Ultimate Guide to WordPress SEO – Deep Linking

You might have noticed that throughout this series on WordPress SEO, I’ve been doing something rather peculiar.  I’ve been linking to my own content far more than I’ve been linking out.  Now, this isn’t because I’m a stingy linker.  I just happen to have a goal in the methodology I’m using in this series with links.  That strategy is called deep linking, and it is one of the best ways to not only increase SEO, but also drive visitors deeper into your blog or website.

Deep linking is the art of linking relevant keywords to related content within your own site. Essentially, you are leveraging your own site’s equity for gain.  What gain? In order to understand what is to be gained, one must first understand how links affect SEO.

Links and SEO

As I mentioned in my previous post regarding keyword density, SEO is so much more than just optimizing important segments of your website structure.  It has to do with calculations based on several different variables.  That doesn’t mean to ignore structural SEO, it just meanst that your job isn’t finished.

Included in those variables is the number of links your site, page, or post has pointing to it.

So, if I were to link out to a post written by my friend Ian Stewart on WordPress Child Themes, the next time Google crawls my site, it’s going to register that link as a “vote”, for lack of a better word, for his post, and associate that post with the keywords I used in the link.  So, in essence, I just voted that his post should rank high for the keyphrase “WordPress Child Themes”.

Make sense?

Deep Links and SEO

I’ll freely admit that self-referential links probably don’t count nearly as much as incoming, external links.  But they do help.

So, what do you need to do? Here’s what I do:

When I write a post, I don’t do any links at first.  I just write.  I find the external links that I want to use and keep them open in separate tabs.  Then, once I’m done writing and proofreading, I start filling in external links wherever I find it beneficial. Linking out is always a good practice, and doing 100% deep links could hurt you.

Then, I read over my post one more time, this time keeping an eye out for words or phrases that may be related to content I’ve written in the past.  For instance, if I mention the word “homepage”, I might link to the post I did called “3 Ways to Optimize Your Blog Homepage”.  Sometimes, I may even reword my sentence to get that link to fit with a more relevant (and more desirable) keyword or keyphrase.  So I may modify my sentence to include the words “homepage design” or “homepage optimization”.

For me, I want this series’ opening post (with links to all the posts in the series) to rank well for the search term “WordPress SEO”.  This is actually pretty difficult, given that there are much older, established sites out there with many, many incoming links that I have to compete with.  So obviously, good SEO and deep linking won’t be enough to put me at the top of the list.  As it currently stands, I’m ranked at the top of the third page for that search term. It won’t bring in thousands of visitors a day, but it will net me long-tail benefits.

And for less competitive search terms like “WordPress theme search engine optimization”, I just so happen to be #2 in the search results.  That’s not bad at all, given I’ve got very few quality links back to that article.  I achieved that ranking nearly 100% through good SEO and deep linking.

Don’t Overdo it

When most people discover deep linking, they tend to go crazy with deep linking in posts.  Let me encourage you not to do that.

Deep linking is great, but use it in moderation.  Here are some quick tips for deciding when to deep link:

  1. Only Deep link if the URL is relevant to the phrase. Don’t force it!
  2. Keep deep links to around 5 per post. Posts that are littered with links tend to look spammy.
  3. Deep link, and link out to others at an even ratio. Look for ways to link to other bloggers.
  4. Remember that deep linking isn’t just for SEO. It can drive deep traffic too.
  5. Keep links short. Don’t link entire sentences.

Remember, this is about gaining strategic advantages, not huge leaps ahead.  Deep linking won’t work overnight, and it won’t land you on the front page for competitive keywords.  But it is just one more tool you can use to give yourself the upper hand in the SEO battle.

Reader Interactions


  1. Awesome blog and great article. Although I do practice deep linking, I think I could do a better job. I tend to use more external links than deep links.

  2. I have gone through this entire series in the past day. I felt like I was optimizing most of your methods, but you still showed me some new ways to help bump up my rankings (Meta description in particular).

    Do you feel like posts that do well with social media also do well in the SERPs? For example, I wrote a post called “How To Master Photoshop In Just One Week.” This post got huge on Stumble Upon and almost hit the front page of Digg. Just as well it was linked to by many different sites.

    Right now, if you google “master photoshop,” I’m on the front page, third link down. Now, maybe it is just the fact that I’m a PR5, or I do utilize many methods you talked about in this series, but do you think that social media has anything to do with SERP rankings? I’d be interested to hear what you think.

    Great series by the way, I really love it!

  3. @Brian:
    I’ve seen evidence in support of that. Most of these social networking sites have very high pagerank homepages and inner pages, and their outgoing links are almost always dofollow. So it would make sense that a link from one of these sites would score you major google points.

    Assuming Google crawled the site while you were on a high pagerank page, it is definitely likely that they passed google juice to you.

  4. I’ve bought a couple of products on the SEO for WordPress subject and you really put these guys to shame. I never really put that much emphasis on deep linking, but I see I’ve really been missing out on some authority. Thanks

  5. Great post! I do deep link casually, but not very often. “Keep deep links to around 5 per post. Posts that are littered with links tend to look spammy.” is a good advice for me.

    But here one doubt on this we can do for my intenal pages this process, and what are benifits for me.

    plz Reply for me

  6. Nathan, great post. I have use alinks and simple tag plugins for autolinking deeplinks. 1) alinks is good but the creator has vanished from the web, so it has an ongoing support issue. 2) simple tags is also good but you can not control the number of autolinks in each post. Any ideas for autolinking? or any other plugins for SEO that you like. Thanks

  7. I’ve just discovered your website. In the last hour I’ve learned more about SEO from your website than I have from others in the past month. I’ve definitely bookmarked it and will return for more.

  8. Great post Nathan and Great advice as always.

    Deep linking is a vital part of any SEO project but most webmasters don’t realize the importance of linking out as well as linking in.

    We get that problem all the time, our members only want to get links in and some strive to “Not” place any outgoing links on their pages…

    I’d love to see a post by you describing your take on outgoing links and why you believe they are important :)

    I have mentioned in several interviews the importance and not only, but the actual “Need” to have outgoing links in order to look natural and gain Google compliance.

    This is basic SEO but it needs to be stressed and explained because to many, it is not common sense, and based on the many articles written and on poor advice given, new webmasters are led to believe the opposite.