6 September 2007
It appears to be a fairly common thing for people to judge their site’s success on the pagerank of their homepage. Subsequently, they focus quite a bit on just getting backlinks to their homepage and no other links. It may make you feel better when your homepage ranks PR4, but you have no other links to any of your content pages, but in the long run is it the best strategy?
The main point behind pushing your main page is that once a given page has built up pagerank, it passes on pagerank (in high doses) to all the pages linked from there. Your site probably has all your important links linked 1-2 pages away from your homepage, so once you get that magical google sauce on your homepage, you are free to do with it as you please. It certainly simplifies the game a bit.
However, I think deep linking (linking to internal pages besides your main page) has a lot of advantages as well.
To simplify things, let’s say that if your homepage is PR4, then each internal link off that page will be PR3, and links from there PR2, etc. It is certainly not as simplistic as this, but you get the general idea; rank passed to subsequent links is diminishing.
Now, lets say you find a way to get relevant links from another domain (either through directory listings, posting comments on dofollow sites, or any number of 1000 different ways people build links).
If you post your main domain, you get the ranking once, and you can assume that the rank will propagate around your site. Easy peasy.
However, if you have a blog with useful articles, the path to get to an older article is going to be several levels deep, and probably on a page with 15-50 other articles. Search engines will not pass much love onto those old articles. You are counting on one page to spread wealth along to *all* your other content.
What about deep linking? Now you have proper links back to many of your articles. Each passes on a suitable amount back to your homepage (which again propagates through the site). When that article becomes old, it will still have those direct links right to it, even if it is 5 levels deep on your site.
Advantages to deep linking
- Can get multiple pages linked from other sites that will each pass on good weight
- Pages with actual searchable content will get more of the magical google loving (as long as you directly promote them)
- All your pages link back to your main page, so it’s just another jump
- Allows you to target specific pages on your site that would be “friendly” for people to land on in search. This allows them to jump right into the action and find what they are looking for. When/if someone clicks on a link, they will get to the page exactly as you intend them to. Can be SEO optimized or whatever specifically for this purpose.
- If you are targeting multiple words on your site, you can target them to different landing pages
- Matches well with your already existing linkbaiting methods (if you so employ them)
- I’m going to go out on a limb and say if google sees 1000 links to your homepage and 0 links to the rest of your site; it is very likely they will sense that something is amiss. Natural traffic is normally deep linked.
Disadvantages to deep linking
- Not always optimal for sites with rotating content like blogs (but can be beneficial if you are not concentrating on recent news)
- If your link structure changes, you can be SOL
- Residual power will not be distributed equally around your site
It makes sense even for blogs, in the same way a trackback works, if you are posting a link to your blog in response to something or related to something.. six months down the line that link to your root domain isn’t going to have anything to do with the content you posted about. Deep link them right to the content they want.
I firmly believe that deep linking (in many cases, but not all) is a much better strategy for the long run for raising search engine rankings over just putting all your eggs in one basket. Also, if I see someone just linking their main page with a comment like “oh check out my blog for more information about this” I usually think “spam” or “I won’t be able to find the article they are talking about”. If I see a link directly to some random page, I personally am much more likely to check it out.
Thoughts and questions welcome. I am sure there are some advantages/disadvantages I have missed. Do not hesitate to throw in your own $0.02 on the subject.
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