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

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?