Google uses a number of algorithms to determine how to rank a page within search results. Google’s first algorithm was PageRank, which used the number and quality of links to determine the importance of a website. Marketers quickly started to realize they could improve their rank within search results by building as many links to their website as possible–even if the links were paid for or placed on low quality websites.
To prevent this problem, Google introduced the Penguin algorithm, which can tell the difference between a natural and artificial link. Websites with natural links are rewarded, whereas websites with artificial links are penalized. Since this algorithm was first introduced, a number of marketing companies have declared that links are no longer an important part of an effective SEO strategy. But, this is far from the truth. Links are just as important as ever before–that is, if you know how to use them.
Inbound vs. Outbound vs. Internal Links
Before learning how links can improve SEO, it’s important to understand the three different types of links. Internal links are hyperlinks that direct the user to other pages on your website. Placing a link to your “About Us” page on your homepage would be an example of an internal link.
Outbound links are also placed on your website, however they direct users to other websites not associated with your domain name. Inbound links are the third and final type of link. Inbound links are links to your website that appear on other websites. For instance, let’s say The Huffington Post includes a link to the CNN website within one of their articles. This would be an outbound link for The Huffington Post and an inbound link for CNN.
How to Improve SEO With Inbound Links
Google assumes that another website would not link to your website unless they considered your content valuable. Basically, Google treats nearly every inbound link like a vote for your website’s authority. Because of this, inbound links have the greatest impact on your SEO, but unfortunately, they are also the hardest to obtain.
There are several effective ways to build inbound links and improve your SEO. First, reach out to bloggers in your industry and ask if they accept guest blogs. If so, then create an informative and unique guest blog that naturally incorporates a link to your website within the text. Although it can be time-consuming to identify relevant bloggers and create content, this is a great way to build inbound links.
You should also look for opportunities to list your business in professional directories. For instance, if you are a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, make sure a link to your website is listed on the member page. As long as you choose relevant directories on trustworthy websites, these inbound links will improve your SEO.
How to Improve SEO With Outbound Links
Outbound links are typically used to give credit to sources of information. For example, if you include statistics to support your argument within a blog, you should link to the website where you found the data. Google pays close attention to outbound links. If you link to credible and high quality websites, Google will assume the content on your website is credible and high quality as well.
Google will not penalize you for including high quality outbound links on your website. However, if Google believes you are being paid to post outbound links on your website, you will be penalized. You can also be penalized for linking to low quality, spammy websites. When you make either of these mistakes, your SEO could actually suffer as a result of using outbound links.
To avoid this mistake, be sure to carefully review every outbound link posted on your website. If the website does not seem credible, it’s best not to post a link to it on your website.
How to Improve SEO With Internal Links
Every time someone performs a search, Google attempts to create a list of websites that will provide the user with the best experience possible. To determine if a website is user-friendly or not, Google will consider many different factors, including the internal linking structure. For this reason, internal links can play an important role in your SEO strategy.
There are several rules to follow when placing internal links on your website. First, it’s best to avoid linking to top level pages on your website. If a page can be accessed via the navigation menu, you do not need to link to it repeatedly on other pages. The second rule is no page on your website should be more than three clicks away from the homepage. This means you should be able to navigate to any page on your website by starting on your homepage and clicking on three (or fewer) internal links.
The third and final rule is to remember the user as you are placing internal links on your website. Put yourself in the user’s shoes when determining which links should be placed on each page. For example, let’s say a website visitor is reading a blog on the importance of using the right keywords. This visitor would probably also be interested in reading a blog on how to use the Google Keyword planner. Therefore, it would be appropriate to link to a blog on this topic that is posted on your website. With this approach, you can ensure your internal links are creating a positive user experience, which will improve your SEO.
Are you ready to build inbound, outbound, and internal links? If so, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Let us plan and implement an effective link-building strategy to improve your SEO.