Deep linking is what is done when a person links to webpages other than the homepage. The backlink should be optimized for the specific Keyword of that secondary (or 3rd tier)page, not for your website's homepage keyword. (Related article... How To Get Free Backlinks!)
All too easily, many webmasters/site owners fall into the redundant habit of linking nearly every backlink back to their homepage. But attaining inbound backlinks specifically for your 2nd and 3rd tier website pages is crucially important.
This builds up the backlink profile of your entire website and it raises the Search Engine Rank Position(SERP) of that particular page.
But even further, there are ways to optimize your efforts for the highest SERPs possible...
Truly optimized and effective deep linking means getting inbound backlinks to a valuable 2nd or 3rd tier page with the specific keyword in the actual link text.
For example, let's imagine that "summer water sports" is the specific keyword of one of your site's webpages. And you would really like to increase traffic to that content page, so you locate a blog or forum that talks about summer water sports. You then include a keyword anchored text backlink into the body of your post to deep link your website page.
This anchored text backlink, <a href="http://yourdomainname.com/summerwatersports.html">summer water sports</a>, would appear to the reader as "summer water sports." When the reader clicks on the link, they go straight to that specified website page rather than your homepage!
Now let's touch on a major way to find link partners to assist in implementing deep linking into your all-important inbound backlinking program...
FIND WHERE YOU COMPETITORS LINKS ARE COMING FROM
You main competitors' backlink profile and info are your holy grail if you are serious about winning the backlinking war. Smart website owners know the importance of backlinks and where to get them and many have already done tons of groundwork for you.
They have probably dealt with tons of rejections by the websites that are not currently in their inbound backlink profile. Their hard work will lead you to the webmasters who are giving backlinks. So your mission is to locate and look at what these savvy Webmasters have done and then do the same for your site.
Here's how it works. Let's pretend that you own a website named "puppies.com". Let's work with the keyword "puppy training" -- Of course, your goal is to either rank higher or make your already strong Search Engine ranking even stronger and less vulnerable to your competitors. This is what you do...
1. Go to Google.com and search for "puppy training"
2. Compare the SERPs for your site vs. the Top 10 on the first page of Google. Analyze this information.
If you are in he #1 position for this keyword, GREAT! But don't think you can rest on your behind, you better believe that your competition is studying your website as well. If you are not in one of the top positions, this should serve as a big reminder to keep grinding and working for more and more backlinks.
If you have a quality website with good quality content and are still getting beat by equal or lesser websites there is a clear reason why. It is most likely in the SPECIFIC backlinks that your competitors are being propelled by, you must investigate where these backlinks are coming from because they are the reason these competing sites are doing so well.
3. Use a proven Internet tool like Open Site Explorer.
This one of my favorite tools in discovering what my competitors are doing. "Competitors" means any website ranking on the first page of Google for the specific keyword your webpage is targeting, even if you are there yourself. But if you are not there, you can knock them out of that spot with the right info and execution so don't worry, just work.
Enter your competitors URLs and related info into this tool and it's like Superman's x-ray vision, you see right through your competitor site and collect their backlink locations and partners. You will find out which link partners' sites have a high Page Rank and which sites have high-traffic. This info is EXTREMELY valuable as well as not readily available to those who even know to look for it.
Examining the findings about competing and highly-ranked websites reveals lots of juicy potential for your site. You will find related niche-content sites, directories, related forums, etc.... a few options that you didn't know about (or even ones that you DID know about, but didn't consider for a backlink!)
4. Set A Goal = Make your goal to at least add 5 strong deep links straight to this 2nd or 3rd tier webpage, ideally with "puppy training" in the backlink's anchor text. If you aim high, you will have good results.
5. Go to the webpages that backlink to your competitor's site to get more information about the site owner supplying the backlink.
* If you often see "puppy training" (the keyword that you're focusing on at the moment) in the text of the backlink to your competitor, you can be sure that this Webmaster is pretty knowledgeable about backlinking.
This website owner has probably tons of in-depth research that you should take advantage of! They have likely discovered a load of websites that are willing to give, trade or sell backlinks to you as well!
** Wanna dig deeper? Do a VIEW SOURCE on the page with the backlinks. Find (control-f) the domain name to find the backlink. Then check to see if "rel=nofollow" is in the backlink. If it is it means that that website gives "no-follow" links, which are valued significantly less because Google claims that it does not give full value to these types of links. Yahoo will follow a no-follow backlink, and will index the page but still claims not to give any value for the link. I am in the opinion that if this is a link that is helping your competition, it is a link worth grabbing.
6. Contact the better websites that seem willing to give or exchange or sell backlinks.(Many times you will be required to pay for these links, you've been warned so please don't clutch your pearls when it's mentioned, this is a money business...)
It depends on how the site is set up but you might be allowed to write a niche-targeted article in exchange for a targeted, deep link to your specific webpage.
Always keep in mind that you are not backlinking to these sites for the direct traffic, although that would be a cool bonus, ultimately, your goal is to improve your Search Engine Ranking Position(SERPs) for the specific keyword for the specific page that you are deep linking to. So be certain to include that keyword term in the article you provide, the same way you would for your own website, and include it in the backlink to your site's page.
Or, if it's not a site that wants articles, it might be a blog that gives "do-follow links" for quality comments. Or they may be care to sell or exchange links.
Although there is FAR more value in a one-way incoming backlink, there is still value in exchanging backlinks with other quality websites, but just like any other method for building your inbound backlink profile, it should be only a part of your overall backlinking plans and program. It stands to reason that Google would prefer to see you eating a well-balanced diet of backlinks links rather than all one type, so get all types and get tons of them on a consistent basis.
DEEP LINK DIRECTORY SUBMISSION
I've been getting emails asking about this so let me answer it here, as far as deep link directory submissions are concerned.... The answer is primarily no, unfortunately there are not many deep link directories available, when submitting a directory submission, they usually require that you link to your homepage, deep linking through directories should not be a focus when you are working on this area of your backlink program.
LINK TO THOSE YOU INFO-STALK IF.....
If your "search engine ranking competitor" isn't a true "competitor" in the real business sense of the word, maybe your competitor would be interested in a link exchange. At the end of the day this helps both of you against everyone else and it's clear that the Search Engines value both of your websites for that specific term.
Deep linking is an important way to improve specific rankings for specific 2nd tier and 3rd tier content pages. Remember that the traffic the bring in is every bit as value as traffic from you homepage. It's really all about building your site's reputation so that you get found by web searchers at the Search Engines for more and more words.
Remember to develop your inbound backlinks in a diverse manner (meaning from different types of link sources), and keep in mind that eventually, the power of quality content drives tons of off-page factors, so that should not be overlooked because the Search Engines use that to help rank your site as well.
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