When Google was founded in 1996 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the initial system used to rank pages was mostly based on the number of links between them. The idea behind the so-called PageRank algorithm was that websites with more links were generally more valuable and offered more useful information to readers.
Google was the first to introduce and use links as a ranking factor, and the impact on the search engine landscape was profound. Within a decade, Google had gone from a startup enterprise to one of the most powerful search engines.
However, the way that PageRank works has changed tremendously since its early days. In the beginning, all that mattered was the number of links a website had. Where these links were positioned and how valuable they actually were to readers was of little significance. With the rise of link-spamming and selling links on public marketplaces, Google had to rethink its approach.
Types of links
Nowadays, the number of links on your website still plays a vital role when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) and how likely your page will show up among the top search results. Yet, quantity is not the only factor anymore. Google now distinguishes between several types of links and has rules for each of these categories.
- Links, or more precise hyperlinks, are highlighted objects on a website that will lead to another page when clicked. These objects can be text, images or buttons. There are 3 different types of links.
- Internal links – connect pages within your own website of the same domain name
- Inbound links – come from external websites or websites with a different domain name
Outbound links – lead from your website away to external websites with a different domain name
Links and SEO
The way Google analyzes and evaluates links now follows a complicated algorithm. However, there are a few easy rules to keep in mind when creating your website and adding links. How hyperlinks can influence your page ranking mostly depends on the type of link you use.
To prevent link-stuffing and ensure the quality of links, in the eyes of Google more is not necessarily better. Especially when it comes to internal links, having too many can even have a negative impact on your page rank as it dilutes the importance of each destination page. Therefore, internal links should help users navigate through your site, and thus be mainly used in your site navigation or when linking to internal pages related to the same topic.
The number of outbound links to external websites usually has little impact on your page rank but may influence other SEO factors. The rule of thumb is to use them sparingly and only when necessary, and ensure that the pages you are sending your readers to are of high quality.
When it comes to page rank and SEO, inbound links are the most valuable links your website can receive. When you have a number of external websites linking to yours, Google assumes that you are an expert in your field and that the information you provide to readers is useful, important and of high value.
However, inbound links are also the hardest ones to obtain. For some time, businesses were engaging in so-called link-building schemes until Google started penalizing the process of buying and selling links as a way to manipulate page rankings.
The best way to generate inbound links is by focusing on your website content, making it engaging, interesting and informative for your audience. Great, high-quality content creates credibility, authority and trustworthiness and increases the likelihood of people talking about it and sharing it.
If you need help with your content or are unhappy with the general performance of your website, contact the friendly team at Energise Web. We specialize in web design, search engine optimization and copywriting to help you and your business thrive.