The Internet is not millions of individual units of information known as websites. Instead, try and think of it like an ecosystem of interlinked species, or a spiderweb where each strand connects to other strands.
It’s extremely natural to link from one page of your website to another page of your website, Likewise, it’s extremely natural to link out from a page of your website to a page on a different website.
And, in terms of SEO, natural is good.
Before I get started on a pretty simple concept, I’m going to go back into Google history a bit. If you’re new to SEO, you may have seen the term Page Rank, or PR, tossed around and here and there. It’s not as important as it used to be, but it’s sometimes still talked about.
*Note: Google still uses Page Rank internally, but it doesn’t share PR publicly like it has in the past.
Page Rank, or PR, actually refers to a system designed by Google’s Larry Page. Without diving in to deep, it’s a way to determine how authoritative a page or post on the Internet is. It does so by looking at the authority and quantity of other outside pages and posts linking to it.
That means different pages and posts on your website can have different PR.
Many webmasters figured out that by linking from their popular pages, or the pages that had a bunch of links from outside websites, to their less popular content, they could artificially raise those pages PR.
This is/was called Page Rank Sculpting, and it’s not something Google condones.
However, if you don’t go crazy, and interlink naturally, it’s perfectly acceptable. It can help spread some authority around your entire site. And, it can also help your readers find information that their interested in more easily.
Just don’t do it abusively and make sure to vary your anchor text a little.
There’s a little debate as to this topic, but as this is my site, I’m going to go with what both my research and my experience lead me to believe.
Linking from your site to other websites is perfectly natural. And remember, in regards to SEO, natural is good.
Some SEO’s rant and rave as to why you shouldn’t link out. Their mindset is that you don’t want to leak PR from your website to someone else’s.
Why I can understand their mentality, I also thing that it’s much more logical to try and appear natural and as part of the Internet ecosystem than it is to put a big wall around your website and only allow in-traffic.
This doesn’t mean you need to go crazy and get get super aggressive with your outbound links, but link out to a relevant and trustworthy resource where applicable.
For example, if you have a page on your website discussing how to make an amazing martini it would be perfectly natural for you to link out to a couple of the best gin makers’ websites.
But, did you know there are two different ways to link out from your site (and within your site as well)?
A follow link, sometimes incorrectly referred to as a dofollow link, is the most basic type of link. The HTML would look something like:
This link would pass Page Rank from the page I am linking from to the page I am linking to. I would use this when I trust the other site. Another way to put it is that if you’re linking to a site that appears to be a quality resource and you’re doing so naturally, using a follow link is OK.
A nofollow link starts out just like a follow link, but there’s a little extra code attached to the HTML. It looks like:
<a href=”http://timothybackes.com” rel=”nofollow”>timothybackes.com</a>
Notice the addition of rel=”nofollow”
That extra bit of HTML tells Google to not pass Page Rank from your page to the other page.
Use a nofollow link in these situations:
By using nofollow links where appropriate, you are basically telling Google and the other search engines your website is not a paid link farm and that it’s a legitimate website.
Linking within and from the pages and posts on your website is all about making your website look natural. It keeps the Page Rank flowing through your site, and it lets your readers easily find any supporting information they are looking for.
As this is a bit of a debated topic, I’d love to hear other people’s opinions on the matter. Please feel free to comment below.