“You don’t exist if no one can see you.” Nicola Yoon
If your pages can’t be found by search engines, they might as well not exist. That’s why it is important to have a good SEO strategy in place to be visible to your audience — and to Google.
Technology is evolving at a fast pace, including SEO. Today, machine learning is being applied to SEO internal linking, leveraging the data to provide better customer experience and help with website ranking.
Internal links are those defined by Moz as those that “go from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain.”
Internal linking is a key part of SEO, making sure that all the pages inside a website are optimised so they can be found by search engines and keep ranking on the SERPs (search engine result pages).
A good SEO software solution can help your company with search engine optimisation by using analytics, reporting, rank tracking, and auditing tools. A healthy internal linking structure can provide visitors a better experience on your site. Links define the website’s structure and also help transfer value and importance between pages. They make it easier for visitors to navigate your site and search engines like Google to properly index your website and, in turn, make it easier for users to find.
These links can become your page’s best friends – not only they help visitors navigate your site but also they help keep them on your page for longer. Plus, as Moz states, they also help establish a clearer and more structured information hierarchy for the bots to crawl the different pages and assign specific parameters to them.
This means that your site won’t just appear in the SERPs for some URLs, but for all of the ones you want to rank as it will be easier for Google to crawl your different pages on the site.
Internal linking can completely change the experience that users have on your website, impacting not only on the time they spend on-page but also on how Google ranks it. So, where does machine learning come into play here?
Using machine learning for SEO
Before we begin, let’s define what machine learning is. Machine learning is “an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed.”
Machine learning algorithms use advanced statistical methods to find patterns in larger amounts of data. To put it simply, when you visit sites like Netflix or Facebook you have ‘recommendations’ just for you. This is done by using an algorithm that analyses the data you generate (e.g., what you like watching, what updates you react to and how) and it generates a unique pattern that allows them to make a guess about what you might want next.
Will Critchlow, founder and CEO of Distilled explains how this can be beneficial when applied to SEO:
“The internal linking structure can have a big impact on usability and on search performance. There are two big opportunities for using advanced techniques to determine good internal links. The first one is to be able to forecast the best page for users based either on goal completion metrics or some other analysis of good navigation paths. The other opportunity is to determine an internal linking structure to maximise the flow of link authority metrics from pages with high authority to pages that need high authority.”
Machine Learning software can obtain insights from data and create models based on these insights. By creating a spreadsheet that contains relevant labeled information (e.g., links, sessions, category pages), you’ll have more data and be able to extract more detailed patterns.
For example, by analysing data you can identify those users who have visited a specific category and left shortly thereafter, so you can find out the final page they visited and try something like adding more internal links to keep them on the website for a little bit longer.
A better link structure can help your website rank higher on Google, but also make it a more personalised experience for the visitor. If a visitor lands on your homepage but gets recommended a few other links, it will increase the session time, could develop into a possible conversion and finally, and most important for you, they may end up finding something new that wasn’t looking for initially.