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Google’s John Mueller discourages websites from linking to every page from the home page, saying it may prevent Googlebot from clearly understanding a site’s architecture.
This topic came up in a recent Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout where a site owner asked the following question:
“If we try to link to every page on our website from the home page does this dilute the focus?”
In response, Mueller said this practice will dilute the focus in the sense that Google will not be able to understand the structure of the website.
This is especially true for larger websites compared to smaller websites where it’s considered more of a normal practice.
Where larger websites are concerned, linking to every page from the home page will make it difficult for Google to understand the semantic structure.
In other words, it may not be able to distinguish higher level pages from lower level pages, and it will be more difficult to understand categories.
Google has previously stated that it’s a good practice to link to a site’s most important pages from the home page in order to give them more weight in search results.
However, that does not mean it’s a good idea to link to every page in order for them to all be weighted the same.
When Google has a clear understanding of a site’s architecture, it will be able to position pages in search results in a way that makes sense for searchers.
You can see the full response in the video below, starting at the 30:49 mark.
“It does dilute [the focus] a little bit in the sense that we don’t understand the structure of your website that cleanly in a case like that.
With smaller websites I think it’s completely natural that you would be linking across all of the different pages on your website. If you have, I don’t know, 10-20 pages on your website then it’s kind of normal that you can get to all of those pages from the home page.
But if you have a larger website and you link to all pages from your home page then we lose the semantic structure of the website. So we kind of lose the understanding of categories, higher level pages, lower level pages, and where these pages fit into the structure of a bigger website.
So, in general, I would recommend trying to stick to a clean structure with regards to your linking so that users and Googlebot can try to better understand the structure rather than ‘here’s a structure of 200 or 300 different links that you can click on.’ So that would be my recommendation there.
It’s not so much that you would see a big effect in search but, depending on the website, you could certainly see that we understand the lower level pages a little bit better if we understand this product is in this category in this higher-level category, and those kind of things.”