Deep Linking Draws Visitors

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2002-11-18 Print this article Print

Is it smart to promote a feature that keeps visitors from a site?

Recently I met with representatives from a software vendor, and while they were showing their product, they mentioned how a specific feature could be used to prevent "deep linking." As they finished, I thought to myself, Is it really smart to promote a feature that keeps visitors from coming to a site?

And make no mistake, that is the main issue behind fights over deep linking, which is when a link goes directly to a page within a site rather than to the home page. The fact that content-oriented Web sites that are trying to sell advertising, and thus want as many visitors as possible, fight against deep linking is one of the dumbest things Ive ever heard.

During these fights, the arguments usually boil down to: Deep linking is good because its what makes the Internet great, and Deep linking is bad because people bypass the supposedly more valuable home page. In reality, it boils down to this: Do you want visitors to your site or not?

Here is how it works. A Web site deep-links to a page in your site. A visitor to that site, one who never goes to your site, sees the link and follows it to the content on your site. At worst, the visitor just reads the page and leaves, with you getting only the hit from that visit. But perhaps the person sees other content he or she likes, follows it and even goes to your valuable home page, possibly even becoming a regular visitor to your site. Without deep linking, that first site doesnt link to any content in your site because it is difficult to find content just from the home page. The visitor never visits your site and you get no additional traffic.

Thats basically the whole argument. If you allow deep linking, you at worst get some traffic and potentially add a lot of traffic. If you dont, you get no additional traffic.

And you cant sell ads without visitors.

Are content sites that fight deep linking cutting their own throats? Let me know at

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr Rapoza's current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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