What is a Link - Types of Links Explained

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Links and Link Building

If you're new to the internet or just new to internet publishing, you might be asking yourself what is all this linking business about - what is a link and what are all the different types of links? Well, you're going to find out about every type of link that there is, right here.

We're going to go right from the basics of what a link is, and work our way through everything you need to know about the types of links there are. This is part 3 of the series on "How to Make Money on HubPages."

  • What is a Link?
  • How are Links Helpful?
  • Internal Linking
  • External Links / Outbound Links
  • Inbound Links
  • Link Building
  • Backlinks
  • Organic or Natural Linking
  • Reciprocal Links
  • One-way Links
  • Anchored Text Links
  • How to Create Links
  • Anchor Links
  • Do Follow and No Follow Links
  • HubPages Linking Rules

As you can see from the list above there is a lot of information here, so you might want to have a toilet break, get yourself a coffee and make a sandwich before you start reading :)

A Hyperlink Image Icon
A Hyperlink Image Icon

What is a Link?

In the simplest terms, a link on a webpage is a pointer to more information. The link can point to information on the same webpage or point to information on another webpage.

The precise term for an internet link is a hyperlink. Hyperlinks are usually in a different colour to the main text to make them more prominent and they are often, but not always, underlined.

If you're absolutely new to the concept of a link try thinking of it this way: when you buy a magazine, on page 2 or 3 there will usually be a table of contents. You might skim through this content list to find the part of the magazine that you really want to read. So for instance, the article on page 35 really grabs your attention and you flick to that page. You read through that article and at the end it says, for more information about the author read page 72. You flick to that page and read that.

The same concept for finding information in a magazine applies to the internet, except that a magazine will only have around 75 pages - the internet has billions of pages of information. On the internet instead of flicking through pages to find more information, you click on links.


Linking for Internet Publishers - How Are Links Helpful?

If you read the section above on what is a link, you will know that I said a link is a pointer to more information. For internet publishers (those of us who write web articles, create website content and write blogs), links are more than just a pointer - they are potential votes.

To understand why links are important we need to understand how search engines, such as Google, use links.

Search Engines Use Links to Crawl the Web

The main way that search engines find and categorize information on the world wide web is by using search crawlers (also known as search bots or search robots). The search bots follow the links from one page to another and record information about each page that they find.

Search Engines Use Links as Votes

The job of a search engine is to find the most relevant and trusted information available on a particular topic. One of the ways they do this is by looking to see what other pages think the information is valuable or in other words, assessing which webpages point to another page. It is a popularity contest.The greater the number of relevant webpages you have pointing to your page the better, because search engines see these links or pointers, as popularity votes. If you have a lot of other pages pointing via links to your page, the search engine will increase the position of your page in the search results because it will believe (as much as a computer can believe) that your page is better and more informative, than other pages on the same topic with less votes.


Internal Linking

Internal linking means pages linked together within one website. This applies to both links you create between your own pages and the automatic links that HubPages creates.

How is Internal Linking Useful?

The internal link structure of a website is equally if not more important than getting external links. Search engines bots want to see that your site is user friendly and easily navigable. Also, the more internal links a page has to it, the more important the search bot will see the page as well.

You can use internal links to:

  • Help search engines find your new pages by linking to them from your other related pages that have already been indexed.
  • Create a group of pages on the same topic which in effect creates a mini site with a site.
  • Create anchored text links (see below)


External Links or Outbound Links

The term external links relates to links you have on your page pointing to other websites, in other words links pointing to an external source. Google especially likes webpages that provide links to very relevant information on the same topic and consequently Google will rate up pages that do this.

How to Use External Links

  • Link out from your page to other quality pages on the same or highly related topics.
  • Use a browser tool that tells you a webpages' pagerank so that you can make sure you are linking to highly rated pages.
  • Do not link to poor or spammy websites.


Inbound Links or Backlinks

So what is a backlink?

A backlink or inbound link is simply a link on another website that points to your content, whether that be a website, article or blog. In general, the more backlinks you have to your pages, the higher search engines rate your page and the higher in the search results they get.

This is why internet marketers go all goo goo over backlinks, because their aim (and yours too if you want ot make money online) is to get their webpages on the first page of the search results.

Should I Bother with Backlinking?

Well, it really depends on how much competition you have for the topic your page is written on and which keyphrases you are trying to rank well for in the search results pages. The more competition you have the more backlinks you need. My own approach to writing content online has been to find keyphrases without much competition which means that getting backlinks isn't as important as writing top quality content.

Organic or Natural Linking

If you focus your efforts on writing excellent content that is well optimized, you will find that over time, other pages will naturally link to your work. This is known as organic or natural linking because you haven't done anything specific to get those links - it has just happened naturally.


Link Building

The term link building relates to your own efforts to create links that point to your page or pages. If you do decide you need to do this to improve your search engine results positions for your chosen keyphrases, then you need to make sure that the websites you use to create links give "DoFollow" links. I will explain DoFollow and NoFollow links further in the next section

Reciprocal Links - Link Exchange

One way that internet publishers gain links to their content is by approaching similar or related websites and asking for a link exchange. That is, "I will provide a link to your content if you provide a link to mine." This type of link building used to be popular in the past but is becoming less so. You don't get much of a boost in the results pages if any, by having reciprocal links with other websites. What's more important in link building is one-way links.

One-way Links

A one-way link is a link that only points to your website ie: it's not a two way or reciprocal link. These kinds of links are given more weight by search engines because they look like a natural or organic link. If the link also contains the keyphrases that you are trying to rank well for (known as an anchored text link) then the link is given even more search engine kudos.


Anchored Text Links

You can use anchored text links to link between pages and to create outbound links. If you want other content writers or webmasters to give you anchored text links you will normally need to have more than one writing platform for this to work, so for instance: I create an anchored text link from my blog to your website and you create an anchored text link from your article to my website. The links are not two way, even though we are both helping each other out. Both parties link from, and to, separate platforms.

When you ask another webmaster to create a link for you, you can ask that they use specific anchor text. The best way to explain an anchored text link as opposed to a normal link is to show you the difference. This is a normal link:


Because of the way that webpages are coded, when we type a web address in our content such as the one above, a link is usually automatically created.

But if we want the text to be clickable we create an anchored text link:

Amazon Affiliate Program

You can see that instead of the link being shown as the full web address www. etc, the text has been linked through words that I have chosen. In this case I have chosen a keyphrase that I would like the page to rank well for in the search results.

How to Create an Anchored Text Link

The way to create an anchored text link is the same in most webpage builders, blogging platforms and article writing websites. Simply type the text you would like to use as the anchor text >> highlight the text >> click on the link button which usually looks like a number 8 on it's side >> a new box will pop up that prompts you to insert the full URL http://www. etc >> paste it in >> click ok and you're done.

If we want to create anchored text links using html, this is the format:

<a href="http://www.hubpages.com/profile/Susana+S"> Freelance Writer</a>

This will show as Freelance Writer.


Anchor Links

Just to confuse matters there is another type of link that is known as an anchor link. In this context an anchor link is when you link to another area of your webpage. So for instance at the top of your webpage you may have a list of headings describing what can be found on the page. Each heading links to the correct section of the webpage where that information can be found. Here's an example of one of my webpages where I use anchor links: Dream Analysis - Common Dreams


Do Follow and No Follow Links

If you've decided to do some link building then understanding DoFollow and NoFollow links is a must. Unless you are using the particular website to gain traffic (visitors) rather than backlinks, you don't want to waste your time creating backlinks at websites that give outbound links a NoFollow attribute, .

What are NoFollow and DoFollow Links?

When a link is given the NoFollow attribute it simply tells the search engine bots not to follow the link - it instructs them to ignore the link. Because of this, links that are NoFollow do not count as backlinks.

A DoFollow link is the opposite of the above. DoFollow links are followed by search bots and credited as backlinks.

How to Check a Websites' Outbound Links are DoFollow or NoFollow

Unless a website is clear about their outbound links policy you are going to need to do some exploring to find out for sure. Here's how to check whether a site offers DoFollow or NoFollow links.

Let's use an example:

  1. Open the website in a new browser window
  2. Go find a recent article
  3. Right click on the page and select View Source.
  4. A text document should open up in a new window showing the coding for the page.
  5. Hold down the control button (ctrl) and click F (this will open the find or search box).
  6. In the search box type rel.
  7. Click "find next" to search through the pages' coding.
  8. When you find a "rel" look closely to see if it looks like this: rel="nofollow">
  9. If you do find one of these, look to see what is not being followed. Most sites do have some nofollow links, but what you're looking for are the outbound link attributes. In the example I'm using this is what is not being followed. <a href=http://dogkennelsforsale.org/ rel="nofollow">Dog kennels</a> So this person is not getting a backlink from this article.
  10. DoFollow links sometimes show as rel="dofollow"> but more often than not if the links are DoFollow, the outbound link is given no attribute.


Linking Rules for Hubpages

You can link to as many websites, that you have no financial interest in, as you like. In fact, as we talked about earlier in the External Links and Outbound Links section of this hub, linking out to informative and highly ranked pages on related topics is a good thing.

The limits come in when we start talking about websites or blogs that you own or that you have a financial interest in such as affiliate partner websites. I can't say it any better than Hubpages does themselves, so here is what they say about promotional links:

From the Horses Mouth

"Purely promotional offers and Hubs designed only to promote other sites or businesses are not allowed. In particular, the following actions are likely to get your hubs flagged:

  • linking repeatedly to the same site within a hub or across many hubs

  • including links to a page that contains largely the same content as your hub

  • linking to products or services unrelated to a Hub's content

  • including more than 2 links to any one domain

  • short "teasers" with links to "read more" at another site

  • including promotional links on content that is unoriginal (i.e. not exclusive to HubPages); promotional links can only be included on content that is exclusive to HubPages

  • linking to the same domain in the body of the text AND in an RSS feed

Please note that promotional links are links that you have any interest in promoting (your blog, your Website, affiliate offers, etc.). Links to well-known Web resources which you don't have any personal interest in (like Wikipedia, news sites, encyclopedias, open directories, etc.) are exempt from this limitation."



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And finally...

Well there we are! By now you will have the answer to your question - what is a link? And you'll also know all about why links are important, what the different types of links are and how to use them.

More by this Author


TattoGuy 7 years ago

Now this is info I am after, just printed it out to lie back and read it so that's why I have replied so quickly ; )

Susana S profile image

Susana S 7 years ago Author

Wow that was fast! Thanks Tatto and happy reading :)

TattoGuy 7 years ago

Jeeez I am not that fast, I have only just read it. I printed it out to read whilst having my lunch. But I have now read it and found it really helpful, you deff are one clever lady, cheers for sharing you lil genius ; )

Susana S profile image

Susana S 7 years ago Author

Aw shucks, lol :) Thanking you! And I'm so glad it was helpful.

scarytaff profile image

scarytaff 7 years ago from South Wales

Very useful information, Susana S. Thanks very much.

hypnodude profile image

hypnodude 7 years ago from Italy

Read, rated, bookmarked, and saved. Thanks for giving answers to my questions. Another great hub Susana.

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

There is so much information that I have to go over and over again. Thank you so much.

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

What a wealth of information, Susana, thanks!

martycraigs profile image

martycraigs 7 years ago

A great tutorial for being introduced to the types of links. Very informative.

thanks for sharing.

lindagoffigan profile image

lindagoffigan 7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Helpful information but no information about the optimization for monetizing except for definitions. I would have like to know that most profitable as I write for a living, internal links, external links ...

Susana S profile image

Susana S 7 years ago Author

@scarytaff - you're welcome and thanks for reading :)

@hello hello - yep lots to learn!

@lorlie - it was only meant to be short but it ended up over 3000 words! Thanks for stopping by :)

@marty - you're very welcome. I love to share :)

@ Linda - this isn't a hub about optimization that's why there's no info on it! Here's one I wrote on that topic: http://hubpages.com/hub/increase-page-rank-google-...

Links are not profitable in themselves unless you sell links from your own highly ranked content. All the kinds of links are important to know about though because they all have a different purpose - they can increase your positions in the search results, increase traffic, help search engines find your new content, get high PR links internally from Hubpages etc, as I explained above. They all have a part to play.

uliveulearn profile image

uliveulearn 7 years ago from Canada

Again, so much valuable information. I particularly appreciated the advice to use a browser tool to determine pagerank for external links and the clear instructions on how to check "Do Follow and No Follow". May have taken me a long time to figure out these simple but important steps. Thanks ever so much.

Nicks 7 years ago

Very clear, very concise - and really helpful to an old Luddite like me. Great stuff!!

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 7 years ago from Long Island, NY

Susana, This was full of important information for webmasters as well as Hubbers. I had a lot of Anchor Links on my business site that linked from one page to another with "Learn more" in the anchor text. Thanks to you, I am now going to change all of them to more meaningful and specific text. Wow, this is powerful stuff. I can see how that will help. Thanks.

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

Great information all in one spot. I learned something too. Thank you.

Chris Eddy111 profile image

Chris Eddy111 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Best info. and extremely helpful. Thank you.

martycraigs profile image

martycraigs 7 years ago

This a great hub explaining links.

Stock Trading Infocentre 7 years ago

I learnt something today. Thanks.

JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 7 years ago from Jaipur

Hi Susana S,

Extremely good article. These gives all related info one want. The description of pointing of outbound links is rather new to many one.


Jyoti Kothari

Jonathan Douglas 7 years ago

Just what I was looking for.

Why can someone promote eBay items and have many many links to different products?

Susana S profile image

Susana S 7 years ago Author

Thanks for your feedback guys and gals - I appreciate it :)

Jonathan - the answer is I don't know! I don't know the technicalities, but on HubPages at least, product links to ebay or amazon aren't included in the promotional link rules. As far as I know you can have as many products as you like without penalization (though you would not want to go too mad as it would put off customers). There doesn't seem to be any penalization for adding product links on my websites/blogs either, though what I've read does lend some confusion on the issue.

If your blog/website has tonnes of links to a single affiliate company such as a clikbank product then it can be penalized. Maybe the search bots rate product links to high authority product websites differently? I've noticed that many amazon products I link to have high PR pages.

Maria 6 years ago

Wow! This is the best explanation I've ever seen on this subject! Really well done!

Susana S profile image

Susana S 6 years ago Author

Thanks Maria - I hope you shared it ;)

alvinlim84 profile image

alvinlim84 6 years ago from Malaysia

Wow. Very full detail of different type of links and also with complete examples on how to create those links. Good one :)

sibaja_software profile image

sibaja_software 6 years ago from Italy

Thanks for research and providing this hub. I found it very helpful

Susana S profile image

Susana S 6 years ago Author

That's nice to hear sibaja - than you :)

Gabrielle 6 years ago

This was very helpful for me, especially since I'm trying to figure out how to create backlinks for my brothers website. This surely answered all that I needed to know, thank you for pointing me in the right direction!

bgigstead profile image

bgigstead 6 years ago

Thanks that cleared up the whole link thing. This was causing me some confusion until I read the article. Like I said earlier, I lover your articles. Thanks.

Susana S profile image

Susana S 6 years ago Author

That great news bgigstead :) That was my aim to ensure that a complete beginner would get a very good understanding on the types of links. Thanks for stopping by :)

ABHISHEK SEO 6 years ago

Thanks for research and providing this hub. I found it very informative...!

ABHISHEK SEO 6 years ago

Thanks for research and providing this hub. I found it very informative...!

WriteAngled profile image

WriteAngled 6 years ago from Treorci, Cymru

Thank you, this is really useful.

Susana S profile image

Susana S 6 years ago Author

You're welcome. Thanks for visiting :)

Dale Mazurek profile image

Dale Mazurek 6 years ago from Canada

What a great hub. So many people will benefit from this one.

You obviously did your homework and that is great to see.

Hopefully I can help with a little more traffic as the hub is now listed on my blog.



Susana S profile image

Susana S 6 years ago Author

Hi Dale - thanks very much for the post on your blog :) I've done my best to make this the definitive guide on links and all the types of links for those that are new to working online - thanks for the positive feedback. Much appreciated :)

FduToit profile image

FduToit 6 years ago from Johannesburg, South Africa

Hi Susana,

Very helpful hub on the different types of links! You have done a great job explaining everything! I am certainly going to follow you. :)

All the best,


Susana S profile image

Susana S 6 years ago Author

Hi Francois - glad to hear you found my hub on links informative :)

Dr. Cherie profile image

Dr. Cherie 6 years ago from Hamburg, NY

OMG Thank you!!!!! Bless you!

What a great hub.

Georgiana85 6 years ago

Thanks for the help!


FindYourSearch profile image

FindYourSearch 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

This is a very comprehensive Hub. I haven't found any other resource that takes readers from the very most basic understanding of a link all the way through SEO considerations. Well done!

lucieanne profile image

lucieanne 6 years ago from Boston United Kingdom

Brilliant. Very informative. Now all I have to do is apply it. (might have to re-read it several times for the penny to drop though)Thanks for this.

Susana S profile image

Susana S 6 years ago Author

Hi lucieanne - Many thanks for visiting and I hope this info on links helps you :)

Rich Cederberg profile image

Rich Cederberg 6 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

Wow, that's a great Hub, it's answered many questions that I had about links. I will definitely share this.

Rich Cederberg profile image

Rich Cederberg 6 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

I have a follow up question. Does commenting on "do-follow" blogs, where you make a comment and are encouraged to leave your web address, create links of any value?

Susana S profile image

Susana S 6 years ago Author

Thanks for the share Rich :) Yes, I use a few related high PR blogs for do follow links and make sure I read the article and make an intelligent comment. At the end of the day a link is a link. It is better to get a natural anchored link within text, but these are few and far between, unless you are paying for them.

GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

This is the encyclopedia of links - wow! I must print and learn. Thank you very, Very much!

Susana S profile image

Susana S 6 years ago Author

Thanks Goldie - I like that, "the encyclopedia of links"!

samsons1 profile image

samsons1 6 years ago from Tennessee

voted up & useful + bookmarked! I've looked for nearly three weeks trying to find out how to do some of this. Thanks so much...

Tom_Radford profile image

Tom_Radford 6 years ago from London

I guess the Dofollow thing is pretty obvious now I've read this but it's nice to get a clear idea about how it works and what links are not worth getting.

burningdesire profile image

burningdesire 6 years ago from A little red dot in South East Asia

Hi You are so resourceful!! You always seems to know a lot of things, hope I can learn more from you!!

jayb23 profile image

jayb23 6 years ago from India

I have bookmarked this hub. Thanks for this wonderful info. Cheers.

vinividivici profile image

vinividivici 6 years ago

I visited the hub to know about anchor link and i`m satisfied. Thank

my-success-guru profile image

my-success-guru 6 years ago from Upstate NY

Hey Susana S,

Great informative hub! Thumbs up! :)

rakuba 6 years ago


expats profile image

expats 6 years ago from UK

Terrific Hub, well done Susana S.

douglas11 profile image

douglas11 6 years ago from Decatur Il

Great job very informative thanks for the hub

Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 6 years ago from Isle of Man

I am new to HubPages and found your article most informative. Could I please have clarification on one point: Are you saying that you cannot have a link on your hub to your website. And having a link to your website on every hub you write is even a bigger violation of the rules?

Thank you.

Susana S profile image

Susana S 6 years ago Author

Hi Spirit Whisperer - You can put a link to your website on your hubs, but if you put a link on every hub to your website you will probably fall foul of the overly promotional rules. Here are the rules in more detail: http://hubpages.com/faq/#overly_promotional

bawiggins profile image

bawiggins 5 years ago

Thanks so much for the information. I appreciate how informative and in-depth all of it is. This will help me when I'm trying to link to other sites. Thanks again!

htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Nice article ,Thanks

David Warren profile image

David Warren 5 years ago from Nevada

Thank You! I am relatively new here, this and another of your hubs helped me learn some information that I could not seem to follow from The Learning Center on HP. Great work, voted up, useful, and awesome!

Danielle 5 years ago

This is a really nice resource. Thank you for putting all this info in one place. It is frustrating to have to try and chase this info down and getting tidbits here and there. I want to save this for future reference. I especially found the section on backlinking strategies. That was very helpful. Thank you!

pinkytoky profile image

pinkytoky 5 years ago from Singapore

This is the most comprehensive article on links I come across so far. Will need some time to digest the info. Thanks.

Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

I agree with others who have said how useful this hub is and nice it is to have all this info in one spot. I'm bookmarking this for future reference. Thanks for writing this in such a clear, easy to understand style!!

pramodseoindia 5 years ago

Very Nice Posting its a helpful Foe SEO.................

Google Panda profile image

Google Panda 5 years ago from The Zoo

This is a really comprehensive resource. Voted up. I'm doing research to try and see what the future of link building will be after all the Panda updates. What do you think? Will link building not be nearly as important in the coming months and years?

theneverendingstage.com 5 years ago

Very Informative! Well written thank you!

princesswithapen profile image

princesswithapen 4 years ago

This has to be one of the most direct and straight-forward post on links that I've read since a while. It's simple, easy to understand and hits the nail on the head. Just the kind of stuff you'd want while teaching someone the basics. I am sharing this hub hoping that it helps new and established bloggers and publishers alike. Nicely done, Susana.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

Very comprehensive article about links and link building. I had some knowledge of links before reading this but you helped clarified some areas that were confusing or fuzzy to me.

Voted up, useful and interesting.

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I found your helpful Hub when searching "how many links are we allowed to use"? I'm writing a series of 6 Hubs about traveling to one country and would like to link them altogether. That would be 6 links, plus I had previous written 4 Hubs about the same country. I would have a total of 10 internal links to each of the six Hubs.

Oh, My is that too many?

I voted this UP, and I will share for others to learn from.

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