Tim Berners-Lee first saw the possibility of using hyperlinks to link information to other information over the Internet- hence the birth of the World-Wide-Web.
Today search engines interpret these links as a vote of confidence for the webpage and domain in receipt. When a website links to yours, search engines assume that the Webmaster of the host website/domain deems your webpage credible for further explanation of a subject or topic of reference.
So… if your site has great content on a topic and people love it, your site will generate more votes, gain more credibility and, if you’ve got everything else right, should appear towards the front-end of the search engines results page (SERPs) for related search terms- the holy grail for us SEOs!
Naturally, search engines build a picture of the web (the index) as the few gazillion webpages- actually roughly 40 billion- are crawled by invisible robots and then indexed so that the engine can deliver sorted results in a SERPs which are more specific and relevant to the user’s search query. A logical solution perhaps… yes genius’s work on this stuff!
What’s clever about search engines (and I keep wanting to say Google) is that they favour what someone else say’s about you rather than what you are saying about yourself and, hence, external backlinks (incoming) to your site are always going to carry more SEO weight than internal self-referral links (internal) on your webpages.
Having said that, neither should be ignored nor should one be preferential to the other. They should occur together with outbound links in a holistic SEO link building strategy and site structure.
If you didn’t catch that, there are actually 3 types of link you should consider for your SEO strategy:
1) Internal Links
2) External Inbound (Backlinks) Links
3) External Outbound Links
What is an Internal Link?
Is a self-referral hyperlink on a webpage to another section of the same webpage or another page on the host’s website or domain. It can be used as a reference to relevant content or navigational element on a webpage.
<a href=”http://www.example-same-domain.com/” title=”topical link anchor text”>Topical Link Anchor Text</a>
How do Internal Links help SEO?
Internal links should by far make up the majority of links on your total link profile. Search engine robots or spiders can cleverly work out, based on styles and patterns of links, which are the most important pages to be indexed. Having an abundance of internal linking on your site helps establish an information hierarchy and helps spread link juice (in English- ranking power!) around your website.
External Inbound Links (Backlinks)
What is an External Inbound Link?
Is a hyperlink on an external websites webpage (source) that refers to the webpage (target) of the host’s website.
<a href=”http://www.example-host-domain.com/” title=”topical link anchor text”>Topical Link Anchor Text</a>
How do External Inbound Links help SEO?
According to most top SEO resources, these external inbound links (or backlinks) are by far the most important links for your website. These are the links whereby search engines recognize you as a valid source of information on a topic. The more inbound links you have from other reputable websites and webpages the more ranking power you are likely to accumulate. Most SEO’s try to earn links from topic relevant content on authoritative webpages from authoritative domains in their specific Internet community.
External/Internal Outbound Links
What is an External/Internal Outbound Link?
A hyperlink on the host’s website/webpage (source) that refers to the webpage (target) of an external site.
<a href=”http://www.example-external-domain.com/” title=”topical link anchor text”>Topical Link Anchor Text</a>
How do External/Internal Outbound Links help SEO?
By linking to sites that are on topic and are reputable you are helping create a relevant and reputable web that not only helps your site but also those sites you are linking to. For SEOs it is important to focus on the relevance and quality (good domain authority and page authority) of these links and using the rel=”nofollow” attribute when necessary.