Like Me? Follow Me.
Link building is amongst the most important areas of any SEO campaign - without a competitive link profile, even the most technically sound website will struggle to rank for its target keywords. Links to your site are considered as recommendations or citations and, for the majority of sites, they are most often directed to the homepage. The most common and generally accepted methods of link building for SEO, such as directory and press release submissions, tend to result in homepage links as well.
This presents a problem for SEOs because it is generally agreed that, to ensure high conversion rates, it best to deliver a site visitor to the page that is most likely to answer their query. In many cases, a site's homepage is just too general, and there is the risk that a visitor might bounce back to the search engine they came from, rather than attempt to dig further into the site to find the most appropriate content. Of course, high rankings for any page are welcome, but high rankings for target pages are optimal (and we are optimisers, after all!)
What's more, Google's Panda update has been rumoured to take the proportion of links to a site's homepage compared to its internal pages as a indication of overall quality. The theory goes, a disproportionate number of links to a site's homepage will suggest that it is fairly low quality, as very few other sites have linked to (and therefore "recommended") the "meat" of the content inside. A proportionally high number of links to the homepage in this instance also suggests manipulative SEO practices, which Google frequently reminds us to avoid.
What we want as SEOs is to ensure a healthy mixture of "SEO links" using optimised anchor text and naturally granted links from visitors to the site, spread throughout all areas of the site, with special attention given to targetted pages & subfolders.
So, what can you do?
Well, the first thing is also the most blindingly obvious - have a great site! Provide content that your visitors respond to, and your internal pages *will* attract links over time. Make them laugh, tell them something they haven't heard before, describe your product in a way that makes them need to buy it there and then, and then tell their friends about it. Remember that visitors to your site might only ever see one page, so make sure each word on every page is written with care. Don't think you can do that? Then hire a copywriter who can, and ensure they truly understand everything that makes your brand / business / service / product / website special!
When it comes to concerted link building methods, always remember your internal pages. There will be instances where a link to information held on one of your internal pages will be appropriate, where a link to your homepage might not - perhaps when commenting on a related blog, for example. Also look for high quality directories that offer deep links such as Octopedia and This Is Our Year, and include deep links in your article / press release / guest blog link building efforts.
There's more to your website than the homepage and your link profile should reflect this fact. Spread that link love around!