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Deep Websites Create Discovery Issues for Users and Search Engines #TBT

Deep Websites Create Discovery Issues for Users and Search Engines TBT daily-golden-nugget-1459-13The navigation of your website can help or hurt how easily people and search engines discover all your content. For this week's #ThrowbackThursday, I'm jumping back to the good topic of deep website linking from January 2011. With websites growing larger and larger every day, the concept explained in that old Nugget is more valid today than it was back then.

Deep Websites

The depth of a website is measured by the number of levels you have in your navigation. Let's consider your home page to be the first level of your website and then every one of your main navigation links brings you to the second level. It's very common for a website to have 4 levels now.

Here's an illustration of 3 different levels on the site as of the time of this writing:

Deep Websites Create Discovery Issues for Users and Search Engines TBT 1459-linking-levels-18

You can see that the second level is labeled as the "Newsletter landing page." It's common for many of the links on your main navigation to lead to landing pages, or doorway pages, which lead to much deeper content. My example shows a newsletter, but a blog works just the same.

Most pages on a typical jewelry website are reachable within 3 clicks from the home page.

Deep Product Catalogs

Product catalogs often have a main landing page and then many sub levels for each product type, like rings, bracelets, specific designers, etc. Without realizing it, many product catalogs might be 5 or 6 levels deep. Here's an illustrated example:

Home (level 1)
- - - > Main Engagement Rings Catalog Page (level 2)
- - - - - - > Start with a Diamond (level 3)
- - - - - - > Engagement Ring Collections (level 3)
- - - - - - > Preset Engagement Rings (level 3)
- - - - - - - - - - > Classic Styles (level 4)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - > 1ct Classic Halo Engagement Ring (level 5)

Here you see that it took 4 clicks to get to the 5th level. I took that example directly from There are other areas of the site that require one or two more clicks before you get to a product. That also doesn't count any additional clicks you might do on Level 3 while browsing through pages of the Engagement Rings area of the catalog.

While this organization makes sense for your website, the challenge for search engines is that they usually do not bother digging deep into a website unless it's a popular site. BlueNile is a popular site, and search engines are probably reading through their deep pages all the time. However, local jewelers do not have very popular sites and they struggle to have all their products and pages found my search engines.

Short Circuit Your Depth

Google will eventually find all the pages and products on your site, but it doesn't happen quickly. Google's job is to spider all the websites it finds and index all the relevant information for the popular websites and the popular pages on those websites. Google will spend more time looking through deep links on popular sites than it will on less popular sites. They probably dig through 20 levels on news sites like but would hesitate to look more than 3 levels deep on yours.

Like I said, Google will eventually work their way through all the levels of your website, but you can speed the process up by adding a few deep links around your website. A deep link is simply a hyperlink to one of those pages that's 5 or more clicks away from the home page, except that you put that hyperlink on your home page. Suddenly, you've short circuited your clicks and led people right from your home page to a deep page within your website.

Many websites use large hero images or designer logos on their home page. Each of those images is perfect to link to one of the deep product catalog pages of your site. Not only will this help Google find hidden areas of your catalog, but it also helps bring customers closer to your catalog, which, honestly, is more important than Google anyway. Knowing how this works give you a good reason to swap out those home page hero images on a regular basis too.


Websites are getting deeper and deeper as more new content is created. Content is great, but you also have to create fast ways for people to find that deep content, which you can do easily by linking to it from your home page.

AT: 02/25/2016 12:27:35 PM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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