If you’ve heard that links are important for search engine optimization, you’ve heard right. And while many things change in SEO, this one isn’t going anywhere. Links are important, both ones that are in your site and ones that are on other sites and lead back to your site. So I wanted to take a few minutes to help you understand how links help and how to format your links properly so they work right for you.
Basically, there are three kinds of links I want to talk about today. Internal links, outbound links, and backlinks. It’s important that you know what all three are and how to use them, because they are all important for SEO, although each is important a different amount.
Internal Link: This link is a type of link on a web page to another page or resource, such as an image or document, on the same website. For example, I might add a link to a blog post from one of my website pages, or maybe on my services page I would link to the individual services. Any link from one page or post in my site to another page, post, or media would be considered an internal link.
How does internal linking help?
Number one, internal links help Google find all your content. It also helps establish a hierarchy for that content. Additionally, if those links are formatted correctly, it helps Google and other search engines understand what that page is about, which helps them establish rank for that content.
Outbound Link: An outbound link is simply a link from one website to content on another website. For example, if I’m writing an article about SEO, I might link to important resources like Moz or SEMRush.
How do outbound links help SEO?
I’ve had many clients tell me to remove outbound links from their site, they don’t want links to other websites because they don’t want their users to leave. And that makes sense on a basic level. But, consider this: outbound links are like a bibliography for your website. They provide support for whatever it is you are writing about. If you are writing content about the best practices of your business, and you link to a few resources that reiterate that the content you are sharing is the best practice, then that adds to your credibility. Outbound links create authority for your website, because you are connecting your content with other content that corroborates or verifies it.
Backlinks: A backlink is a link from another website back to your link. And while all links are helpful for SEO, backlinks, when used correctly, can have the biggest payoff. Why? A link back to your site from another site is going to add to your credibility. It tells the search engines, hey, this website has good info and I trust it. When it comes to SEO, it’s all about trust factors and backlinks are a big one.
There was a time when having thousands of backlinks would help no matter where they came from, but now the quality of that link is also important. Having all your friends link to your site from their personal blogs won’t give you the same authority as having a link from an industry leader.
The best backlinks come from places that find your content useful and naturally link to them, so the best way to get them is to create useful, authoritative content that people want to link to.
There are good ways and bad ways to format your links, and this is something that a lot of business owners aren’t aware of. What I end up seeing a lot of is links that look like this.
Click here to check out our web design services.
And sure, that works. You can see where to click, you can click, and it will take you there. But it doesn’t help you with SEO because the words “click here” don’t describe the link. Your anchor text (text that is linked) should describe what someone will find when they click on the link. That’s a signal to the search engines about what kind of content they will find on the page. A better link would look like this.
Check out our web development services.
Because the link’s anchor text describes the content that is on the page, it helps the search engines better understand where that link goes. “Click here” doesn’t describe the content of any page, and since thousands of websites use that as anchor text, it’s not useful when it comes to SEO signals.
This is good practice for internal links, and for backlinks as well. Obviously you can’t control what other people use on their websites when they link to you, but if you see a link that doesn’t have great anchor text and you know the person or company linking to you, asking the to change it isn’t out of line.
Links are important for SEO, so make a point to use them well!