Backlinks, Internal Links and External Links?
SERP, XML Sitemaps, Alt. text, PR, TLD, FTP … yada, yada, yada. If you’re new to SEO, you’ll quickly realise there’s a new language to learn. So just what are backlinks, internal links and external links? And why are they important?
Backlinks, Internal Links and External Links
One of the key search engine ranking factors is a website’s “popularity” in cyberspace. Yes, nothing has changed much since high school.
To be cool, you’ve got to hang out with the cool kids.
Having said that, it does make sense. Google correctly views searchers who use its search-engine technology as clients, and they want to profile sites in search results that are well-linked in cyberspace—under the assumption that such sites are the most credible and helpful to the searchers. This is where backlinks, internal links and external links enter the picture.
Consider this diagram of Joe Bloggs’ backlinks, internal links and external links:
While the diagram and notes are relatively self-explanatory, let’s get a little more practical in terms of backlinks, internal links and external links.
Make sure that your “Home” page links to all your secondary static pages and to your blog. And make sure all your secondary pages and your blog posts link back to the “Home” page. This prioritises your “Home” page as the landing page.
You could also link your information pages—”About,” “Pricing,” “Contact,” etc.—to your main secondary page profiling your core product or service to show this page’s importance. In the example above, these information pages are linked to Joe Bloggs’ “Gadgets” page. When relevant, link your blog posts back to your main secondary pages, too.
Here’s what Google had to say on the matter of internal links:
The number of internal links pointing to a page is a signal to search engines about the relative importance of that page. If an important page does not appear in this list, or if a less important page has a relatively large number of internal links, you should consider reviewing your internal link structure.”
Also called outbound links, these are others sites in cyberspace that you link to—that is, sites you give a “vote” of favour to. Why would you do this? To show the love. And … to validate your content credibility by linking to an authoritative source, or to demonstrate your business integrity by linking to your product supplier, for example. For your “Home” page and main pages, consider at the most two outbound links; on your blog posts, consider two to four outbound link per 1,000 words.
Google’s Matt Cutts had this to say about external links:
In the same way that Google trusts sites less when they link to spammy sites or bad neighborhoods, parts of our system encourage links to good sites.”
Also called inbound links, these are sites in cyberspace that link to you—that is, sites that give you a “vote” of favour. Backlinks are the most important of the bunch in terms of ranking well in search results and determines a website’s PageRank.
Here’s Matt Cutts on the subject of backlinks:
The philosophy that we’ve always had is if you make something that’s compelling then it would be much easier to get people to write about it and to link to it … Make a fantastic website that people love and tell their friends about and link to and want to experience. As a result, your website starts to become stronger and stronger in the rankings … Links are still the best way that we’ve found to discover [a site’s popularity]…”
While developing a robust backlink portfolio is crucial to ranking well, getting a handle on all three types of links is important for a healthy website.