Pelland Blog

Your Website and the Importance of Inbound & Outbound Links

November 24th, 2008

One of the most effective ways to improve your website’s organic search engine position is to increase the quantity and quality of both inbound and outbound links to established, highly rated sites. As an added benefit, any inbound links are going to directly increase the amount of traffic from the referring sites which provide the links. Too many people obsess over the concept of “reciprocal links”, and this is unfortunate. Whether or not another site provides a reciprocal link is not nearly as important as the links themselves, even if they are one-way links. Let us take a separate look at inbound and outbound links.

Outbound links from your site to another site should provide your visitors with sources of additional information that relates to your business or your site’s content. Let’s say that you own a business that sells small kitchen appliances, it would be a good idea to provide links to the manufacturers that you represent, independent product reviews, and general consumer information on the various appliances. By doing so, you are enhancing the usefulness of your site to its visitors (and lessening the likelihood that they might choose to turn elsewhere … perhaps a competitor … for that same information). Simply by association with these sites, your site’s own search engine ranking will improve.

There are a few guidelines when setting up outbound links:
1) Setup the links to open in new tabs or browser windows so that your visitors do not lose track of their point of origin.
2) When choosing outbound links, try to find sites that are, in themselves, highly search rated. A good reference is a site’s “PageRank”, as indicated by the Google Toolbar that you should have installed on your browser. (It’s free!) Try to choose businesses that have a PageRank that is as high or higher than your own.
3) Links that are anchored to text (such as my Google Toolbar link, above) are more valuable than links that are anchored to graphics. If possible, use the two in conjunction.
4) Links that relate to the content that appears on the linking page is more valuable than more general links.
5) Do not include more than a maximum of 50 outbound links on a page.

Inbound links from other sites to yours are even more important. Most of the same guidelines still apply. Every link counts when determining your search engine ranking, as long as it appears on a recognized page of a highly rated site. What you don’t want (but probably cannot prevent) are incoming links from so-called “link farms” which are trying to build their own search engine ranking by capitalizing upon their outbound links to your sites and hundreds of others, typically with totally unrelated content. Obtaining inbound links from the same websites to which you are supplying outbound links should be one of your top priorities, particularly if their websites are more highly rated than your own. The appliance manufacturers, for example, may have links to “where to buy our products”. Try to insure that your business is not only listed but that there is a link to your website. Inbound links from any directories that relate to your business should be your next priority. Don’t forget to include blogs, and even appropriate MySpace and Facebook pages. Whatever effort you put into link creation today will pay dividends tomorrow. In difficult economic times, I can’t think of a better way of helping to insure your continuing success.

This post was written by Peter Pelland