It stands to reason that the more prominently a link appears on a page, the more SEO value it has. The same principle applies to almost all types of content in general, prominence playing a role in SEO clout; precisely why important headers, images, and written content should always be above the fold.
Logic and reason do not always add up to a great deal, where Google’s take on SEO is concerned. As confirmed by Google’s own John Mueller who recently stated that link order does not in fact have any effect on SEO performance.
Or to put it another way, it really does not matter where or in which order you choose to include links on your pages.
Header vs. Footer
Mr. Mueller was questioned by a website owner on Twitter, who like many was unsure where to position links for maximum effectiveness:
“Having a link in the header versus the footer, what link does Googlebot look (read) at first?”
To which, Mr. Mueller provided the following response:
“I don’t think we keep track of order of links on a page. If anything, that would be an implementation detail and not something optimizable.”
This would therefore suggest that the order in which links are included on a page has no bearing on SEO. Instead, it is the relevance and quality of the links that matter most, along with that of the rest of the text.
Not the most earth-shattering revelation, but one that at least put to bed a fairly longstanding debate on link locations.
Strategic Internal Linking
Mr. Muller’s comments follow a recent discussion on the value of internal linking, during which he suggested that internal links could be used in a way that strategically manipulates Google’s crawlers.
At least, in the sense that you can point Google in the direction of your best pages, in order to leverage their SEO value.
His comments on internal linking:
“One of the strategies I try to encourage people or tell an SEO consultant to think about is, on the one hand, you can decide what kind of pages you think are important within your website and which ones you want Google to focus on through internal linking.”
“Kind of working to make sure that like if you say 90 is currently not indexed and 10 are indexed, that you make sure that at least the 10 that are indexed are really good pages and really important pages for you.”
“So that like you get a mass of people already going to these pages and saying this is fantastic content, maybe they recommend it to other people, maybe to link to it from other places. But at least that 10 percent that you start with is something that you can kind of grow with.”
“And then over time what you’ll see is Google crawls more and more of your website as it recognizes that it’s really good and important, and that can then result in, on the one hand, crawling more frequently the existing pages, and on the other hand crawling deeper within your website so kind of like more layers within the internal linking and digging in a little bit deeper.”
“So it’s almost like you have to create a more funnelled web structure in the beginning and then over time as you see that Google is doing more and more on your website then expand that and expand that step by step until you’ve reached kind of your end situation where Google is actually actively indexing all of the content on your website.”
This is an important reminder on why you must take internal linking very seriously, from Google’s own mouth and why this should form the basis of the SEO services you undertake for your website.