7 Simple Deep Linking Tactics You Ought to Use

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Most people who work on the web…whether they are veteran SEOs or web content strategists…know about deep linking.

They understand that it is all about linking internal pages. You link internal pages to other internal pages…and you get other sites to link to these internal pages

But few of them actually understand the advanced tactics of deep linking that reduce visitor bounce rate while improving page views, time on site and even subscriber numbers.

If you’d like to learn more about the importance of deep linking, deep linking tactics and when you should avoid deep linking…keep reading.

Let’s do a quick little inbound link audit on your site.

Before we get started, here’s a test. Go to SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer tool and enter your domain address in the box:

Hit enter and then click on the “Top Pages” tab:

And then calculate the number of inbound links to your home page versus inbound links to all other pages on your site.

If you have a ratio of 3 to 1 or higher…in other words, if three times as many links hit your home page as they hit every other page in your site…then you probably have a pretty high bounce rate.

What that means is people are not hitting internal pages. They are not getting the relevant content they want…and so they abandon the page!

From the start of any SEO strategy for a site you should have as a goal a ratio of 3 times more inbound links than your home page.

In fact, the higher you can get that ratio, the better.

3 reasons why you should deep link.

One reason you should deep link, like I mentioned above, is that it enhances the users experience. Sending a user to a deep page will probably better relate to his or her goals than sending them to your home page.

Besides, your home page can’t rank for every single keyword you want to optimize.

Let’s look at three other reasons…authority, relevancy and visibility…why deep linking is important to these concepts:

  1. Raise the authority of the entire site – If all you did was optimize and send traffic to your home page (not that you would be dumb enough to do that), then you might have a home page with a really high authority rank…but the rest of your pages had little or no authority. Well, when search engines looked at your entire site then those poor-authority pages would bring down your home pages authority rank, too. Looking at it positively, deep linking can help you increase your entire site’s authority.
  2. Increase your site’s overall relevancy – Because you don’t…nor can you…optimize your home page for every single keyword, then you must use internal pages. When the pages you publish contain those keywords in the meta data (URL, title tag, image attribute, etc.) and the body copy, then search engines will crawl and then index your page based upon that keyword. In other words, because the keyword is relevant to the page and you’ve linked to it with a keyword-rich anchor text from another page, Google will consider it an authority…and rank it high.
  3. Increase your site’s overall visibilityLarge sites suffer from too many pages not getting indexed because of their sheer size. This is where good navigational skills like deep linking come into play. These deep links…both from your site and other sites…will help search engines follow the path through your site to these hidden pages…and making them visible by indexing them.

Now that we’ve explored three good reasons for deep linking, let’s look at some tactics.

7 often-ignored deep linking tactics.

The nice thing about deep linking with these tactics is that it is really just about a shift in your thinking. You’ll see what I mean as you keep reading.

  1. Email signatures – It’s pretty common to put your home page address on a lot of your bio type data. For example, you’ll put your home page URL in your email bio. Don’t do that. Instead, link to an internal page that will add value to your email readers like I do with my 51 Business Ideas That Will Make You Look Twice. While this may not give you any SEO juice, it will definitely send traffic to a useful and compelling page that will hopefully get them sticking around and subscribing.
  2. Guest post bios – Another common flawed tactic when it comes to linking to your home page is when you write a guest post. You’ll commonly write something like “Neil Patel is a…and blogs at My Blog,” which links to your home page. Rather, link to a deep page in your site that will drive traffic to a relevant page…thus reducing the amount of bounces you’ll get.
  3. Blog comments – And it’s also pretty natural for you to drop your home page address in the website form on people’s blogs when you leave a comment. A better strategy is to leave a link to an internal page that is relevant to that audience (even if it is nofollowed). You will get traffic from that link…and if you send them directly to your home page, then they won’t know where to go next.
  4. Forums – Like with blog comments, if you leave a comment on a forum, make sure you manually enter a URL that will drive traffic to an internal page instead of your home page.

  1. Social publishing sites – Your next tactic is to use social publishing sites like Squidoo or Scribd…and link to internal pages on your site. Squidoo lets you create single web pages on a narrowly-defined topic, while Scribd will let you upload documents that you can share. Keep in mind that when you create accounts with these social publishing sites that you do not link to your home page! Link to a relevant internal page.
  2. Social networking sites – Wherever you’ve created a social media account…Google+Twitter, Pinterest, etc….make sure that when they ask for a link you don’t give them your home page link. Choose a page that is relevant to that audience.
  3. Article syndication – Any time you create an article with a byline for syndication…make sure you choose a relevant link to a page that will enhance the user experience. In the example below I linked the keyword “SEO Consultant” to an internal page on my site…not to my home page, which I did with “QuickSprout”.

How to help deep link users become subscribers.

As you build your website to accommodate visitors who don’t come in at your front door but by a back door, there are some usability elements you need to think about.

Here are three:

  • Where is the user? When a visitor comes in through an internal page give him clues about where he is in your site. You can do this by positioning your logo in the upper-right corner of the page, a one-click route to the home page (usually accomplished in a “Home” tab) and a search option.
  • Where else can the user go? Once your visitor digests the relevant information on that internal page, give him or her options to explore more of your site. Give them a list of related articles or a list of popular articles.

  • What else has the user been? It’s important to understand that visitors can arrive at your internal page hundreds of ways. This means you can’t assume that they’ve followed a scripted path and seen everything you’d hope they’d seen. For example, this is why it’s standard to put an email newsletter subscribe box on every page. You can’t assume they’ll see…let alone land!…on a landing page promoting that email newsletter. Make sure relevant information is always available for them.

When you shouldn’t deep link.

Sometimes deep linking is not wise…like in cases where you need them to see a higher-level page before they see the one below it.

This is true, for example, for a site like Which Test Won? They run tests, get the results and then challenge you to guess the results.

If you were driven to the page with the results, then you’d know the answer and the challenge would be spoiled for you.

Keep search engines from linking to these pages by using this code:

<META NAME=”robots” CONTENT=”noindex”>

That will keep the search engines from indexing that page.


Sending traffic to your home page is not a good SEO strategy for most websites, so your home page to internal link page ratio should be 1 out of 3 or higher. Deep linking is the method to help you do that.

The wonderful thing about deep linking is that it will raise the authority, relevancy and visibility of your website in the search engines. More importantly, though, deep linking will drive your visitors to relevant pages that satisfy their goals…thus reducing the chances they’ll bounce and increasing the chances that they will become dedicated readers.

What other benefits and deep linking tactics can you share?

Neil Patel
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Neil also blogs about marketing and entrepreneurship at... Read Full Bio
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  • Nick Stamoulis

    “Once your visitor digests the relevant information on that internal page, give him or her options to explore more of your site. ”

    A good piece of advice that many site owners don’t take advantage of. You don’t want any site on your page to be a dead end, because it is possible that someone will come to your site via that page. You want to have a good internal linking structure to keep traffic moving.

  • Shaun Connell

    Great article. I’ll be incorporating all of this in the coming 30 days.

  • Erik Johnson

    Just did the analysis on one of my sites. The bounce rate is high… and of course the home page gets much more traffic than the rest of the site.

    Old design of said website had much more internal linking and the bounce rate was much lower.

    Still, with a lot of internal pages it’s easy for people to get caught clicking around to dead ends. Conversion rate is more important than bounce rate to me.

    I guess the objective then is to make sure those internal pages keep people saying “yes” and driving them to convert. I’d rather not worry about bounce rate if people are going to pages that aren’t what they want and leaving for that reason.

  • David McCormick

    Thanks Neil. It bears repeating, again and again and again, that it’s all about giving the user what they want and expect to see, especially when deep linking. The most important part of what you’ve said here, at least IMO, is to keep the linked-to pages relevant to the topic, expectation, etc.

    It’s always annoying when you follow a deep link to find not what you expect, but rather whatever page the site owner is feeling the need to promote that week. It may make the site owner feel good temporarily, but the end result will be negative.

    Unfortunately, it’s common that deep linking isn’t possible via comments. When trying to add a deep link the comment won’t be accepted/posted. That seems to be the case even here on SEJ. 🙁

  • Oumbrella

    Thanks Niel for this post. I have read some of your article and they all were very informative and good thing is that you stick to basics of SEO and what we should follow to reach out people. Great post!!!

  • barbie

    Yes I use opensiteexplorer from a pretty long time. A saw a new trend this days, internal pages rank better then home pages for specific keywords and that’s the result of deep linking.

  • Al Sefati

    Thanks for this article. Whats the ration you would say for the links like homepage to inside pages? Would you say its like 90% to 10%? I mean for it to be natural.

  • HostMafia

    Neil , thanks for this article.
    Deep linking is much better than homepage linking.

  • iMarketing Asia

    Actually, deep linking is better because as you say the reader gets a more accurate information about your product and services or about the topic you are sharing. Honestly with my experience, most of the time the inner pages ranks better for a certain keyword that you are targeting. Im not sure if its about the inner pages’ url or the content inside that inner page is the reason.
    Your tactics here are great and will bookmark it as we can use this as our reference when we do link building.

  • James

    Interesting article. With some of our websites, there are just four or five keywords (basically synonyms of each other) that provide the vast bulk of traffic. Do you think in this case, where there isn’t much longtail, then going for the homepage is better?

  • monurohila

    deep linking is better because as you say the reader gets a more accurate information about your product and services or about the topic you are sharing

  • Erkan

    This open site explorer doesn’t worked with one of my sites. I mean it just shows zero as result. What does it mean? Any ideas? Thanks for the article by the way

  • Ben

    One deep link strategy that I am using is to retrieve links from a table, that contains 30 million links to one page that is dynamically created to show a vast variety of results , and place them on the home page invisibly ten at a time .

  • Thomas

    Good ideas and pointers. Saw your kissmetrics offer through usertesting.com and maybe will try it out.

  • Ahmet

    Your deep linking is better because as you say the reader gets a more accurate information about your product and services or about the topic you are sharing-rivals Does not Want You To Know These secret facts…

  • Alexey Krasnoriadtsev

    Deep linking is so important for the web, it’s amazing that it’s not yet widely used in mobile. There are many challenges with implementing successful deep linking strategy for mobile. We have figured out the solution, to enable deep linking in native mobile apps and mobile web. Using the mURL.cc SDK, mobile developers can now share content with deep links that work for all platforms their app supports regardless of which type of platform the post was created.

  • Shawn

    Really good article, thanks for posting. The site explorer link is really helpful. We have used a number of these techniques on our own website and customers websites as well.

  • Pranjal

    That’s one fantastic article by you Neil, but I think you should sum some more ways to build deeplinks. It’s really easy to create backlinks for homepage but, it becomes super hard on how to create deeplinks. Plus not all blog owners allows user to deeplink specific URL of our sites in the comments boxes.

    Thanks 🙂

  • Brandi Hammon

    Thank you for this post. I am soaking up everything I can on SEO right now. I have a competitor that uses a ton of deep links and MOZ shows the links but I can not find them in the source code on the page. Is there a tool or open source that internally links everything? I did see “deeplink” in the source. Sorry, I am new to this so it may be a very dumb question. Thanks for great info!