Building a diverse portfolio of links, including deep links, is part of a successful link building strategy.
But can your deep link ratio affect your organic search rankings?
Read on to learn whether there is any connection between the deep link ratio and improved Google rankings.
The Claim: Deep Link Ratio Is A Ranking Factor
Deep links are any inbound links that point to pages on your website that aren’t your homepage.
(To be clear: this article does not discuss the other type of deep link, which is when a link points to content within an app. Because that type of deep linking is specific to mobile apps, it has no impact on the organic search results and is definitely not a Google ranking factor.)
What then is a deep link ratio?
The deep link ratio is a measurement of the total number of inbound links to every page on your website vs. the total number of inbound links to only your homepage.
Calculating Deep Link Ratio
Let’s say you have a total of 1,584 inbound links to your website. Of those links, 698 are to your homepage.
The remaining 886 are to specific pages on your website.
To calculate your deep link ratio, take your number of deep links divided by the total number of inbound links.
886 / 1,584 = 55.9% deep link ratio
The claim is that this percentage would suggest a more natural link profile as compared to a site with 90% of their links to their homepage.
The Evidence For Deep Link Ratio As A Ranking Factor
In the Advanced SEO documentation in Google Search Central, there is a page on link building tactics to avoid.
You won’t find a mention of deep links here, however.
Here’s what Google suggests:
“The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community.
Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.”
This approach could lead to deep links, but doesn’t specifically mention deep links or a ratio.
Not much is officially said by Google or Googlers about deep link ratio as a ranking factor.
In 2004, you’ll find one of the first mentions of a deep link ratio from a link building agency. It includes an example of how to calculate your deep link ratio, but no evidence for it being a ranking factor.
In 2006, SEOBook.com published a question about deep link ratio. Similar to the article in 2004, it offers a calculation method to determine your ratio of deep links but no further evidence that it affects your rankings.
In 2006, a study on the Link-Based Characterization and Detection of Web Spam correlated a high number of homepage links with “spammier” websites.
Deep Link Ratio As A Ranking Factor: Our Verdict
It’s important to build a diverse link portfolio for your website, which includes a mix of homepage and deep links.
But there is no magic ratio of deep links to homepage links.
While links are a confirmed ranking factor, an exact deep link ratio is highly unlikely to be a direct Google ranking factor.
If anything, we could see Google using a deep link ratio as a webspam check – perhaps for the purposes of identifying spammy link building footprints.
However, unless Google or a spokesperson is on record saying deep links aren’t a ranking factor, then we can’t definitively rule it out.
One thing we know for sure, via Google’s John Mueller, is that the total number of inbound links doesn’t matter.
So if a raw number of links doesn’t matter to Google, would a deep link ratio of those inbound links really help Google rank webpages in any meaningful way?
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