SEO

Why You Should Deep-Link Your Blog

In Exposing the Invisible Web to Search Engines, I mentioned that new blogs often have pages that are essentially invisible, and that many remain that way. One reader strongly disagreed, to the point of saying on Digg that he was burying the story for being inaccurate. The fact is, under the definition of Invisible Web, any page not indexed is invisible. While blog pages MAY get indexed, they do not have to be.

Disproof by example is simple enough: I write on a couple of medium volume PR6 blogs which, even after nine months, have not indexed several of my posts. I make a habit of deep-linking to two or three archived posts in each new article I post. This is a necessity, because my hypothesis is that under normal conditions (i.e., not deep-linking), most new blogs will never have all of their pages indexed.

I know this will be a touchy point. My entire intent is to suggest that deep-linking is a good idea for numerous reasons:

  1. Expose relevant content.
    Help readers find older, relevant content when they view an article. If they click through, this increases the time they spend on the site, helping your brand.
  2. Build relevance.
    Assign importance to archived posts, as far as search engines are concerned.
  3. Track scrapers.
    When your content is republished elsewhere, having deep-links increases the chance that you’ll find the duplicate content.
  4. Build keyword rank.
    Help your blog rank for additional keyphrases by using good anchor text and deep-links.
  5. Spider bait.
    Deep-linking means spiders will crawl deeper.

I have used this technique to not only successfully get alternate terms to rank for a site but also to build the PR (PageRank) of archived pages whose content was otherwise only indexed as part of “category” pages or monthly archives. Here is a short sequence that shows the internal link structure of a hypothetically typical blog under normal conditions (i.e., not deep-linking):

Please note the following:

  1. The purple node marked “hp” is the home page.
  2. The blue nodes represent “/page/n” types of pages that you find in blog platforms such as WordPress. Thus, the node-link structures above do not apply to all blogs.
  3. The green nodes represent article pages (as opposed to the non-chronological “pages” found in WordPress).
  4. In frames 4-9, posts A-F actually link to the home page. These links are not shown to reduce clutter.
  5. Posts A-I may or may not interlink with each other. If they do, it’s likely because of a “recent posts” blog.
  6. Pages p2-p3 may or may not have a link to each from the home page.
  7. Page p1 in this example is actually a clone of the home page, and is used for convenience. Depending on how a blog is configured, p1 may either (a) be the same as the home page; (b) may not exist; (c) may exist but serve the functionality of a “page 2″.
  8. Each page p1-p3 and the home page only display three posts maximum, purely for convenience of diagramming.
  9. The concepts here can be extrapolated to other blog platforms to a degree.

The nodes in the animated sequence are minimally “connected” and thus article pages are less likely to be indexed. The content itself gets indexed, but usually as part of “/page/1″, “/page/2″, or “category” or monthly archive pages. These are all transient pages, so even though the content is indexed, it may be difficult to find the real page in a search engine. I find this happens to me regularly even on PR6 sites, even if I use very specific search phrases with double quotes. But once I deep-link, the archived page gets indexed sooner, and the page rank rise – though probably due to several factors, not just deep-linking alone.

Suffice it to say that even if you disagree with me and believe your blog pages are not technically “invisible” and will eventually get linked under normal circumstances, you should still build deep-links to your archived pages.

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35 thoughts on “Why You Should Deep-Link Your Blog

  1. Raj – Have you considered external factors link deep links from external sites? Essentially the kind of behaviour you see lots of in the blogosphere – people linking to specific content rather than to homepages.

    Were your invisible pages completely lacking in inbound links?

  2. @Gerard: Yeah, apparently, but I’m not 100% sure. I don’t have access to the main author account (the blogs are on Typepad, with forwarded domains). I’m not sure how the trackback works there, but I only see them once in a while. Though there is a lot of archived content prior to me to compete with. When I started deep-linking to myself, search was more successful.

  3. I blog on a PR0 website. I started it 2 months ago. Each and every single post is indexed and visible with site: in Google. While I’m not saying that deeplinking is bad – once again – model blog around the reader – give him links when he needs them. When making a search for even the lowest ranking page in site: query (i.e. searching for a phrase in that post) gives me results. My suspicion: there must be some penalties you have incurred and deeplinking was able to overrule them or smth.

  4. When a scraper picks up one of my blog articles, I generally gain around 20 deep links.

    I get less deep links from syndication partners, because they generally chop off my related posts and tags.
    I am not sure if they do it for everyone, but I encouraged WebProNews to include a link back to my original blog posts rather than use some pre-determined author box. Links determine origin for duplicate content.

    I use extensive internal deep linking, and I even automatically increase the number of deep links on popular posts that receive a lot of links and comments to conserve juice and distribute it to other less loved corners.

    It is more a ball linking structure than classic SEO site structures, but blogs are a fairly uncontrollable medium especially if you use dofollow for comments, thus for sites that are encouraging community, I find it best to spread things out.

    When leaving comments I also use deep links to relevant content as much as possible. It might not be an ideal link with anchor text, but then lots of blog links aren’t anyway.

    A link to Andy Beard, but to a post rather than my domain is actually fairly common.

    In this case I am linking to my tag page for linking strategy.

  5. @Raj:

    You mentioned that you are blogging on Typepad…In WordPress, there’s a Related Posts plugin that helps a lot with deep linking. It also exposes readers to deeper content. I’m not familiar with Typepad, but if there is something similar I’d recommend it.

    Even with WordPress, a bit of optimization is required to make sure deep posts get indexed. One is navigation – does your blog paginate (ex. “[ Prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Next ]” ) or use the default ( ex. “Next >>” ) for linking to past posts? Pagination will help. Also, many blogs don’t come stock with a site map (html not xml) – fixing that also helps a great deal.

    The key is to keep every page of the site 3 clicks or less from the home page.

  6. @WebGeek. Good point. The owners do not use “recent posts” or anything of the sort. Only category and monthly archive links.

  7. Nice post Raj,

    It does not only make sense from an SEO perspective, but also from the reader and from the author.

    Next to honorable reasons like citation, reference, recommendation, making aware of, is there also the egoistic reason of the author of “I don’t want to repeat myself over and over again”.

    Repeating yourself is no fun, wastes your time and does not help to make the post shorter and easier to digest for the reader.

    I think I illustrated this today with my (four)post series that refers to various older posts of mine that were each also pretty long…Imagine if I would have repeated all that … uh.. Post X Part 1 of xx … also available as eBook hehe…Q.E.D..

    Sometimes are you also referring to a process that progresses or changes over time, where you want to show the reader the process of that change for whatever reason, e.g. surroundings changed or your opinion changed.

  8. @Carsten: Thanks. I think mine is a little light. I linked to an archive from over 2 yrs ago that talks about it in depth. I’m going to read your series later in the week. Though you bring up great points above in your comment that I’d forgotten to consider: brevity, citation, etc. Multi-author blogs have so much more dimension with deep cross-linking author posts.

  9. Deep linking when doing comments on blogs (like Andy does above) makes total sense and should improve the value of comments.
    If you have a page on your site that is more relevevant to the topic of the blog post than your front page, it would make sense to include that link instead of just a generic one to your homepage.

  10. @Johan: Yeah, I guess there’s something to be said for the relevance of a good comment, and a link within the comment.

  11. don’t forget trackbacks which could help you out, but most now use nofollow rel tags on they’re trackbacks to keep the spammers at bay.

  12. Deep linking does make sense. I routinely will link back to a previous post as long as the conversation is similar. Still, getting those links from other sites is something we all need to work on.

  13. Matt, one thing that deep-linking might help accomplish is exposing older articles that another blogger visiting your site may find linkworthy.

  14. This was a great post, and I do very much agree with what you have said. The fact is some blog pages simply do not seem to get indexed, i know because this has happened to me. It is very disheartening for a new blogger to spend ages writing a post only for it never to get indexed or go supplemental, so yes i agree getting deeplinks to keep your pages active is a must.

  15. On our blogs we always use a few social bookmarks to propmote each new post, this helps get the page indexed quickly and we pickup some traffic along the way. Nice post

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  17. Raj you are truly an inspiration and I thank you for all of the time you have spent to educate the ignorant masses such as I. Great post and thank you!

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