Helping you Play Google’s Rules: Part 3 – Inbound and Outbound Links

Defining  The Two Links

Inbound links are links to your website on other sites. So any external blog post, article, social media post, etc. that has a link to your website or page is considered an inbound link.

Outbound links are links you add to your post or article to other websites or pages that are not on your website.

Inbound Links

Importance of Inbound Links

Inbound links are one of the most important factors in determining your search results ranking for targeted keywords. The more often your web page is linked to, the more credibility your site receives, signaling to Google that your web page is trusted and relevant. The quality of the page the link is on will also factor into your ranking so having a high quality, high authority site link back to your site will significantly increase your ranking.

With this in mind, it all about quality over quantity. You do not want links to your page everywhere because it will be seen as spam and actually lower your ranking. Leaving a link to your blog in the comments of various sites would be an example of spam. However, leaving a meaningful comment with a link to your blog that is relevant to the content on the page is a quality link.

A Quality Inbound Link

A high quality inbound link should include a number of specific characteristics. One is the use of anchor text (or the display text). Using the URL instead of anchor text provides less value and will not actually improve your ranking. Another important characteristic is where on your website the link takes you is also important. A link to specific article or post is considered better quality than to your site’s homepage.

Building up Inbound Links

Besides leaving a link in the comments, you do not have much control over who, when, or how often someone links to your website. Hubspot has a great article on 33 Tools for Link Building (I recommend you check it out). Below are 3 topics they cover that are easy to start doing right now.

Maintain a Steady Blog with Great Content

As discussed in Part 2 of this series, creating quality content is crucial to the ranking of your web page and it is also important to receiving inbound links. If your content does not add value, you cannot expect others to link to it. How is your content better than others writing on the same thing?

Link to Other Blogs on your Blog

Follow a give, give, give, take approach. If you focus on giving and helping, people are more willing to give back. Just asking another blogger to link to your blog will more than likely not be successful, unless you’ve helped them or given them something in return.

Install Social Sharing Widgets

Making your web pages easily shareable will help get your content out there to more people which will make it more likely to be linked back to. Having social widgets so people can share your article on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn makes it more likely that someone will share it.

If you require people to sign into WordPress or take additional steps to share your content, it is likely a number of people move on and opt to not share it. If possible, you also want to make sure your social media information is automatically inserted into the tweet and Facebook or LinkedIn post. You should be able to connect your social profiles to your site host (like WordPress) so that your information is automatically associated with any shared post.

Outbound Links

Display Text

When you add a link to your web page, you use display text to make it readable instead of showing the whole URL. What you use for your display text is important and Google takes it into consideration.

Not only does the display text tell the user what the link is about, it tells Google too. Your display text, or anchor text, should be short and concise while also being descriptive. It should also be clear that it is a link  (changing the color and adding an underline is the intuitive formatting).

I have a few links above, let’s look at “33 Tools for Link Building” example:


  • It is a short, descriptive phrase
  • It is clear what the content will about if you click the link
  • The text is a different color and underlined when you hover so you can easily see it’s a link

Be Mindful of who you link to and how

It is important to be aware of who and where you’re linking to because it can harm your reputation. Your credibility on whatever topic your page is on is at stake when you use links. If your using incredible links and sources, it leads the user to believe you don’t know what you’re talking about. Using rich sources and links to valuable content can help build up your credibility, on the other hand.

Your page’s reputation can also be affected by the links you add. When you link to a page, you pass your reputation onto it. There may be a case where you want to include a link but don’t want to pass along your reputation. This could be because you’re warning users of a site or using a site as an example of something not to do.

In these situations, you can a piece of text to your HTML code that holds the link. Adding rel=”nofollow” will prevent your page from passing any reputation along while still providing a link. You place the text within the anchor tag (<a>), as seen here:

nofollow example


For more information on Google’s SEO Guidelines, check out their SEO Starter Guide


How do you build up quality inbound links? Let me know in the comments below.


Featured image from SearchEngineLand

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