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Does internal linking of text to tag archives instead of pages hurt SEO?

My Wordpress category archive pages have a few paragraphs of text that give more insight about the category. Within that text, I am linking various words to their tag archives. My goal is to provide more value to the reader with relevant informational links and increase dwell time on the site. If I get SEO benefit, fine – but that's not the goal. What I'm trying to avoid is SEO penalties.

My main concern is Google's Webmaster Guidelines describe the following as a "Linking Scheme":

Links with optimized anchor text in articles. For example:

There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.

On the other hand, SEOs advocate internal linking and Wikipedia, for example, is full of internal links. But they're mostly linking to pages instead of tag archives. And so many blogs have a popular tags or tag cloud section.

How can I resolve adding relevant value for the reader linking text to tag archives while not getting penalized or appear as "keyword stuffing"?

  • The webmaster guideline in question is here: support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en but you didn't quote it exactly: "Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites." (emphasis added) – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 28 '18 at 20:14
  • Stephen, I didn't include it for brevity's sake. The way I read that was there were two situations: EITHER (1) Links with optimized anchor text in articles; OR (2) press releases distributed on other sites. You're saying "distributed on other sites" applies to BOTH cases? (I think it could be read either way.) – Andreas3204 Mar 28 '18 at 20:33
  • I think it applies to both cases. In my experience, Google doesn't use keywords on internal anchor text to give much weight to keywords. Given that, they don't care how you link internally, because it isn't going to spam them. However keyword rich anchor text from other sites is problematic for them. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 29 '18 at 1:47
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There shouldn't be any SEO penalty or downside on what you are trying to do, but i dont think there is any benefit either probably you could have a different approach and still benefit from SEO and user experience.

Here is what i would do:

  1. Move text from archives to the relevant categories (if possible)
  2. no-index tag archives
  3. Link text from categories to relevant articles

This way you reduce the amount of pages you have since categories and tag archives are similar this benefits SEO and users. And you are increasing your link equity flow with internal linking (dont over do it with internal linking).

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I don't think you have much to worry about in terms of your anchor text on your own site, as long as the anchor text is appropriate for the reader and for the content on the page that is linked to.

It's perfectly fine to link to tags on your own website when those tag pages help the users navigate around your site.

In terms of SEO, it's probably better to link to your articles directly than it is to link to tags. The reason for this is that Google passes page authority between pages, and I think that page authority is partially determined by the quality of content of each page. Your pages that have only tags on them will likely be considered low quality content because they aren't usually rankable in Google. As a result, it's quite possible that you'll receive stronger link juice if your link structured is formatted as: highqualitypage->highqualitypage instead of highqualitypage->lowqualitypage->highqualitypage.

However, internally linking to tags does help users navigate and so you shouldn't get penalized for this. Wordpress was built with the tag structure and Wordpress is very well optimized for search engines.

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