Outbound Links vs. Inbound Links

I’m often asked, which is best? Inbound links or outbound links to my website?

The answer to this question used to be easy. Search engines placed a lot of weight on inbound links. Links pointing at a site acted as a big thumbs up vote of confidence for websites so the race was on to gather as many inbound links as possible.

Of course it wasn’t so easy to just gather links in enough volume to affect a search engine ranking unless shady practices were used to obtain them. Methods included running special link building software to go out and look for websites that allowed ‘do follow’ links from places such as blogs.

Other ways to manipulate the search results involved link schemes where websites would link to each other and inserting links back from customer websites, which was a favourite tactic of web companies as soon as the benefits of this activity became clear. The more clients a web company could acquire the greater the advantage they gained on search engine results pages (SERPS).

The Arrival Of Penguin Changed SEO For The Better

This all changed 3 years ago when Google decided to clamp down on manipulative link building with the Penguin algorithm. This led to penalties for many websites and demotions in rankings for others. As ever the innocent as well as guilty webmasters felt the effects and business owners were forced to either clean up their link profile or risk banishment to the margins of SERPs.

To counteract the strict Penguin filters, SEO’s devised ways to disguise their link building by creating articles that seemed to be genuine news but were in many cases another way to manipulate search.

This led to another update that put an end to guest posting for SEO benefit and also linking from press releases. Both threatened to saturate SERPS therefore Google decided that another big clean-up was required, which again affected some of the innocent as well as the guilty.

While press releases are still a valuable way to generate links from outside sources, manipulation of these links can still result in penalties particularly keyword anchor text is used throughout articles.

The problem for SEOs (and Google) is what happens next?

The distinction between good and bad backlinks has never been so blurred. How is it possible to see the difference between a blog written for SEO and a blog written as part of a genuine attempt to reach out to the audience?

The answer is that currently it isn’t possible. It is still ok to have content published on other websites as long as any linking is natural. If your site is being quoted as a credible source of information then that is still valuable. If your article is appearing on websites unrelated to your niche, then that could be a problem.

When I tackle an SEO problem I like to look at things with an element of common sense. If what I’m doing feels wrong then inevitably it probably won’t be effective and at worst it may result in getting a penalty.

Which brings us to outbound linking. Have you noticed how website belonging to the larger online organisations link out in their articles?

Avoid Penalties And Rank High By Giving People The Best Answers

Writing for the web is all about giving people the best answer to their queries which is how it has always been and yes, this includes giving them a source of further information where required. I liken this to creating a paper at University.

Furthering knowledge requires a consideration of the views of other experts in the field or sources of further reading.None of us have all the answers. If you don’t include the views of others then your article is less credible. Nobody gets a good grade in university without quoting their sources.

So the immediate future of SEO and search relies on getting the balance right between inbound and outbound linking. Both are equally important in the new search landscape.

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