Internal Linking — a Reset

It’s a while ago, that I wrote about SEO. That should not be a big deal, I thought at that time. In its tem­plates, bootScore thank­ful­ly uses seman­tic HTML tags by default. Thus, it should be suf­fi­cient to sub­mit one’s own sitemap to Google & Co. Enrich­ing the pages them­selves with addi­tion­al key­words should be super­flu­ous. A good pri­ma­ry con­tent would be enough. No need for a sec­ond text behind the actu­al one. That’s the way, I thought. More­over, I saw no rea­son to talk about inter­nal link­ing. Rarely has Google so embar­rass­ing­ly proven me wrong:

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  • Replace all schemat­ic slugs with talk­ing ones.
  • Link every post and page to all oth­er inter­nal, relat­ed posts or pages.
  • Install Yoast­SEO.
  • Imple­ment so many improve­ments sug­gest­ed by Yoast­SEO that its traf­fic lights turn green.
  • For every sin­gle page and post, explic­it­ly ask Google via the Google Search Con­sole to index that text.


Google Search Console Problem

What has hap­pened, that I changed my mind? After sub­mit­ting my sitemap some­time in April, Google had indexed only 6 of my 109 pages over 3 months. It did not grum­ble about the qual­i­ty. It sim­ply announced that it had found 81 pages or posts and had crawled 17, but had not indexed any of them. Google did not con­sid­er my texts wor­thy of index­ing. Despite my inter­est­ing top­ic, ‘bootScore’. And in spite of the arti­cles being so rel­e­vant, they could inspire the project ‘bootScore’. In this sit­u­a­tion, try­ing to improve my rank­ing was non­sense: what’s not indexed, is not found at all.

It took me a while to under­stand what had hap­pened. And it took me even more time to fix that:

While migrat­ing to bootScore, I want­ed to con­dense my site. It should become more read­er-friend­ly with less redun­dan­cy. Few­er bells and whis­tles. That’s why I mapped my the­mat­ic clus­ters onto cat­e­gories and tags and prop­er­ly assigned my texts to them. I want­ed to take advan­tage of what bootScore brings to the table on its own. On each page, our read­ers can call the relat­ed posts by click­ing on the assigned key­words. So why should I addi­tion­al­ly link a post to relat­ed ones man­u­al­ly? Why should I hook indi­vid­ual pages or posts into my menu? A clever guid­ing sys­tem of cat­e­gories with­out any addi­tion­al inner link­ing should be enough.

But that’s exact­ly what Google sees dif­fer­ent­ly! Pages that are not linked to oth­er pages on the same site are not impor­tant — appar­ent­ly, even in the eyes of the author. Oth­er­wise, she would want to lead her read­ers there. So why should Google index them? My textbooks((Pars pro toto: cf. Czysch, Stephan: SEO mit Google Search Con­sole, 2. Ed., Hei­del­berg 2017, pp. 168ff)) had always point­ed out that! It was my fault to ignore that.

Just, as my fault for group­ing my posts with non­speak­ing ‘slugs’: If I — for exam­ple — used a clus­ter ‘image’, I thought I could name my posts ‘image‑a’ , … ‘image‑i’. So, I had the same page names on the Ger­man and the Eng­lish sites. Also, a bad idea that caus­es Google to take the posts as unimportant.((pars pro toto: cf. Dzi­ki, Julian: Such­maschi­nenop­tomierung für dum­mies, 2. Ed., Wein­heim 2021, p. 62)

After hav­ing under­stood these side effects, I reworked every­thing. I replaced the sym­bol­ic page names with speak­ing ones. I installed Yoast­Seo and imple­ment­ed so many of its mea­sures con­cern­ing the top­ics ‘SEO’ and ‘read­abil­i­ty’ that the respec­tive traf­fic lights switched from red to green. Or at least to yel­low. All in all a very time-con­sum­ing work.

Nev­er­the­less, there was still no inner link­ing with it. That’s why I wrote a sum­ma­ry for each of my the­mat­ic clus­ters and linked its words to the intend­ed ‘sib­lings’ of posts and pages. More­over, because — in the Future — I would have to update these sum­maries often, I reduced my typ­ing work by imple­ment­ing these sum­maries as Short­Codes. So, a sim­ple string at the end of each post and page would inte­grate the respec­tive inter­nal link­ing.

Google Search Console Success

Nev­er­the­less, the real index­ing break­through came only after I had sub­mit­ted each post and page indi­vid­u­al­ly and man­u­al­ly to Google Search Con­sole for index­ing — includ­ing the time-con­sum­ing index­a­bil­i­ty checks for each text. Now Google has indexed 84 of my 74 arti­cles and 18 pages of my Ger­man site. What still is not indexed is indeed less impor­tant, like my pri­va­cy page or the image proof. And on my Eng­lish site it looks even bet­ter: of the cur­rent­ly offered 53 posts and 15 pages, 114 are indexed — from which we may derive that the Google index still con­tains out­dat­ed links. For those, how­ev­er, I pre­ferred to fol­low the rec­om­men­da­tions of the text­books right away. I imple­ment­ed respec­tive redi­rects with the plu­g­in ‘Quick 301 Redi­rects’.

So what was the deci­sive mea­sure for suc­cess? I’m afraid it takes all of them. Even if I had to change my writ­ing style to do it. Espe­cial­ly in the imple­men­ta­tion of Yoast­SEO rec­om­men­da­tions. But more about that lat­er. As soon as Google has indexed this post. Always first things first.

And how does this …

… sup­port our migra­tion to bootScore? Well, if a web design­er must aban­don her cur­rent Word­Press theme, she needs a replace­ment. A free ‘off-the-shelf’ theme, she prob­a­bly wants to per­son­al­ize. First a bit cos­met­i­cal­ly, then in terms of the gray val­ue of her pages, mul­ti­lin­gual­ism and inter­nal ref­er­ence tech­niques and link­ing. Final­ly, she per­haps enables spe­cial foot­ers, a sec­ondary menu or a copy­right notice before check­ing the SEO fea­tures of the select­ed theme. This is a way that this post sup­ports too.

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