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Inbound vs Outbound Links (Internal vs External Links): SEO for Beginners Tutorial

Hey this is Sasha and today I want to share with you the difference between inbound links and outbound links. Or in other words, internal links or external links.

Links and SEO

Understanding these types of links is important for search engine optimization or SEO, when you look at links, the reason it’s important it’s because Google, yahoo and many other search engines like Bing rank you based on the number of links that you have and they typically crawl websites through the links.

For example, if you have a navigation structure or navigation menu on your website, what they do is they go to every single link within that website and scan that page for Links, whether they’re linking to your own pages within your website, or to external pages which are on another domain, on another website.

And while they do this, they do a calculation to see how many inbound links you have, and how many outbound links you have, therefore calculating a formula to the page relevancy, as long as your link popularity, your page rank and just how popular your website is.

Internal vs. External links

Let’s take a look at a diagram and let me explain to you the difference between these two types of links as well as some caveats and things to watch out for.

If we take a look at internal links versus external links, or in other words, inbound links versus outbound links, very similar, same kind of concept. When you look at an internal link, it’s basically a link on your website that links to another page on your website, so it’s internal.

Let’s say this box represented our whole website, and then you had pages, this was one page, this was another page, this was another page, and you had link on one of these pages pointing to another part of your website, for example maybe this page pointed to this website, this page pointed to that page, and then this page also pointed to this page, these are basically internal links in your website, it’s all within that space.

You can have many pages, it could even be documents, it could be images, but it’s an internal web, so everything here is working internally pointing to other pages, linking back and forth between your navigation structures, your footer and so on and so forth.

External links are a little bit different. Say this, for example, is your website, but then you also have other websites out there, so you have site number one, over here, then you have another website over here, so this is another website, this over here could be a third website, and they all have pages.

As they all have their own pages, when you look at external links, all you’re really talking about is that a page from your website is linking to something external.

When we’re referencing your website it’s all about the external outbound links. At least this is what most people care about, they really care about, if from site number one somebody is linking to that page, if from site number two they’re linking into your page and so on and so forth.

That’s what they’re really concerned about, but it’s from other websites, there could be a ton of other websites, ad this overall, the big picture is the World Wide Web.

Both types of links are important

That’s ultimately what you’re really discussing or talking about, and the main point or purpose behind this is that when you’re looking to make things easier for search engines, it’s good to have internal links like this, linking within your website because that makes your pages and your content a lot easier to find.

What creates and builds your popularity are the external links. As we look at external links, this is what creates your popularity, if you have sites coming in from yahoo, from Bing or other very popular websites and they’re pointing to your website, that means your website is probably very relevant, especially if you have let’s say 10 thousand websites linking you, versus just 500 websites linking to you. The more websites in theory, the better it is.

Problems with links over the years

There were a few caveats back in the day when it came to this practice, because if you really look down into the situation and how things are being ranked and you understand that, if I’m being ranked from all these different websites, and the more sites that link into my site helps bump my ranking higher, if that’s the ultimate goal, I have links from site number one, two and three, if this all helps my rankings, why don’t I just personally build out a bunch of dummy sites or templates and just create a bunch of links to my website? And just link them all together, kind of link creating an internal network.

The search engines eventually discovered this is what was happening, this is also known as link farming or building out spamming links, and now they’re able to detect and pick these things up much more easily with their algorithm.

It’s always better to get organic links

It’s much better practice to really hone in on organic or proper links where you really get good mentions or credibility from really known websites and slowly build out your website.

They also take into account how long that link has been there. The longer a certain link has been there, the better it is, how old is that website, all those things play a factor, they do calculations and a big algorithm that really starts looking into these things, so you can’t really avoid it.

In general what you’re trying to do is maximize the amount of links that you’re getting into your website and also linking within your website very well, so that way search engines and robots can easily find the pages of your website.

One of the other things that used to happen was, of course, there is competition, and as people compete for placement, what used to happen is actually they would set up these link farms once link farming became taboo, the would set up these link farms and link it to the competitors site, or your competition.

This ultimately created some more confusion, so when you look into this and you say: I could just create or write a bunch of reviews on people’s books, on products, if there is a competitor, you could easily in a bad way hurt your competition.

Search engines are always evolving

And that’s what started to happen, but Google then changed these algorithms again to kind of combat this problem, now they don’t really penalize you for this, there used to be a penalty for this, but now they just don’t really add any value to you.

It’s important to understand that search engines, they continue to evolve and get better with time, so if you’re constantly doing good practices, building out your links, the external links that are coming into your website and also the internal links that are within your website, linking into all the different pages, it creates a nice web, it makes things easier for them. That’s what you want to do when you’re building out your links.

Link building is not easy

The link building process is not that easy, it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of effort to build out links, there used to be a time when people exchanged links, I’ll link to you if you link to me and again, those used to be a one to one link.

Then over time there was a two for one, I’ll give you two links for one link, because linking just is difficult, nobody wants to continue to send links to other websites, because they’re redirecting traffic away from them, so people made incentives or transactions in those sort of ways to where I’ll contribute to you if you contribute to me.

Building links is a difficult process, and it’s just all about finding the value that you can give another website. Sometimes it’s about writing blog posts for other articles, for other websites, so that way you can get your author name at the bottom, or maybe a link at the bottom, whereas you’ve contributed a piece of content to them.

All these things simply take time and a lot of work and effort, but the more links that you have coming into your website, in theory, the better it is and the better it is for your search engine optimization, or for your search engine rankings.

And also the more links that you have internal, the more content pages that are linked out really well, linking to one another page, also is very beneficial, because now the spiders can hop from one page to the other page.

Don’t try to rig the system

It’s all just really about building more links, creating a good experience for the end user, and not trying to rig the system or take advantage of it. Because eventually the robots and the spiders will catch up to you, the algorithms will catch up, and that’s why so many people get penalized during Search engine updates when they do major algorithmic updates, they take certain criteria and adjust it and change it because there’s manipulation that happens.

For example, if you put on white text on a white background and try to stuff keywords on the page, trying to put those keywords, that’s not an ethical way of trying to get rankings.

Yes, you can do it back in the 90s it was a lot easier and more possible to do that and get rankings really well, there was also a lot less websites, but nowadays they’ve become more advanced, the search engines are a lot more advanced in the way of finding and figuring out that the techniques you’re using is really to manipulate the search engines and not really looking out for the good of the user.

I summary, strive to create a good user experience, build high-quality links that go into your website, build those external links that are coming in and pointing to your website, and sometimes you have to do the additional work, whether that’s writing an article, doing another form of promotion, creating a win/win relationship, so that way you’re creating a good network and building constant links to your website to help it rank higher in the search engines.

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