The three types of vital links that are cornerstones to every SEO strategy are internal links, external links and inbound links.
- Internal links are the ones created in your content leading to other pages on your site, helping Google and users navigate a website and access its content.
- External links are the ones you create in your content that lead to other pages outside your domain, giving credibility to your content and gain visibility among audiences and search engines.
- Inbound links are the ones created by other content creators that lead readers to your site, thus boost search rankings/drive referral traffic.
While formulating SEO strategy, the faux pass is to focus on earning inbound links. However, a robust SEO strategy entails considering all three link types seamlessly to serve needs and preferences of both users and Google. Marketers must follow the best practices to get the most significant return on SEO efforts.
Best Practices for Internal and External Links
The easiest place to start with a linking strategy is on your own site. On-site internal and external linking practices are essential for SEO:
- Internal links assist Google with sneaking in and discover content. While giving Google Search Console your sitemap is considered an SEO best practice, there is still no full proof method that Google indexes every sitemap. Yet what Google algorithm does is follow your links within your content and possibly index the linked-to content.
- Internal links are helpful in establishing credibility of your content to Google. The overall layout of website’s navigational structure is important for SEO, the homepage being the most critical part. Pages on the next levels, those linked from the homepage or on main menu are also vital. The content beyond the third level is considered too deep within the site hierarchy, garnering less importance.
- Internal links can enhance engagement indicators like bounce rate, time-on-page, and time-on-site signaling how good is an individual content—as well as the overall site—pleases the visitor or not. Linking content to other related, on-site resources, it’s possible to keep users on-site longer, improving engagement metrics and boosting SEO.
- External links suggest Google that content was given after good research. Citing sources is important to develop credibility. Linking out to superior and authoritative sites shows that you have a strong basis to your assertions.
Although these are best practices for linking, there are some jitters also around them because while giving an external link, you tend to also pass on the authority. The condition is the links should lead to credible sites and content which is quite natural to allow some authority to pass to other sites.
Best Practices for On-site linking strategy
- Design your content and website navigation structure for your visitors not for Google. The content should be relatable and easy to access from the site.
- Develop crosslink internally while developing new content, look for opportunities to link to related content that explains the idea, and link to it when necessary.
- Avoid over-doing and follow the golden rule of linking internally and externally only when the link has a specific purpose and is relevant to the discussion.
- Natural anchor texts are the way to go, unlike early days of SEO wherein the goal was to have links with keyword-rich anchor text. Google has become smarter and easily eliminates the manipulation links.
- Don’t sell links instead sell adverts since publishers need an income source—add ‘nofollow’ tags to links. Sell links to boost another site’s SEO could result in penalty by Google.
- Publish guest posts cautiously. Although it is a great way to increase content value and boost traffic but allow only the guest posts with relevance and of high-quality content that’s applicable and helpful to your audience, while your guests also practice your linking best practices.
These best practices also apply when earning inbound links.
Best Practices for Building Inbound Links
There is a lot of negativity around link building, valid to some extent since earlier link building in SEO strategy entailed purchasing links, leading to link-filled blog comments with little-to-no value, and trading links with other bloggers despite being completely unrelated.
While they do exist even today, they have lost the effect and engagement quotient – mainly because these practices earn a manual penalty from Google.
Black-hat link building maneuvers has resulted in adoption of a new tactic: link earning. Unlike the other, link earning involves earning inbound links through high-quality content that people genuinely link to and nurture relationships with other industry-relevant publishers and influencers.
Some types of content earn more links since they are either data driven, news content, influencer focused, have infographics or evergreen guides.
No matter what approach you adopt, earning links requires in-depth, accurate, original, and quality content. Again, quality content even if earns links that wouldn’t suffice.
Earning links requires special tactic of outreach and online PR. If your users are not aware that there exists a wonderful content, they can’t link to it. It is crucial to every piece of content you develop on your site. Writers, editors and publishers are informed through outreach and online PR about an amazing content. Social media can be used to outreach vast audience.
Request for adding a link if your brand, name, or product is mentioned on another site without linking it to your site. In addition, use Google’s image search tool to find sites that are using your images without giving the due credit.
Building SEO Links strategy
Without a high-quality inbound link profile, it is highly impossible that your content will ever rank higher. If you fail to link to external sites in content, other sites would not prefer to link to you. Lastly, site without strategic cross-linking will fail to keep users on site for long through a single piece of content.
As these strategies become second-nature, embrace more. With time, you will discover that incoming links and average time on site values are increasing besides your organic rankings.