The other day I had a client ask me if he should be placing more focus on SEO for the home page or if he should focus more on internal pages and which would offer him the best results. I thought this was a very good question so I decided to answer it here so others with the same question would benefit.
When you are planning out your website, the main keyword should be the focus of your home page. This is typically the keyword that is the hardest to rank for and covers a broader section of your niche market. This also means that it is going to take more SEO work to get the page to rank well in the search engines.
Your internal pages usually target more specific long-tail keywords within your niche market that are easier to rank for. They are like supporting actors in a movie and your home page is the star. The general consensus is that the more you boost those supporting pages, the more likely the home page will be considered an authority site.
Without doing SEO for your deeper pages, your home page will look like a one-trick pony to the search engines. The importance of the internal pages is what sells the homepage. The links pointing to those inside pages are seen as votes for the page. The more votes, the higher the perceived importance of the information. It indicates that your site does indeed contain a considerable amount of relevant and useful content and that the site has real value within your market. The more you SEO the internal pages, the more import the homepage becomes to search engines.
That being said, when you are doing your SEO and link building to internal pages, it is very important to use your long-tail keywords as anchor text. This will help each individual page get recognized by the search engines for the information contained within that page.
So to answer the question of whether doing SEO for the homepage or for the internal pages is best, the answer is both but with considerable attention being given to each internal page as a means to force your main page up the rankings. You can’t achieve the results you are looking for if you only focus on either/or. SEO is always all about the whole package.