What Are Inbound Links and Why Are They Important?

Links are the name of the game in SEO, and the more links your site has, the more ranking potential it has. But there are many different types of links, so how can you determine which type is the most important? 

Inbound, outbound, internal, external, etc, are all types of links with some overlap in the definition. But, what are inbound links, and why are they essential to your success in SEO? 

In this guide, we will address this and help you understand more about the role of inbound links in SEO.  

What is an Inbound Link?

Inbound links are hyperlinks from other websites that direct users to your website. So, when someone clicks on the link on another site, it automatically sends them to your site. Think of this as a “vote of confidence” from the other site. 

By giving you that link, they say your content is valuable and worth sharing with their audience. It’s an endorsement, and search engines pay attention to these types of things. 

That’s why inbound links are so important for your SEO. You’ve probably heard people call them “backlinks.” 

Inbound links are like virtual pathways that connect different web pages across the vast online landscape, helping search engines discover and index your site more effectively.

There are various types of inbound links, such as text, images, logos, and more. You can find inbound links baked into content with anchor text, in comments, author bios, directories, and even social media posts. 

a picture of internal links

You’ll see three external links in the image above from our seopress vs slim seo review. These help provide our readers with more information but are inbound links for the site we’re linking to. 

inbound link to linkwhisper.com

Here’s a review someone did of Link Whisper on thewebsiteflip.com . The big green button is a link to our website. This is an inbound link for Link Whisper and positively signals to Google that our website is worth ranking.  

Understanding the Value of an Inbound Link

Understanding that not all inbound links carry the same value is crucial. Some are more powerful and can create better results. 

Search engines evaluate the quality and relevance of each inbound link to determine its significance. A link from a highly reputable and authoritative website within your industry carries more weight than a link from a low-quality or irrelevant source. 

ahrefs

Take Ahrefs.com for an example. A link from a DR 91 website with 4.4 million backlinks and 2.1 million visitors would have a TON of value, right? This link would be worth the same as dozens of lower DR links. 

Let this be a testament to quality over quantity regarding link building. You shouldn’t go out chasing giants if you have a super new website because you’ll never be able to earn these links but you should try to take advantage of any high value links when the opportunity comes knocking. 

Benefits of Inbound Links

Now let’s talk more specifically about some of the benefits of inbound links and why you’ll want to prioritize this if you’re trying to grow your website, increase your rankings, and bring in more visitors. 

Increase PageRank

PageRank is the unforeseen algorithm used by Google to determine the importance of a relevance of a page. No one knows for certain what factors contribute to your PageRank but this is the game that SEOs choose to play. 

That said, a few factors help us determine that inbound links are important for increasing PageRank.

First, authority and trust. The more links you have, the more authority you have. This is especially true if you can earn links from high-quality and reputable websites. Think of these links like a positive 5-star review on a local business. 

That review would make you more likely to patronize that business, right? 

Google thinks in the same way. When a website has a lot of high-quality links, Google sees it as a trustworthy source, and as a result ranks the site higher in the search engines.

In addition to authority, search engines also consider the relevance and context of inbound links. When a website within your industry or niche links to your page, it indicates that your content is related and valuable to that particular topic.

This is why it’s so crucial to get inbound links from relevant websites. There are tons of sites out there that will provide links to anyone as long as they’re willing to pay. 

thenewsgod.com

Look at this site. Thenewsgod.com is an example of a website that will sell you a link no matter what the topic is. This brings the value of this link down so it decreases the positive impact it can have on your PageRank. You want to avoid links like this. 

Increase Traffic 

While it’s slightly unclear if there is a direct correlation between more links equalling more traffic, we can say with a little confidence that this is the case. 

The more high-quality inbound links you have, the higher Google is likely to rank you which will naturally increase your traffic as you climb the search engine results page. 

Just keep in mind that there are many pieces to this puzzle besides links. You still need to have valuable content, a site that functions properly, and something of value to provide when people land on your site. 

If you combine all of these factors, you’ll have higher conversions, too, which can bring on even better results in terms of sales. 

Increase Brand Awareness 

Let’s go back to the example of “getting a link from Ahrefs.com.” If you’ve been in SEO for any amount of time, you know that Ahrefs is one of the most reputable websites on the internet. So, how would you perceive a site that got a link from them?

Would you think that they are authoritative and trustworthy? We assume you would. 

Now look at thenewsgod.com again. What about a link from that site? Does that impress you as much as the link from Ahrefs? Probably not. 

This is where brand awareness comes in. Even if your site doesn’t have a huge DR or a ton of traffic, a link from a big site can give you a big boost, resulting in increased brand awareness. 

The moral of the story is, don’t think you can’t get links from big sites when you have a small site. You just need to have something new and valuable. You also need to know how to pitch it and make it sound like a great addition to their page or blog post. 

Build Relationships and Future Opportunity 

If you have websites linking to you, don’t be afraid to reach out. A great way to find sites that are linking to you is with Ahrefs or Google Alerts

backlink research in ahrefs

With the backlink profile in Ahrefs, you can find all the sites that link to you. You can then use hunter.io to find contact information for people on the site and reach out. 

This is a great way to forge new relationships and create future opportunities for more links and collaborations. 

How to Get More Inbound Links 

If more inbound links is your goal, here are some ways to make it a reality: 

Create Linkworthy Content 

All great link building starts with great content. The content needs to address an issue; it needs to be useful, relevant, and credible. 

In fact, some people don’t try to build links at all. Google frowns upon link building because most people trade long-term gains for short-term wins. Google believes that if you’re creating great content, it’ll rank and naturally get inbound links. 

While this is true to a certain extent, a little manual link building doesn’t hurt either. 

Just make sure you have a direct audience for your content, that it provides more value than your competition, and that the content is actionable and the reader walks away with something more than a bunch of information. 

Do Effective Keyword Research

What does “effective” keyword research mean? It means that the keywords you choose are relevant to the audience you’re targeting and the content you’re writing. 

Here’s how you do it. 

  1. Google the main topic that you want to write about.
  2. Find the top competitors already ranking for that content.
  3. Put them into the “site explorer” in Ahrefs.
  4. Go to their keywords.
  5. See what keywords they are ranking for an use those in your content
keyword research in ahrefs

So, if I wanted to rank a piece of content on “how to clean a Keurig,” this might be the result I end up with in Ahrefs. 

A pro tip is to filter position by the keywords that the site ranks in the top five for. You can see where the red arrow is pointing. This narrows it down to the keywords they rank in the top five search positions for. 

This example is pretty competitive, so you can also filter by low competition keywords as well. 

The main thing to remember is that the keywords you choose need to:

  • Be relevant to the topic
  • Be associated with your audience
  • Have traffic
  • Be low enough competition based on the age and reputation of your site

Build a Strong Internal Link Structure

Having a good internal linking policy is good for your website for a number of reasons. First, it helps provide a better user experience for the people that land on your site as the result of an inbound link. 

Second, internal linking helps Google better understand what your site is all about. This is because internal links make it easier for Google to crawl the site, which can result in higher rankings and ultimately, more inbound links. 

These reasons are why I believe SEO is like a puzzle. It’s not complete unless you have every piece in place. Every step supports a previous step.

The best way to improve your internal linking strategy is with Link Whisper. The WordPress extension automatically provides internal linking suggestions as you’re writing content. 

using link whisper for internal linking

If you’ve let your internal linking go, you can use the plugin to go back to existing content, and Link Whisper will provide suggestions for links and anchor text. 

By conducting an internal link audit, you can see how many orphan pages you have and help spread link juice throughout the website. Doing this will increase your chances of ranking and accumulating more links to your valuable content. 

Add Great Visuals and Infographics 

Remember that your images can show up in a Google search, and a lot of people can write great content, but not all great content has awesome images. 

Use infographics in your content and break it up with plenty of bullet lists, videos, headers, and even emojis. 💪

Users hate long walls of text and if users hate your content, so will Google. Remember what we said in the beginning about “all great link building starting with great content.” You can write the Picasso of a guide, but it’s useless if you format it like an essay. 

Websites not only want to link to useful and authoritative content, but it needs to provide a great user experience as well. 

Fix Broken Links 

A broken link is an inbound link that once worked but is no longer active. This is sometimes the result of a URL change or a typo in the original link. 

404 error

Instead of the link taking your visitors to an active page, they’ll likely see something like this. This results in a poor experience which will lead to Google seeing you as less reputable. 

A great way to find and fix broken links is with the internal link audit tool from Link Whisper. 

internal link audit tool from link whisper

Link Whisper makes this incredibly easy by allowing you to directly identify and fix the broken internal links from the report. In the example above, we’re looking at an external link to an Amazon product and it even tells you the sentence and anchor text for the link. 

You can simply delete the link and replace it with a new one. 

In the case of an inbound link from another website, you’ll want to reach out to the website owner and ask if they’d be willing to add a link to the new URL. 

This is also a great opportunity to find broken links pointing to competitor content. If you can provide them with an equal or better piece of content, they might be willing to give you the link as a way of saying thank you for finding it! 

Final Thoughts 

Inbound links in SEO are essential to how the search engines view and rank your website. Think of each inbound link as a positive five-star review telling Google your site is worth it. 

By following the steps in this guide, you can identify more opportunities to get inbound links, increase your traffic, and ultimately, make more money. 

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