From: Al Dugan

Can't wait for today's issue of High Rankings, I always look forward to reading each and every issue entirely.

My question is about link popularity. You probably get similar questions a lot, and I think I remember something in an issue not too far back, but I am still a little confused. My home page is optimized for personalized gifts with other pages optimized for other terms such as military gifts. For military gifts I have done pretty well in Google (page 1) because it's not as competitive a keyword as personalized gifts. I achieved this ranking without any other web sites linking to the military gifts page directly. However, this month I dropped down to page 3 in Google.

So far my links campaign has been solely focused on the home page for the term personalized gifts. I would like to continuously rank high for military gifts, however. Would it be in my best interest to continue with this approach or would I see more benefits by trying to get some links directly to the military gifts page?

Thank you for your help and keep up the great work.

Al Dugan


~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Al,

Glad you look forward to the newsletter! You sent your question at the perfect time when I was looking for just the "right one" to answer.

When I first read your question, I was thinking that I was gonna have to give my lecture on making sure that you're optimizing for keyword phrases people are actually searching for. I was thinking that "military gifts" just didn't sound like a very popular search phrase. However, a quick search at WordTracker showed that it is indeed a good search phrase, so kudos to you for choosing a decent one! You'd be surprised how many SEO company sites I see out there whose claim to fame is optimizing for keywords nobody searches for. It would be understandable for a personalized gift site's owner to do something like that, but when an SEO company does it, it really gets my goat. You can be proud of yourself for not falling into that trap!

Anyway...your main question is whether you should request links to your inner "military gifts" page in order to increase its link popularity and Google PageRank. Yes, you could certainly do that if you wanted to; however, I don't feel it is necessary. The cool thing about PageRank is that whatever PageRank you get on your home page from outside links and the site's own internal linking structure is passed along to your inner pages.

Therefore, the high-quality links that are pointing to your main page will *also* help the PageRank of your military gifts page! It's true that the inner page probably won't get quite as much PageRank as your home page, but that's okay; it will get enough. Make sure that your main page (and all of the major pages) of your site all have a link to the military gifts page, to ensure that it gets its proper share of the wealth.

To illustrate how this is important to PageRank, I once added a new top-level page to my site and linked to it in my top DHTML menu. I forgot to add a link to it in the text links at the bottom of my pages, or in the noscript tag of my DHTML JavaScript code. Months later I noticed that the particular page in question had a lower PageRank than the other top-level pages of my site. Once I discovered my linking error and fixed it, sure enough, in the next Google update, that page had the same PageRank as the others.

[It's important to note that I really don't pay much attention to my pages' PageRank and I don't see much correlation between the Google Toolbar PageRank number and rankings in the search engines for keyword phrases (except for extremely competitive keywords). I am much more focused on ensuring that my on-the-page SEO factors are as good as they can be. I just happened to notice that page's lower PageRank, and found it interesting to investigate. I maintain that PageRank is not something to try to manipulate, but something that comes out of having a great site worth linking to.]

Regarding your link building campaign, you don't need to go out and start an entire linking campaign around that one military gifts page. Having most links point to your home page is perfectly fine and works very well to build your PageRank. That said, if there are specific military sites where it would make more sense to have them link to your military gifts page rather than your home page, then that's fine too. You may very well find lots of site owners who would be happy to link to that particular page, even though they may not have been a good fit with your home page. In fact, with all the scary war stuff going on around us right now, there are probably a whole lot of patriotic sites that might be interested in your military gifts page!
March 28, 2003

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ,, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

Search Engine Guide > Jill Whalen > Should One Request Links to Inner Pages?