As part of a broader SEO strategy, setting yourself up with a whole bunch of inbound links can be a real game-changer. Just as long as they are featured on relevant sites of sufficient quality, they can give your SEO campaign serious clout.
But what is important to remember is how even when links are placed on authority sources, not all backlinks carry the same value; precisely where the debate regarding ‘shallow’ backlinks comes into play, along with their questionable SEO value.
What Are Shallow Links?
A shallow link is a link that should point to a specific page on your website like a product page, but actually sends traffic straight to your home page.
Historically, building plenty of shallow links has been the intention of many a business and SEO services. After all, it makes sense to divert as much traffic as possible to your primary online store front.
Sadly not, or at the very least this is not how Google sees it.
The problem with shallow links lies in the fact that they do not point to anything specific. Think about it, you are searching online for winter shoes for a toddler, and Google returns a bunch of links. You click a high-ranking result, and you rightly expect to be taken to the appropriate part of the seller’s website, either a specific product page, or the kids’ winter shoes category page.
Instead, you are sent to the site’s home page, and you have to go through the process of tracking down the category and product pages yourself. Given how Google’s job is to make it as quick and easy as possible for people to find exactly what they need, this does not bode well with anyone.
Shallow links are viewed by most people and search engines alike as devoid of any real value.
Are Shallow Links Harmful to SEO?
There is no indication whatsoever that Google actively seeks to punish those who build shallow backlinks; technically there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with them in the traditional sense, they could indeed be hosted on sites of genuine authority.
But in terms of SEO value, shallow links have none whatsoever; aside from the potential to drive a small amount of organic traffic your way from the source of the link.
Shallow links are therefore best avoided for the simple fact that they are largely a waste of time. If you are going to get a link to your website posted somewhere respectable, it may as well point to a deeper page.
If you are aware of any backlinks doing the rounds online that are directing traffic to your home page, you may want to think about editing them. Unless of course, your home page is also a specific product or service page, in which case they are probably just fine.