Deep Linking – How and When to Do It and Is It Illegal?

2 comments

Sitting in on a class about “debunking SEO myths” at Affiliate Summit West was not as exciting as I had hoped. Over all, it was a decent attempt to educate us about some misconceptions regarding SEO but it seemed more like a conversation about myths and problems within SEO and not HOW to fix or debunk these. I honestly had a problem with that since most of the attendees were paying over $1,500 to get into this convention and were not getting any real world value.

The topic of spiders, specifically Google’s, came up and how usually the home page will have a higher PageRank then deeper pages and that idea has a relationship to internal pages ranking in the search results pages. I completely agreed with the speaker’s assessment but something the speaker did not mention was that there are ways to get around this. Deep pages can have high PageRank and deep pages can rank well in the SERPS. See proof that deep linking can reap PR and quality rankings with this example of a deep link with decent PR and #9 in Google for the term “used Toyota“.

Situations where you may need to deep link are going to be when your internal pages are in Google’s supplemental results, your results are omitted in the SERPs, your internal pages are not getting crawled, indexed or cached or your internal pages are just not ranking well in the SERPs. In my experience, if you are operating an authority site with high trust rank, then it may be easier for you to get rankings for your internal pages with a few links. If you have a site with lower trust rank, you may need more links to its internal pages. Jim Boykin put together a nice tool to analyze deep link ratio. Rob Sullivan put together a pretty nice list on how to build a deep link campaign.

Surprisingly, when I was doing some additional research on deep linking I found that there have been a handful of court cases where certain courts have deemed deep linking illegal. A Danish court swung the gavel on deep linking and Search Engine Watch had something very interesting to say about that. Other reported cases have been in Texas and England. Aaron Walls over at SEObook said that the idea of people suing based on webmasters linking to their website is “hilariously dumb“.

Deep linking to internal pages is a technique SEOs have been utilizing for a long time and something that web users have been doing naturally since the creation of the web. Every time anyone uses del.icio.us, furl, newsvine, reddit, digg or anytime anyone references something they read and links to the source, they are in fact deep linking. The idea that a webmaster would even think of suing a site for linking to them is absurd to me. This starts a slippery slope and quite literally could cripple the web.

What would life be like if we could not link to internal pages? How would webmaster cope? What are your thoughts on deep linking?

About the Author

Joe Whyte has been developing, managing and implementing successful, innovative, bleeding edge digital marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies for over 7 years.

Add Your Comments

  • (will not be published)

2 Comments

  1. It's absurd of courts to expect people to not deep link. I think rulings like that show more that many judges don't understand the Internet or how people use it. Same goes for webmasters who get steamed about deep links. If they understood the advantages, they'd be for it.

  2. The only valid reason a site should have for not wanting to be deep linked is if the information linked to is private or proprietary. If either of these are the case than the page should not be open to the public, it should be behind a password. That doesn't mean anyone can copy the information, but anyone should be able to link to it showing it is there. Putting information on a website is inviting the public to read it.