Search engine bots are constantly crawling the web and going through the links on your website to determine its relevance and popularity.
Understanding inbound and outbound links is critical for SEO because the search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing rank your website based on the user experience (internal links) and the number of backlinks you have (external links).
But what are inbound and outbound links? And how do they actually contribute to your search engine ranking? Let us explain . . .
Internal links are just what they sound like — links that connect to other pages on your own website. They are often used in the footer when displaying a site map. They can also be sprinkled throughout different pages for easy reference and to help users navigate seamlessly.
Most importantly, internal links keep users on YOUR website.
There are two types of external links.
The first type are those that take users from your website to another site. For example, if you’re referencing an article or another web page that you want your readers to visit, then that would be considered an external or outbound link.
The second type of external links are called backlinks. Backlinks bring readers back to your website from other sources. These are the types of external links that really count in the search engine algorithms. And for the rest of this article, these are the external links we will be referring to.
What Do Internal And External Links Do For My SEO?
Using both internal and external links is important for improving your search engine ranking.
Internal links are important because they help make the user experience more appealing — which is an important part of the search engine algorithm.
External links tell the search engines how popular your website is. You can think of each external link as a “vote” that someone is giving your site. So the more votes, or external links, that your site has — the more popular and relevant it is in the eyes of the search engines.
Quality And Quantity
For those of you who have been around for a few years, you may remember the Google Penguin update in April 2012.
Essentially what had happened prior to this update was that website owners were trying to hack the search engine algorithm by creating a bunch of fake sites to build backlinks to their main website.
When the search engines discovered what was happening, they created a new algorithm that could detect the quality of the backlinks to a website.
It’s no longer just the quantity of external links pointing to your website. The quality also matters. Each “vote” needs to come from a reputable source, such as a well-established website that has a good search engine result pages (SERP) ranking itself.
Think Organic, Think Long Term
Building anything of value takes time. And establishing high-quality, long term external links to your website is no different.
The best way to create external links to your website is to organically build real links from other credible websites.
Often that’s done through a value exchange by finding other websites where you can contribute valuable content and in turn, they will let you place a backlink to your site.
The days of trying to outsmart the algorithms are over. The best-case scenario is that it will just waste your time. The worst is that it could actually cause fatal damage to your search engine ranking.
But if you’re willing to put in the work and build value-packed relationships and external links with authoritative sites, then you’re on the right track.
If you’re not sure where to get started, we’re always here to help.
Schedule a free consultation here with our team today to learn how we can build internal and external backlinks and help your website get recognized by Google.