03 Jul 2007

How to Achieve Higher Rankings and Stay out of Google Hell Via Optimized Internal Linking

Learn how to Achieve Higher Rankings and Stay out of Google Hell Via Optimized Internal Linking.

I’ve recently had some clients ask me how to increase rankings on specific subpages when seeking to target long tail phrases. I’ve also been asked about reasons why pages get tossed in Google Hell (supplemental results). Often the answer to both of these is that a site has tens or hundreds of thousands page pages, and many of the pages are burried deep within the site. In order to reach these deep pages one has to click several times from the homepage to reach a destination page that only has 1 internal backlink to it. Pages like this often don’t rank high, and often even get tossed in Google’s Hell.

To analyze ones deep pages popularity I’ll:

1. I’ll start by looking at how many pages the site has indexed in google by going to google and typing in (for example):
Site:mysite.com which will show me how many pages the website consists of in the eyes of google.

2. Next I’ll go to Yahoo to check how many internal pages link to that specific phrase. In Yahoo type (for example):
link:http://www.mysite.com/widgets/blue/bright/small/id=373 site:mysite.com This will show how many internal pages link to that specific page. Also note if the homepage (the page with the most power to give) links to the page in question, and how many clicks off the homepage does it take to reach that page (what is the pagerank of that page?) (did I just say pagerank??).

3. Next I’ll see if any other sites are directly linking to the page in question. To do this, go to yahoo and search using the link command and you give the full url (for example): link:http://www.mysite.com/widgets/blue/bright/small/id=373 -site:mysite.com This will show how many other pages from other sites link to that specific page. If you get results, then this means that there are other sites that link to that specific page in question….but…note that you should click on each of these pages to check if they those pages have a google cache. Just a few days ago I was looking at 2 links we had gotten. 1 had 92 backlinks from other sites linking to that specific page…. but when I checked the backlink pages they were all MFA and scrapers where none of those pages had a google cache. The other site has 52 backlinks and the first ~10 were real, the others were all MFA and scrapers (but it has at least 10 real votes from other real pages)..

So for example, if a site has 10,000 pages indexed, and if a specific page (like the one above) only has 10 internal links, and doesn’t have any external links to it, it basically tells the search engines that there’s not much importance to that page. (little ranking power).

Having external backlinks from other sites probably count for a lot more than all the internal links combined…. but if you’ve got 10,000 pages it makes it really hard to get each individual pages a backlink from another site. In which case, all you’ve got is your internal link structure, so maximizing it to it’s best is essential.

How to maximize your internal link structure:
To start with you need a basic understanding of how Pagerank works (gasp, did I just say Pagerank again?)
Here’s an oldie but a goodie page that gives a great long and complicated story of how pagerank works written in relatively simple English).
For you math geeks, here’s the equation for Pagerank:

PR(A) = (1-d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + … + PR(Tn)/C(Tn))
PR= PageRank
d= dampening factor (~0.85)
c = number of links on the page
PR(T1)/C(T1) = PageRank of page 1 divided by the total number of links on page 1, (transferred PageRank)

Here’s a simple way to look at this:
If you have 1000 external websites linking to your homepage, then you’ve got a certain amount of power residing on your homepage.
Each link off of your homepage is given a percentage of that power equally divided between the number of pages you link to off of your homepage. So for example, if your homepage links out to 100 pages, each of those pages only get a little bit of power passed to them(1/100), but if your homepage only has 10 links on it, then those 10 pages will get much more power passed to them (1/10).

So if you’ve got a page that can only be reached by (via starting at the homepage), going to the list of widget page, then going to the list of blue widgets page, then going to the bright blue widgets page, then going the the specific widget page….well, there’s not much juice (Pagerank) reaching your specific widget page by the time all that pagerank has been distributed down the line to that specific page, and thus, the chance of having good rankings for that page is low.

Solutions for optimizing your internal link structure:

1. The first step always rests on the keyword research. Return to wordtracker or keyword discovery, or better yet, your PPC or ROI stats. Define your targeted keyword goals.

2. I’d then start by making a list of the phrases that are important to you based on search volume and ROI opportunities. The most important pages should have links from as many pages as possible (site-wide is as good as you can get). If you have 20 really important pages, and those page have links from every page, including the homepage, then those pages will have the most power of any subpages you have.  (I’ve also seen some people go as far as nofollowing thier copyright pages or other non-important pages.)

3. Get more internal links via cross linking related pages. Look at my example url http://www.mysite.com/widgets/blue/bright/small/id=373,. If that page only has 1 internal backlink  (Widgets ->Blue –>Bright –> small page) then it would be incredibly lucky to have that page show up for any search.

But if all your individual product pages linked to each other, then at least each individual page would have some internal links. For example, even if you added to the bottom of your Widget-Blue-Bright-Small-Model 373 page, you linked to all the other Widget-Blue-small model pages, then each page would at least have a handful of internal backlinks.  You could even expand that by adding even more related cross internal linking by also adding links to all bright widget pages, and all bright widget pages….there, now at least these individual pages can at least have hundreds or thousands of internal links….this can increase the Pagerank of the individual pages as opposed the the old way of just having 1 link to that page (if done on specific focused sections (not all of them)). This can also give value by now having hundreds or thousands of internal links going to that end product page. A page with backlinks like this usually will beat a page that only 1 or a few other internal pages links to it.

4. According to Pagerank, you’re only as powerful as a sum of the value of who links to you….so find where your power resides in your site and make sure it flows best from there.

A great tool to check what pages of your site has power is by using the powerful subpage tool. Look at the pages that have lots of internal links, and make sure to link out to many important pages from your pages that have people linking to them (your most powerful pages based on the number of other sites that link to your individual pages).

5. Identify internal category sitemap main pages and try to get links to those "nodes" so that your end pages are closer to the pages that have backlinks to them. For example, if your sell widgets, and you’ve got 5 main category pages, then those category pages should have lots of internal links, and link building could be focused on those areas as well (to help spread pagerank to pages at a closer level to the end pages).

In the end you just might have to "sacrifice" pages to Google’s Hell, or to accept the a page is so buried that there’ll not be much power sent to that page….but if you choose wisely what pages you want power to, and adjust your internal linking structure correctly, your important pages, and even a good amount of your long tail can have maximum power (and thus maximum ranking potential).

.

Comments

  1. Halfdeck July 3, 2007 at 9:20 PM

    If a site desperately needs to dig pages out of the supplemental index, one approach is removing some of the links pointing to the home page. That reduces juice gravitating “upwards” and leaving the deep pages high and dry.

    Also noindexing pages with untargeted titles like “August 2006″ is an option.

  2. Jim Boykin July 3, 2007 at 9:22 PM

    Nice ideas Halfdeck!

  3. Patrick Altoft July 4, 2007 at 3:53 AM

    I like to build external deep links to the index page of a particular category to help boost the pages one section at a time.

  4. Tom July 4, 2007 at 10:00 AM

    Nice post Jim, this is one of the most mis-understood topics in SEO I think. Far too often I see people add links from the homepage to their important category pages “to boost internal linking” but completely forget about the rest of the site and how to (as you put it) optimise your internal linking.

    It’s worth placing emphasis on anchor text as well, don’t just link to your category pages with generic phrases – use the terms to link to them you want to rank under!

    Also – I find Google’s webmaster central handy for quickly seeing the spread of links across a site (both internal and external). If you have access it’s a real time saver in analysing the linking structure.

  5. Howard July 4, 2007 at 10:20 AM

    Thanks Jim-

    Your post made me think about site navigation and how that effects PR for my second level and tertiary pages based on site navigation alone. Are there pros and cons to a site IA when considering only SEO? Does a wide site fare better than a deeper site or vice versa when considering internal linking structure?

    Happy 4th of July!

  6. Natitude July 4, 2007 at 11:47 AM

    I agree with your suggestion of using nofollows (or the like) to prevent pages that are of no real use, at least on an SEO side, from depleting page rank. I have found this very useful with one of the sites I worked with. When we first launched, Google seemed to be giving priority to some of the users profiles, rather than pages we actually wanted indexed so we tried to prevent Google from accessing these pages and it seemed to work quite well. They were dropped from the index and i think, it allowed for the bread and butter pages to get crawled and ranked as they should.
    I do have a question for ya Jim, related to dispersing page rank. When purchasing links within content from a site, do you feel its better to focus on only one keyword, one link… or if possible, should you try to get a few links in with a few different keywords? Do you think PR and ‘link juice’ are diluted so much it might not be wise to try to promote a few keywords from one page?
    Thanks Jim, love the site and all your advice!

  7. » Page Rank Demystified | An Internet Consultant Speaks | Scott Hendison July 4, 2007 at 11:56 AM

    […] Jim Boykins Internet marketing blog has a great article about getting your pages out of the supplemental index using your own internal linking structure. In the article, he gives the mathematical formula for Google PageRank – PR(A) = (1-d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + … + PR(Tn)/C(Tn)) PR= PageRank d= dampening factor (~0.85) c = number of links on the page PR(T1)/C(T1) = PageRank of page 1 divided by the total number of links on page 1, (transferred PageRank) […]

  8. Scott Hendison July 4, 2007 at 12:13 PM

    Fantastic explanation Jim –

    I guess I’m one of those people that “goes so far as to Nofollow” the less important links on occasion. Why waste good link juice on something you don’t care about?

    Do you know the difference in percentage of juice passed along to an external link to another domain, versus internally?

    If each page can pass along 85%, and there are 10 outbound links, is 10% distributed evenly regardless of whether it’s internal or external to another domain?

    I have always assumed not, but never seen it answered definitively.

  9. Carps July 5, 2007 at 7:09 AM

    Great information as ever.

    Personally I don’t like the nofollow attribute just on general principle. If something’s worth linking to it’s worth linking to.

    If that creates a bit of internal PR leak, then again I’m not too concerned. Sure, PR is one factor in ranking – but trying to channel it at this level? Not sure the game’s worth the candle.

  10. » Blog Archive » Internal Link Structure tips July 5, 2007 at 7:16 AM

    […] Jim Boykin Just put up a new post on Internal link structure and gave some very good tips as to how it works. To include the use of the nofollow tag to pages that are not as important to your site such as the “Copyright” page or the “About” page. Even though Page Rank is not as important as it use to be this is a must read for those of us that don’t understand Page Ranks use. […]

  11. Internal Link Structure Optimization » Backwhack July 5, 2007 at 12:35 PM

    […] Jim Boykin has a nice post about Optimizing Your Internal Link Structure. In addition to providing background on how page rank flows from page to page, Jim outlines the basics on how you should prioritize which pages should get the most attention. […]

  12. Bill Hartzer July 5, 2007 at 1:18 PM

    Very helpful tips..I’ve had good success with these strategies, especially when it comes to blogs and optimizing and removing internal links to pages that might end up being duplicates. That strongest subpages tool is very very cool!

  13. Jim Boykin July 5, 2007 at 2:15 PM

    Aaron Wall just did a great post where he added more internal linking tips at http://www.seobook.com/archives/002332.shtml

  14. Jim Boykin July 5, 2007 at 2:27 PM

    Scott asked “Do you know the difference in percentage of juice passed along to an external link to another domain, versus internally?”

    I would assume they are counted differently….As where the links are placed probably places a role in the value (navigation, sitewide, found on text in page)….
    —–
    Howard asked “Does a wide site fare better than a deeper site or vice versa when considering internal linking structure?”

    Yes, from what I’ve found, pages that have a site-wide link tend to do better than pages that only have a handful of internal links.

  15. Todd July 5, 2007 at 5:11 PM

    Here’s a couple of commands to filter supplemental pages:
    site:www.yoursite.com -allinurl:www.yoursite.com (filters out supplemental)
    site:www.yoursite.com *** -anyword (will show only supplemental)

    These don’t work perfect every time, but can be quite useful…Thanks to Rob for showing me!

  16. zhaiduo July 6, 2007 at 6:06 AM

    great article! My original blog have many supplemental results, I will test it.

  17. Search Marketing Digest - What Was Written The Week of July 2, 2007 - KoMarketing Associates July 6, 2007 at 6:08 PM

    […] Tips on Internal LinkingInternal linking is an important component of an ongoing SEO campaign. Aaron Wall provides some tips on internal link architecture made easy which references Jim Boykin’s article on optimizing your internal link structure. […]

  18. SEOspring » Therz PAGERANK in Them Thar Internal Link Thingys... July 7, 2007 at 5:12 AM

    […] (NOTE: I am only going to make this a short simple post that will give you the general IDEA of what I am talking about, without going too deep into specifics. I have linked to people much smarter and more credible than I am if you want to learn the nitty gritty of it.) […]

  19. Susan July 8, 2007 at 5:29 PM

    All I can say is wow oh and I have a lot of work to do. Thank you for that excellent explanation I am sure it will help lots of people understand not only Pagerank but how to make their overall blog better.

    I would like to thank you for making my stumbling that much more enjoyable. Your bloge made the Life Is Risky Blog Stumbling for today!

  20. Blog Stumbling 8 July 07 | Life Is Risky July 8, 2007 at 5:36 PM

    […] To Jim’s! Jim Boykin’s Blog that is. This blog has an excellent post on Internal link that everyone who blogs should read immediately. Be warned it is long and has all sorts of things to make us non-SEO guru’s heads spin but take your time, read through it and then apply what you learn. Your site will be better for it. […]

  21. Achieve High Rankings Through Optimized Internal Linking » Unofficial SEO Blog July 9, 2007 at 7:45 AM

    […] Jim Boykin has a very helpful post on How to Achieve Higher Rankings and Stay out of Google Hell Via Optimized Internal Linking. Basically, he explains the process he undergoes: […]

  22. seotips » Blog Archive » How to get out or stay out of the Google supplemental results. July 9, 2007 at 11:20 AM

    […] A common question in SEO forums is how to get our or stay out of the Google supplemental results. The most common answer is to create unique HTML page titles and unique content for each page. Jim Boykin of WeBuildPages offers a much more technical and intriguing explanation in his blog post, “How to Achieve Higher Rankings and Stay out of Google Hell Via Optimized Internal Linking“. […]

  23. Ryan July 9, 2007 at 2:36 PM

    Great summary of internal linking strategies. It really does come down to common sense. If you have pages deep in your structure with no interpage linking, why would it deserve to rank well? If it’s that important, build a site around the topic.

  24. lafingn July 11, 2007 at 10:48 PM

    The bigger the site, the more important the internal link structure. the smaller the site, the more important the content quality. for a less-than-ten-page site, ad is a good idea.

    when there are millions of pages, it becomes essential to build and manage the way pages are interlinked, for garnering inbound links to pages in order to enhance ranking is next to impossible. that’s to say, when a website has come to this stage, internal links play an more important role than inbound links in placement.

    but it’s not easy as it looks when we are trying to optimize a website of such a scale. too many departments are involved. Clients and advertisers are often not willing to change. the tech department has pressure for they already have a tight schedule. the marketing bears the most pressure because the traffic will go down for a period of time.

  25. Howard July 13, 2007 at 3:05 PM

    If you are developing themes on your site. Is cross-linking between pages in different “themes” a no-no or should you use rel=nofollow? But then you are not sharing PR!

    Your article I think does not consider LSI & themes – or perhaps you are suggesting links between pages in a theme?

  26. PHP Developer July 14, 2007 at 4:03 PM

    I always find it interesting when talking about subpage and ranking. To me from my little bit of SEO experience, I would think the 3 most important factors are 1) research search phrase and use it on that page 2) use the search phrase in the anchor text pointing to that page 3) inbound links to that page.

    Inbound links are king in my book.

  27. Great Blog Posts from Around the Net | Integrity Business Blog by Terry Dean July 16, 2007 at 9:43 AM

    […] Jim Boykin shares how to boost your search engine rankings through internal linking in How to Achieve Higher Rankings and Stay Out of Google Hell Via Optimized Internal Linking. […]

  28. Link Building Blog » How to Stay Out of Google Supplemental Results July 16, 2007 at 3:50 PM

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  30. Mr Bizzi July 17, 2007 at 8:38 AM

    I Knew a bit about page ranking , but this post has helped shed light on the matter in hand. I’ll make sure i put it to the test right away.
    Thanks

  31. The Googlerithm | SoloSEO Blog July 17, 2007 at 10:17 PM

    […] • Keywords in title, header tags (h1, h2), main text, and URL • Content quality (readability, spam-like?, and possibly manual ratings) • Internal links (and here, and here) • Outbound links (topic, quantity, and reciprocal; case study here) […]

  32. Wan July 20, 2007 at 7:01 AM

    Hi Jim,

    Nice post you get there. It’s timely that you get this article out since so many people are discussing about Google supplemental index.

    Are you trying to imply that Pagerank DOES matter when it comes to ranking possibly for uncompetitive keywords? I’ve always thought that Pagerank is DEAD while anchor tag and external links matter the most when it comes to ranking.

    Are we all wrong then?

    Regards

  33. Scott Hendison July 20, 2007 at 12:53 PM

    While the actual Google PageRank of a particular page may not matter all that much in the algorithm for that pages ranking for a phrase, it DOES make a difference to the ranking of any other pages which that page links to, either internal or external.

    Therefore, the more pages you have with better Google PageRank, the more you can funnel that link juice off to your partners and into other areas of your website.

    Make sense?

  34. Dee July 20, 2007 at 1:39 PM

    This is a great post and I was really following along for a while, but do you have a “How to Achieve Higher Rankings for Dummies” sections? LOL.

    Dee

  35. Kermit Johnson July 23, 2007 at 12:53 PM

    If you link to relevant internal static pages from your blog posts, does that help pr for those particular internal pages?

  36. Scott Hendison July 23, 2007 at 1:21 PM

    Yes, absolutely –

    And the higher PR your blog home page has, the more good it does (assuming your link will be visible on the blog home page, and you’re not just showing snippets).

    And be sure to use your best relevant link text too, of course

  37. Vish..! July 24, 2007 at 4:23 AM

    err.. confusing..! I dont think I can make something out of this algo…

    Off topic: this spam protection stuff asked me to sum two numbers :D (am getting bad in counting)

  38. Protravelnetworkguy July 25, 2007 at 12:42 AM

    Yeah, ya know these days I find if I spend time just writing high quality, and detailed posts on my blog, the internal linking comes naturally. Especially if you write a string of good posts on the same category.

    All the normal inbound linking comes into play as well, but I’ve given up on trying to game Google. Just post naturally, and blog naturally.

    Anil for Zulit

  39. How to Determine the Value of a Link? | An Internet Consultant Speaks | Scott Hendison July 25, 2007 at 7:01 AM

    […] What is the number of inbound links pointing to that page from domains besides their own? Websites can take advantage of their own PageRank and number of pages to increase their own number of inbound links. (for you technical types, there is a great post explaining this on Jim Boykin’s blog) […]

  40. Scrappy Business Idea Blog » Blog Archive » SEO Ebook Review July 27, 2007 at 7:59 PM

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  41. Dizzle July 31, 2007 at 5:02 PM

    This was an excellent read. In an effort to bring more PR back to the homepage and distribute PR more effectively I’ve been doing some link auditing. I’ve included the following on the “no follow” list to be below.

    I also have a series of links on the footer of all pages on the site that are embedded in java. Doea anyone know if links embedded in java even matters to the bots?

    Basket.aspx
    /Checkout/Summary.aspx
    /MyAccount/ForgotPassword.aspx

    /MyAccount/ForgotEmail.aspx
    /MyAccount/Registration.aspx

    MyAccount/Registration.aspx?Mode=Email
    /MyAccount/MyAccount.aspx

    Thanks in advance.

    Dizzle

  42. How to Find if a Page is in Google’s Secret Supplemental Results. - Jim Boykin’s Internet Marketing Blog August 1, 2007 at 12:53 PM

    […] Duplicate Content, too little content, or orphaned pages, as well as having no outside sites linking to pages, and poor internal linking (only a few internal links to that page), are the major reasons Google tosses these pages to Google Hell. […]

  43. Ciara August 19, 2007 at 8:00 AM

    If one has an article section on her website, should she list the links to the articles on the homepage or is it ok to show the article links on the ‘article’ page, if the homepage is linking to the article page? I mean, should my ‘important content’ pages be linked directly from the homepage?

  44. Halfdeck August 19, 2007 at 11:03 AM

    Ciara, first, think about your users. Don’t add a link if users aren’t going to find them useful.

    There are also ways of pushing PageRank down to the third-tier (content/product) pages.

    1. “siloing” or “third-level push” (credit goes to Dan Thies) Rel=nofollow links on second-level category pages that point to other second-level pages, so that more PageRank flows down to third-tier pages.

    2. You can go one stop further by allowing third-level pages from only linking to its parent category page, and nofollowing links to other second-level pages.

    If your site has enough PageRank, this will pull some third-tier pages out of the supplemental index. Otherwise, it can de-index your category pages.

    To soften the impact, you can link second-tier pages in pairs, so that page A links to B, C links to D, etc.

    You can also create circular linking down in the third tier so that page A links to B and C, B links to C and D, etc – which helps circulate PageRank.

  45. Wild Apricot Blog : A 30 Day Guide to Search Engine Optimization (Part 3 of 4) September 27, 2007 at 3:53 PM

    […] A 30 Day Guide to Search Engine Optimization (Part 3 of 4)  Having inbound links from “quality” sites will boost your websites SEO campaign more than any other factor.  If we think of keywords as the means to tell search engines what your site is about, then links are the channels that tell search engines how important your site is.  Links are also […]

  46. Tom October 22, 2007 at 8:52 PM

    Hi,

    I have a quick question.

    I’ve been adding content everyday to a few of my websites. Since there hasn’t been a PR update in sometime now, does this mean my subpage content won’t rank as well.

    I can put the EXACT title in google and my subpages don’t pop up at all. Some of these pages are anywhere from a 1 year to a few days old. Once in a while I can find them in the top ten for their title term but they disappear randomly.

    Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
    Tom

  47. Internal Linking 101 | DaveShap.com November 1, 2007 at 12:17 AM

    […] Jim Boykin’s post about getting pages out of the supplemental index. […]

  48. Jonathan November 22, 2007 at 11:01 PM

    Great Article, Jim! You presented a few new SEO tools that I have not come across yet. Now I know how to optimize my internal links for a greater benefit and ROI.

    Thanks!

    Jonathan

  49. Jonathan November 22, 2007 at 11:04 PM

    Is there a limit to how many internal links that one should create going to the most important pages?

  50. Okinawa November 28, 2007 at 6:06 AM

    Thanks for this great information Jim, gonna take me some time to go through it all though!

  51. NejcPass December 11, 2007 at 9:26 AM

    Thanks for the info Jim. Have to read it in detail!

  52. Best of Jim - 2007. - Jim Boykin’s Internet Marketing Blog December 20, 2007 at 3:30 PM

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  55. Patrick McEvoy February 14, 2008 at 8:26 AM

    Thank you!

    I have been trying to figure out the “follow” “no follow” concept for
    two days.

    Finally some one )you) has explaind the whole damned internal linking quagmire in understandable terms.

  56. Julia February 18, 2008 at 10:40 PM

    Thanks for the good insight into internal linking. Never have thought that it would play such an important role in achieving a high ranking for deep pages. Makes me think about restructuring some of my sites. Or maybe i should just get more external links to my deep pages. Would that help more?

  57. Krumpet February 22, 2008 at 2:34 PM

    So, what we should be aiming for is a long tail scenario, right? With the concentrated section bearing all your top landing pages and the tail containing everything else?

  58. Sean March 8, 2008 at 4:54 AM

    Good info Jim! Shed some light on how to stay out of Google Hell. Will be working hard on adding more links to some of my sites internal pages and hope for the best

  59. DetoxGuy March 8, 2008 at 10:12 AM

    Good post Jim. This is one of the most ignored portion when it comes to site promotion. Everyone including me just try to get as many links as possible to the main page and totally ignoring the internal pages. Dire consequences i might add.

  60. Hire PHP web developer programmer March 16, 2008 at 5:11 AM

    Good explanation given by Jim. It is very helpful for us and we will keep in mind while promoting our website.

  61. BirdWatcher March 20, 2008 at 11:12 AM

    Thank you Jim for this insight into getting good ranking for internal pages. Learned a lot from this as most of the time what you hear and read is “Get links to your site” and to newbies like me, it would be to get as many links as possible to my main page and ignoring the internal pages. Never have thought that internal pages are that important. Assumed that as long the domain rank and the rest will follows. Thanks for the info.

  62. William SEO March 20, 2008 at 2:37 PM

    The way you explained the linking is very decent especially when page get deeper and it causes problem in getting good ranking. Well Jim if you we go for long tail keywords in this type of pages, i think this will work. I do appreciate your internal linking techniques that seems really helpful for both professionals and freshers.

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