Links are a crucial part of Google’s RankBrain Algorithm recognizing your site. In fact, many SEO professionals consider Natural Links to be the most heavily weighted variable in Google’s analysis. Google uses internal links to evaluate how easily navigated your site is, while external links count as “votes” for your site from other webpages. Outside of the SEO perspective, links serve to offer users a better browsing experience. Let’s take a closer look at both types of links, and see how they can get your page ranked higher.

Internal Links

Internal Links help users get from one page to the next within your site. An example of an internal link would be the tab that takes a user from your home page to one specifically about one of your products. Google prefers sites with shallow internal links. For example, if I want to buy a pair of shoes from your site and it takes me four or five page redirections to buy them, Google will consider that too many links. Ideally, all content on your webpage should be within two or three links from your main page.

External Links

External, outbound, and inbound links are all terms referring to the same type of link. These links are ones that refer the user to a completely different web page. For example, the link below to Ahrefs is an external link from my site to theirs. If they were to link back to this blog, that would be an inbound link. Let’s consider why Google analyzes external links. Imagine there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, of reputable sites that referred their users to this blog. At that point it would be easy for Google to recognize the multitude of links as a good indicator that my site is offering users helpful content. Remember, Google’s primary goal is to connect users with the best info from the best sites.

SEO links sound easy enough then, right? As SEO has become a more in depth field, Google has recognized some of the tricks that sites were using to establish back link presence. For example, paid links are very easily considered “spammy” in Google’s eyes. Likewise, a portfolio of backlinks that is not diverse enough would be considered a red flag. Best practice when establishing your link portfolio is to strive for natural links to reputable sites. Profile links can be a great way to get link volume, although they are not usually from sites that are as authoritative.

Best SEO Link Building

Now let’s dive into what steps you can take to optimize your external links for SEO. A good place to start is finding what links you already have established, if any, and how your competitors shape up. There are great tools available to use, one of the most popular being Ahrefs. Use this tool to analyze which reputable sites your competitors are backlinking to, and which sites they may not be linked to yet. Once you have found your effective links, make sure you are utilizing the anchor text well. Anchor text is the text describing what you are linking to, and is analyzed by Google in depth. If you have relevant anchor text, with effective keywords, Google will recognize this and reward your page for it.

Once you have optimized each one of your current links, it is time to pursue new links.If your site doesn’t have much content with linking opportunities, consider implementing a blog or discussion page. Make sure that your content is linking to noteworthy pages when appropriate. When you create an effective external link to a site, it’s helpful to follow up with that company and request a link back. Good linking practices are in everyone’s best interest.

Using the link analysis tool of your choice, see if you can identify authoritative pages that are not currently being linked by your competition. Having noteworthy pages linking only to you will give you a ranking advantage. In a perfect world, you want links from the good pages that are linking to your competitors, and then links that are unique to your page. Google is not interested in ranking duplicated content, so make sure you stand out.


Written by: Dallas Miller