then your home page’s ranking won’t be negatively affected. 

Finally, there’s a difference between keywords and intent. This is eye-opening, and the subject of an article I wrote, titled, Google Goes Beyond Keywords…Talks About Searcher Intent.

Source: Google Search Console YouTube channel