Deep links (links from one page to another in your site or links from other sites to pages other than your homepage) are an important strategy in SEO. Ratios such as the number of deep links to non optimized links are a fundamental mathematical equation that determines the percentage of inbound links from other sites and aids in defining important pages to search engines.
Using deep links both internally to link to relevant content from a topical page and externally by link building or controlling inbound link anchor text in the proper context is important to define or produce relevance for your website.
Everything in nature leaves a trail and similarly each form and function can be reduced to its mathematical equivalents. But how does this apply to SEO?
Traffic is based on two things, “links from other sites and links from other sites”. Sounds pretty straight forward right? An advertisement whether it is pay per click, a press release or an image banner is a link, a search result is a link, we navigate from page to page or site to site with links, the underlying conclusion denotes that by mastering the context of frequency, consistency, structure, site architecture and the prevalence of continuity, we can send a clear signal to search engines and humans alike about the content of our pages.
One way to do this is through building multiple links to pages other than your home page (known as deep linking or deep links). Through using deep links, you are passing on vital ranking potential to the site, which eventually transcends where the link is directed and flows link weight back to the home page.
This is why it is increasingly important to only have links that are targeted to share this vital link juice from the homepage with other areas that are an oasis for pages you wish to make pivotal in your site architectures framework.
Now for the exercise, the deep link / internal link audit.
1) determine which pages have the most link weight
2) determine which of your pages are optimized (with the appropriate anchor text)
3) consolidate internal links that are congruent with page theme
4) use deep links to give them traction in search engines for a higher relevance score
Deep links send a clear message to humans and search engines, that each page of your site is important, when harnessed properly, deep links are one of the most effective off page factors aside from anchor text relevance.
So, how do you determine what Google deems as the most relevant page for your keywords in your site when building links? Not sure, just ask with a simple link command.
site:sitedomain.com keyword or key phrase (just replace the sitedomain with your own and the keywords with the keywords you want to emphasize). We have created a nifty little SEO tool for this purpose, just enter the domain and the keywords to find the most suitable landing pages.
To take it one step further, you could log in to your Google Webmaster Tools account, look at the internal links tab and assess the link distribution framework of your site architecture and determine if you need to salvage some pages from starvation (orphaned pages) or use your power house link magnets (the pages with massive quantities of internal links) in a more optimized and refined manner. Personally with strong internal links right under your nose, the first thing you should do is perform a link audit.
For example, if I have a sub folder or sub page that has 1000 internal links referencing it from other parts of the site and less fortunate pages only have 7 internal links (and that is a page I want to rank in search engines) then I need to map out the flow of link weight to be more conducive to accomplish this.
The other point is, with only 7 internal links linking to an internal page, it may rank for an “exact match” phrase, but only for something on the bottom of the barrel compared to any potential keyword combination enter in a boolean search query.
To rank for a competitive term or key phrase you need two things (1) strong internal links focused on quality and relevance from related pages (think Wikipedia who has an extremely high deep link ratio) and (2) enough external links (using those same keywords) from relevant sources.
Internally (to increase relevance) just find your strongest pages or determine which pages are linking to that page, by cutting and pasting the full URL in Yahoo Site Explorer for example. Select the only from this URL drop down menu and look at the pages that link to it.
After taking note, go through those pages and determine the positioning and relevance of the outbound link and determine if you are effectively employing the most appropriate anchor text (for every link on that page).
Once you edit or audit the page (by use the main root phrase of the target page as anchor text) then go through all of the pages from the list and tidy up your internal links.
Something as simple as this can increase your internal links distribution of link weight and relevance and have multiples pages making their debut in search engines to drive even more relevant traffic to your pages.
Now you can consider that stage one in honing internal link weight, but in order to “flip the switch”, you will need to do the same using external links from other pages. However that is another topic in its entirety.
On page factors are often overlooked for their ability to impact just how visible your site is or how it impacts your hang time for competitive phrases. Through leveraging deep links (both internally and externally) you elevate your content, the pages and the site to another level, which will become painfully obvious to your competition over time.
In closing, finding the appropriate deep link ratio for your pages, ensuring that the informational structure of your content has a blueprint and that you are not simply partaking in random practices that diffuse continuity are the foundation of advanced SEO.
Reducing complex algorithms to their root functions to reverse engineer relevance falls into this category, but sometimes all you need is common sense, directive and a penchant for research to shed light on why your #20 instead of #1 for a competitive phrase.
Deep links most definitely hold a key to unlocking your websites latent ranking potential and when coupled with basic LSI (latent semantic indexing) and word stemming, it is possible to optimize a site for an entire market segment, not just a few high vertical keywords.
Just remember it’s not about who has the biggest link, it is about who distributes the link juice better than the competition. It is a competitive marketplace out there, and there is a reason there are only 10 spots at the top for the creme of the crop. Optimizing ones internal link structure and mapping the appropriate balance of external link ratios is one area of search engine optimization that any website can benefit from.