1 dumb SEO tactic that will get your site penalised

I don’t write up every post I take exception to on the internet (I tweet about it) but when 800+ people have shared some really dangerous advice I feel I probably should. Moreover, I’ve had discussions about this at conferences and in meetings – and I want to preempt that happening again.

Entrepreneur.com published this post on 11th January 2017. It’s called ‘4 dumb SEO tactics that will get your site penalised.’ Number 1 on the list? Linking to your homepage.

From the article

Some people still believe that acquiring more links to the homepage of your website will help that website to rank higher. These people are still living in 2005. Google doesn’t rank websites. It ranks pages. That is why you need to link to quality content within your website and not the homepage.

The opposite of this is true.

  • Linking to the homepage of your website is fine. Encouraged even.
  • Depending on the content, linking to a page within your website can be incredibly difficult. Creative pieces designed to get links…fine. It’s almost impossible to get links to commercial pages and trying to do so will vastly reduce your success rate. You’re just wasting your time.
  • Generally, a link building strategy is most successful (i.e. gets the most links and the best results) when using a creative asset, within the site, on its own URL – that is no way tied into a commercial proposition. Homepage is second. Useful content (how-to, guides etc.) is necessary for rankings but it doesn’t get links.
  • Any brand activity

In 2011 Neil Patel wrote

I personally try to make sure that 80% of my links, if not more, are going to internal pages […] What you’ll notice when your internal pages start to get more links, the ranking of your homepage will also start going up. It’s because search engines don’t just try to evaluate where you should rank on a page-by-page basis, but they also look at your website as a whole. This is why sites like About.com and Wikipedia rank for millions of terms.

Neil’s blog post predates Penguin. I’m sure he would give different advice now.

He’s correct of course – getting more links to internal pages will probably increase homepage rankings…

…but the opposite is true too, despite what is claimed on the Entrepreneur article…

…and if the question is “what will get you penalised?” it’s more dangerous to link to internal pages.

Your homepage will always, always have more links than any internal page, but search engines will almost always return the page most relevant to your search. Links are almost totally irrelevant in this equation.

Watches Google search results

If links to landing pages made a difference then why does Amazon rank with 5 links to the page ahead of brands with hundreds? The number 1 result has 7.

Linking to your homepage is no more likely to cause a penalty than linking to any other page and it’s not something you should worry about.

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