Ammon: Google don’t Care about Silos, or Pages Only Linking to Other Pages on the Same Topic, Same Website

Hey all. Just wondering if bad internal linking (linking to posts outside if silo) can have a direct effect on losing rankings. Since the beginning of December I have lost 50% of my traffic and over 1000 keywords. It just so happens that I started using Link Whisper for internal linking at the same time as the latest Google update, so curious if that could be part of the problem. Thanks!
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Ammon Johns 🎓
Google don't care about silos, or pages only linking to other pages on the same topic. Google is one of the biggest companies on the Internet, and it links from pages about searching to pages about every possible topic in the world.
That is not to say that context of links are not important, merely that the common myths and idiocies of 'siloing' have absolutely no basis in how Google actually works.
I can have a site all about digital marketing, and a blog post about doing a massive site audit, and somewhere in that post I have a paragraph about some realization I came to while taking a coffee break, and as an aside I mention how good the coffee was, linking to where to get it to try it for yourself (non affiliate link), and that link is still relevant, and still counts.
Now, if my page has no ranking at all for any other terms about coffee, then that could affect my "Hilltop" ranking factors, but only if Hilltop were actually in use. Hilltop is a patent from years and years ago that a lot of the myths and legends of topical pages comes from.
The thing is, however, that with the advent of passage ranking, where just a single passage that is especially relevant can rank, then it seems likely that such a passage could also be considered for a 'Hilltop' type of approach.
There's an even bigger reason that this is very, very unlikely to be your issue in any way. PageRank, Hilltop and anything like it only looked at links *to* your URL. Your outbound links only affect what those pages you are linking to might rank for, not yours.
That doesn't mean that outbound links can't affect your own rankings though. If your outbound links are deemed of low trust (Google suspects they are link swaps, undisclosed affiliate links, or links to pretty spammy or nasty sites) then that can affect the trust in ALL of your links, including your own internal navigation links. In extreme cases, bad outbound links can even result in penalties to, or exclusions from ranking.
So, take a critical look at the outbound links to see if they are reputable, and ensure there's nothing in there that could harm your trust levels to a human. No links to spam, malware, or dodgy link-rings. If your links are all clean, then no, your outbound links, whether on topic or not, have no effect on your ranking.

Dave ✍️ » Ammon Johns
Thanks for your answer. The links were the only thing I did different and then the bottom fell out, so trying to figure out what happened.
Ammon Johns 🎓 » Dave
Bear in mind that Google had a flurry of updates, any or all of which may have adversely affected the sites that link *to* you, lowering the value of those links, and and any effect those links had on ranking would be similarly lowered.
Your rankings are not only affected by changes ON your own site, but also by changes your competitors make, changes to the way your backlinks count, and changes to how Google treat the search itself with regards to which algorithm variations they feel best serve the intent.
Given that search patterns and usage change quite a bit just before and during the holiday period, there's a pretty fair chance that the intent shifted, changing what Google are ranking overall to match the shift in what is on the mind of searchers generally.
Dave ✍️ » Ammon Johns
I didn't really think about it effecting other sites that link to me. My Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) is pretty low so I am gonna focus on building good backlinks
Roger » Dave
All of the December updates were about content. There were no spam updates in December so it may be unlikely to do with links.
It's possible that upstream your links got whacked and then you felt it a month later, but I think most people caught in the spam update felt it right away in November because that was probably the motivation, as explained below.
Because Google ran the spam update before the core and other updates indicates to me indicates that Google was pulling the weeds so to speak before applying the new updates to what remained.
Only one update was about spam and that finished rolling out on November 12th.
Dave ✍️ » Donelly

You can over optimize internal links just the same as external links. Hard to say whether or not it might be related to Link Whisper, but I would recommend disabling it and giving the site a sufficient amount of time to see if it recovers.
Personally I would not recommend any type of automated internal linking for the reason mentioned above.
Be sure when making changes to set annotations within Google Analytics (GA) (if you aren't already) in order to monitor site performance and track change history. This is especially useful in terms of troubleshooting site fluctuations etc.

Dave ✍️ » John
Thanks for your help. I didn't use the automatic linking feature. I just used some of the suggestions for the posts that were missing the outgoing internal links.

Google doesn't care how you've organized it linked your site. They will do it for you in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP)s. The only thing that might matter is if your internal navigation is so poor that it affects user behavior.
Yes, I faced the same thing when I used link whisper without context and internal linked the articles and products with just names written. I removed everything and started again. This is my current internal linking strategy.

Dave ✍️ » Karan
I'm sure my link structure is not that clean now


ammon google dont care about silos or pages only linking to other pages on the same topic same website

I also doubt that the drop is due to Link Whisper, although – as I understand it – that tool links on anchor text matching instead of Topic/Entity matching (disclosure, I am Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of InLinks). As Ammon says, December has seen some of the highest volatility ever seen in the SERPs according to commentators like Barry Schwarz & tools that track these things. Certainly, disabling the plug-in for a week or two cannot hurt in seeing if it is the cause, though. I'd try it, but I can say that InLinks has not seen any large exodus of users… so I don't think Internal Links have been "targeted" in any way in general.
I don't think that internal linking outside of silos can be responsible for a 50% drop in traffic and a loss of a thousand keyword. Do you have an affiliate site with a lot of links to Amazon for instance? I've lately seen an affiliate site hardly hit in the SERPs following Google's latest update

Dave ✍️ » Hassan
I do use Amazon but also other affiliates too. The competitor sites did not get hit as hard and they are mostly Amazon links. Also could be my core web vitals and low Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR).

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