The strategies involved in search engine optimization can be broadly categorized into two main types. You have your external SEO tactics, which would include everything that happens outside of your website. It might involve submitting white papers to article directories in search of high value backlinks, for example. Then, you have your internal SEO tactics, which would include everything that happens within your website. This might include ensuring that you have a clean and easily accessible sitemap for the search engine spiders, or making sure that you have the proper metadata in place for each of your posts.
And while there will always be a great deal of value placed in acquiring terrific backlinks on high authority sites pointed back to your website, particularly when surrounded by relevant keywords and content, this does not mean that you should discount the links on your own website too. In particular, you should pay closer attention to your internal deep-linking scheme.
Perhaps we should first start with a very basic explanation of how this all works. You can link to the main homepage or root domain of your website, like linking to johnchow.com in this post, but that really doesn’t provide any value to the reader. And aside from your basic site navigation, it doesn’t provide much value to the search engine spiders either.
By contrast, when you link to a specific page or post on your site, like the article I wrote on why you shouldn’t build your Internet business on rented land, you are providing value to both the reader and to the search engine spiders. This is called a “deep” link, because it is linking “deep” into your site’s content archives.
Why is this important? Let’s approach this idea from three different directions.
First, deep links to your older blog posts are great for your readers. If they are already reading one of your current posts, it means that they are already interested in what you have to say about the current subject matter. By directing them to your older content and backing up your current arguments with further resources, you make it easier for them to find more posts and more content to enjoy.
This is good for you too, of course, because it helps to further solidify your reputation as an expert in your niche or industry. It also, by definition, reduces your bounce rate, as the individual readers are visiting multiple pages on your site.
Second, internal deep links are good for the search engine spiders. When the bots and spiders make their way through your website, they’ll automatically follow the links that you have on your pages. By including internal deep links in your blog posts, you are telling the spider bots what content is important and should be appropriately indexed. This is good for your SEO, as it means your older content should have a better chance at showing up in searches.
Third, you’ll want to use internal deep links for your own protection against scrapers. As I had mentioned some time ago, I experienced a growing problem with people scraping my RSS feed and republishing my blog posts without my consent. That’s why I switched to a summary RSS from a full feed RSS. And how was I able to tell when someone was scraping my content? With internal deep links.
Most scrapers are lazy, taking your unaltered content and publishing it directly on their sites. What this means is that everything, including images and formatting, is untouched… and this includes any links you have in your posts too. When you include at least one internal deep link in every blog post, it means that you’ll receive a trackback/pingback when the scraper illegitimately posts your content. You can then hunt them down and issue a DMCA notification. Without the pingback, the scraped content might go unnoticed.
Using internal deep links to your other posts is not going to solve all your problems, but it’s an incredibly valuable tool that should not be ignored.