Though social has an ever increasing role in the future of the web, links will continue to have their own importance in the scheme of things online. They are such a fundamental element that we use links to navigate even on social media sites.
Links serve three basic purposes
They point to an online resource.
They help users and search engines robots reach that resource
With proper anchor text they give context to the resource for users and search engines to evaluate.
It is no small wonder that by being at the center of Google’s search algorithm, they have helped Google change the search landscape and dominate it.
Basic classification of links
Links point to a resource but they also exist on another resource. The most common resource is the web page but there can be others if we consider the internet in its entirety. This includes devices, media, sections within a web page and more. But all are connected by the fundamental entity called the link.
For simplification we will be looking at links as applied to web pages and websites their value as relevant to search engines, SEO and usability.
At a web page level, there are two fundamental types of links as below
Links that reside on it and point to other web pages – outgoing or outbound links
Links that reside on other web pages and point to it – incoming or inbound links
For SEO purposes these two types can be further classified by where they exist
Links which exist within the website – Internal links
Links which exist outside the website on other websites – external links
The four key link types
* Internal outgoing links – Links that point to other web pages within the same website. * External outgoing links – Links that point to other web pages existing at another website. * Internal incoming links – Links pointing to web page from other pages within the same website. * External incoming links – Links pointing to this page from other web pages existing at another website.
What value do each of these types offer your website
Internal outgoing links
Provide navigation for visitors to other sections of the website. Let search engines know what the other pages are about within the context of the website.
External outgoing links
Provides visitors with other useful resources outside the website. Help search engines assign a value to the external web page.
Internal incoming links
Help visitors to reach the web page from other pages in the website. Help search engines understand what the web page is about within the context of the website.
Internal incoming links
The most valued of all the link types in SEO, they brings visitors in from other websites. They provide information to the search engines about the web page within the context of their index of websites.
For SEO and Search Engines Incoming links offer strong signals for evaluating the web page. On the other hand outgoing links are secondary signals for search engines to get better context of the web page.