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What are inlinks and outlinks and relation to G SEO?

     
4:20 pm on Jan 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hi, I'm a bit new to SEO so I'd like to know what are Inlinks and Outlinks values and why are they important to Google SEO. What are the recommended values of each? Thanks in advance!
10:09 pm on Jan 1, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Inlinks = Links on other websites that send traffic to your site. Also called "backlinks". Traditionally Google has counted them as "votes" for your site, so that they help your site's Google rankings and traffic. But because some people have bought them, or built them artificially, Google's algorithm subjects them to a complex analysis before assigning any value to them. Also, one type of link, known as a nofollow link, is supposedly disregarded by the algorithm, and therefore is used for certain special purposes.

Outlinks = Links on your site that send people to other sites. Also called "outbound links". There is considerable uncertainty about how Google's algorithm uses them. One old SEO technique is to create links from your site to high authority sites in the same niche, on the theory that the resulting association between your site and the high authority sites will improve your site's standing with Google's ranking algorithm.
2:09 am on Jan 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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As of the past couple years I think Google really likes outlinks as it signifies that you researched your facts and are backing them up with what they believe to be credible/proper sources.
3:20 am on Jan 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone [webmasterworld.com]
Feb 2, 2002

G) Outbound Links:
From every page, link to one or two high ranking sites under that particular keyword. Use your keyword in the link text (this is ultra important for the future).


As you can see from the post above from 2002, the concept of links counting as a signal is very old. Links can be used as a signal about what your site is about. So if a page links to sites about green widgets then it could be a signal of what that page is about. But the algorithms for weeding out spam and the algorithms for determining relevance are far more complicated than that. Do not believe that this is something you must do to rank for a phrase because outbound links are not necessary nor are they a part of a recipe of page elements that are needed in order to rank well (Title tag, H1, outlinks to dot edu site, <strong>, H2, etc., etc.) So if you are concerned about outbound links for ranking better, remember that this was being discussed by us in 2002 and the engines (and many of us) are well beyond that.

Inlinks are currently important. But those are signals among many other signals. Inlinks serve several purposes, not just for determining relevance but also many other things.
11:27 am on Jan 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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martinibuster -- I said in my post that linking out to high-authority sites is an "old" technique.

But just because a technique is old, that doesn't mean that it doesn't work. I don't know if it works or not, but I'm not going to rule it out just because it's old. In fact I personally think there's a reasonably-good chance that it does work.
11:47 am on Jan 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I agree with aristotle. Following 13 year old advice does not mean it is still right or now wrong. It just means that it is old advice and there might be newer ideas to also incorporate.
1:52 pm on Jan 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I like the idea of linking out generously from content you've written and there are multiple reasons to do so, whether citing your sources, citing those who agree / disagree with the view you're taking, giving a hat tip to someone who inspired the content, or giving a good source for related topics that your site doesn't cover for further reading or action.

There may or may not be direct benefits algorithmically from doing this, but this is subject to search engine whims, and could come and go depending on what Google decides it wants to reward.

However I think there will ALWAYS be indirect benefits that come from:
- linking out generously; and
- providing a 'mini-hub' page on the topic in question.
4:15 pm on Jan 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It just means that it is old advice and there might be newer ideas to also incorporate.


Agreed, which is the point of my post. Your statement and my post are in agreement. Also, I apologize for any confusion, my comment was not a response to Aristotle but an addition to the post that preceded mine (otherwise I would have mentioned Aristotle by name). ;)

- It's an old concept.

-It's been blindly abused (linking to dot gov and dot edu sites for SEO purposes).

- Most importantly: Checklists and recipes for best SEO best practices make concepts easy to understand but I feel they can also be misleading because historically, to be frank, what's been published on blogs and forums about SEO has lagged behind what the search engines have been doing. Examples are: TrustRank metrics, toolbar PageRank, brand mentions, silos, paid links (at one time it was promoted as white hat), reciprocal links.

The SEO industry tends to latch onto concepts and buzzwords then lurches forward with them for a year or two, until a hand-fed tidbit from Google arrives, usually in the form of a Thou Shalt Not. Then the industry shifts direction. Many years ago paid links were considered white hat on the argument that it was advertising. But that argument was packed away into the closet with the rest of the SEO skeletons when Google explicitly stated they would penalize them. But was it necessary for Google to say that? Many people used common sense and stayed away from third party text link brokers.

But this is the history of the SEO industry, to follow practices without thinking too deeply about those practices. I want to encourage the OP and others to not accept practices at face value but to at least try to understand them and have a more intelligent conversation that goes beyond "do this and do that; avoid doing this and the other"then sending them away with a pat on the head. Does anyone disagree with having an advanced discussion about the topics at hand? Or should we keep it simple and dole out the head pats?

What I am proposing is catching up with what the engines are doing by understanding the historical and scientific basis for current best practices. So yes, outlinks are a positive signal. Outlinks are also a negative signal. The search engines incorporate signals for determining relevance. Search engines incorporate signals for determining attempts to game them. There are "newer ideas to also incorporate" about outlinks.

[edited by: martinibuster at 5:00 pm (utc) on Jan 2, 2015]

4:51 pm on Jan 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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However I think there will ALWAYS be indirect benefits that come from:


I like indirect benefits. I won't put words in your mouth but for me the definition is activities that benefit or delight the site visitor. Indirect benefits are a perception of authority or usefulness. This in turn leads to more links. That in turn can lead to better ranking. However it can be helped along and amplified. That's a practice I call cultivating citations.
5:12 pm on Jan 2, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@MB - 100% agree on delighting the visitor and showing authority.

Links out show your thought process, mindset, the trouble you took to fact-check, see what others thought, investigate other avenues/approaches etc. They're a demonstration of a rigorous approach to the topic at hand.

Done right, that says 'quality' to humans. And if it doesn't say 'quality' to Google, then hopefully actions taken by your visitors or those you link to will.
9:45 pm on Jan 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Another aspect of placing outbound links on your pages is to service the interests of the viewer. Pretty basic concept and if it does not have a direct SEO effect, then it should.

No single web page can be all things to all people at all times. Providing links to authorative, on-topic resources allows the viewer to decide if they want to further explore the topic or a branch of the topic that is beyond the scope of the site.

However, when a page includes several topics and those topics are all given an outbound link to an authority, then it's highly likely that SE's see the page content as being fragmented and impossible to rank accurately.... which brings us back to SEO.

I have always been a champion of outbound links... but don't overdo it and ALWAYS check out the site you are linking to.
12:26 pm on Jan 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm also a fan of outbound links but focus on value for the visitor and not SEO benefits. I believe any potential SEO benefits are almost certainly indirect. Link out when it makes sense to, and link out to relevant sources. Citing research, studies, reports, and media coverage is good practice, especially if it supports your own information. But keep it natural; avoid keywords in anchor text, and don't follow a checklist/recipe (remember the once popular practice of publishing articles with 3 links, 1 to your money site and 2 to authority sites usually including wikipedia ?). This leaves a big footprint, you don't want to do that !
4:49 pm on Jan 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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My understanding, according to a reading of various research papers, about some of the possible inlink and outlink factors that may be used as signals to identify spam sites:

* outbound links per page
* ratio of outbound links per inbound link
* percentage of inbound links to the level with most inlinks
* average number of cross links per page
* Ratio of keyword anchor text to navigational anchor text in cross links

SEO, as defined by the practices of white hat (and black hat) practitioners, is an attempt to influence the search engines to rank better. So if SEOs follow certain practices in their outbound/inbound link practices then it stands to reason that certain patterns will emerge to identify those trying to influence the algorithms.

My feeling on this is that certain industry "best practices" of inlinks and outlinks are not so best. That's my intuition.
8:15 pm on Jan 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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First... When Brett wrote that post (Feb 2, 2002) there was no concept of nofollow links, unnatural links or the PENGUIN algorithm.

Second... outbound links do not necessarily mean external links.

Third... When you review Wikipedia it has no outbound external links at all on most #1 position result pages that are associated with the link graph thus this refutes Brett's Concepts today.
8:46 pm on Jan 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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outbound links do not necessarily mean external links

Under what circumstances would a link to the same site be considered an "outbound link" as opposed to just navigation or a cross-reference?

I like to make links that look different depending on whether it's internal or external, though I've got a nagging feeling this may just confuse the user-- assuming they even notice. The problem is that there are too many tiers:
-- a fragment elsewhere on the current page
-- another, closely related page
-- an unrelated page on the same site (in my case, normally a different top-level directory)
-- a different subdomain
-- a page on a completely different site
9:16 pm on Jan 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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From a search engine vantagepoint:

All links provide navigational ability. Googlebot crawls internal links just the same as external ones - it navigates freely. This means internal links are more important than external ones.

Cross-reference is a process not a link type.

Outbound implies "off-page" all links except name anchors go outbound from the page.

Contrary to common belief, while it is understood that you need external links to provide more link juice than your own pages can produce themselves it is the internal links that have the most/best impact on ranks.

This is why some sites don't get nailed by PENGUIN for doing the exact same thing as other sites when they are both manipulating results with external link anchor text (paid links).

Making your links different styles is good for human usability but does nothing for bots thus nothing for ranks.
9:44 pm on Jan 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Well... in research papers and in this specific discussion (given the title is about inlinks &outlinks), outlinks are links pointing out of a site. Inlinks are links pointing from other sites into a site. Additionally, within the context of research papers, crosslinks are understood to be links from within a site that point to another page within a site. Furthermore, anchor text can contain keyword information or it can contain navigational data (click here). To take this a step further, but not currently a part of this discussion, a leaf page is a web page that is the end of the navigational tree and from which there are no more lower levels. Those are the conventions used on research papers and I'm pretty sure by most members in this discussion because the title of this discussion is inlinks and outlinks, concepts whose meaning is pretty clear.

Philosophically Fathom I get what you mean about navigational links etcetera. However for the purposes of this discussion I think we can all agree on what an inlink and an outlink is.
2:14 pm on Jan 20, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hi born2run,

There are quite a few very professional SEO gurus responding to your post. But let me tell you the short story from a SEO/Digital Marketing Guy that had to self-learn without having all this history behind him.

Inlinks are links on other websites pointing to your website, because your website offers information or service that might be interesting to the users of the other website. Plain and simple. And it does not matter whether these links are artificially made (aka you submitted your business listing in 20 industry directories or other similar websites) or because someone reading your website article decided it is a good piece of information he can share one way or the other.

Outlinks are the the same thing, only this time you are the person deciding to share content from other websites to your website.

Technicalities aside, so long you receive inlinks via natural ways (not excessively spamming random directories or paying other websites to post a link to your website in any way) you will do great.

Now the sad truth. If you play by the rules, obtaining good amount of inlinks(backlinks) is hard and outlining your articles to various sources is easy. And the logic is simple. You have control over where you outlink, but have less control over where you inlink. Thus for most websites (especially the newer ones) your outlinks will be 2x/3x/10x more than your inlinks, which from my personal experience will not hurt you in any way.

As discussed in this thread, over the years there were many many many abusers of how links are created and received. Thus in 2014 the combined power of two algorithms called Panda and Penguin pretty much squashed all the "easy" methods of spamming your way to the top of the SERPs(search results).

Once that was widely agreed upon, the obvious solution to gain the much needed inlinks to your website is through quality content. And I feel the need to emphasize this : Quality content does not necessarily mean, a fully researched unique piece of information(unless you have one of those which is immensely powerful!) but rather, something the people searching the web might like or benefit from. This might be a listing page with your products from your local shop, or your favorite destinations. So long as what you decide to bring live on your website, is something you think the people can benefit from you are in a good place.

Oh and one last thing - according to Google linking another page of your website in your content page is perfectly fine (unless abused of course) and even encouraged. For example you have a hotel listing page for a city.If you link to another page on your website with say a calendar with events in the city where your hotel is, that is complementary information that the users and consequently Google will like.

The short story - build a site for humans potentially interested in you and your business and link that site in a way for these humans to find it easily and believe me you will be up there in the rankings sooner than you think.

Everything else is preparation and technical work that you can read on this very forum.

P.S. A tip if I may - do your research. More often than not people want to target audiences that are already swarmed with more of the same information or sell stuff other bigger companies already sell quite well. If your niche is that competitive, be prepared to bring quite the budget on the table as you will play with the big dogs and you need to be prepared for it.