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What is a Link - Types of Links Explained

Updated on June 11, 2014

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=""> 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= 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.


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    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 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.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 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.

    • princesswithapen profile image

      princesswithapen 5 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.


    • profile image 5 years ago

      Very Informative! Well written thank you!

    • 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?

    • profile image

      pramodseoindia 6 years ago

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

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 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!!

    • pinkytoky profile image

      pinkytoky 6 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.

    • profile image

      Danielle 6 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!

    • David Warren profile image

      David Warren 6 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!

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 6 years ago from United States

      Nice article ,Thanks

    • bawiggins profile image

      bawiggins 6 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!

    • Susana S profile image

      Susana S 6 years ago

      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:

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 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.

    • douglas11 profile image

      douglas11 6 years ago from Decatur Il

      Great job very informative thanks for the hub

    • expats profile image

      expats 6 years ago from UK

      Terrific Hub, well done Susana S.

    • profile image

      rakuba 6 years ago


    • my-success-guru profile image

      my-success-guru 6 years ago from Upstate NY

      Hey Susana S,

      Great informative hub! Thumbs up! :)

    • vinividivici profile image

      vinividivici 7 years ago

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

    • jayb23 profile image

      jayb23 7 years ago from India

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

    • burningdesire profile image

      burningdesire 7 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!!

    • Tom_Radford profile image

      Tom_Radford 7 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.

    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 7 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...

    • Susana S profile image

      Susana S 7 years ago

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

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 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 7 years ago

      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.

    • Rich Cederberg profile image

      Rich Cederberg 7 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?

    • Rich Cederberg profile image

      Rich Cederberg 7 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.

    • Susana S profile image

      Susana S 7 years ago

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

    • lucieanne profile image

      lucieanne 7 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.

    • FindYourSearch profile image

      FindYourSearch 7 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!

    • profile image

      Georgiana85 7 years ago

      Thanks for the help!


    • Dr. Cherie profile image

      Cherie Santasiero PhD 7 years ago from Hamburg, NY

      OMG Thank you!!!!! Bless you!

      What a great hub.

    • Susana S profile image

      Susana S 7 years ago

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

    • FduToit profile image

      FduToit 7 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 7 years ago

      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 :)

    • Dale Mazurek profile image

      Dale Mazurek 7 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 7 years ago

      You're welcome. Thanks for visiting :)

    • WriteAngled profile image

      WriteAngled 7 years ago from Abertawe, Cymru

      Thank you, this is really useful.

    • profile image

      ABHISHEK SEO 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      ABHISHEK SEO 7 years ago

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

    • Susana S profile image

      Susana S 7 years ago

      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 :)

    • bgigstead profile image

      bgigstead 7 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.

    • profile image

      Gabrielle 7 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!

    • Susana S profile image

      Susana S 7 years ago

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

    • sibaja_software profile image

      sibaja_software 7 years ago from Italy

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

    • alvinlim84 profile image

      alvinlim84 7 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 :)

    • Susana S profile image

      Susana S 7 years ago

      Thanks Maria - I hope you shared it ;)

    • profile image

      Maria 7 years ago

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

    • Susana S profile image

      Susana S 7 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      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?

    • 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

    • profile image

      Stock Trading Infocentre 7 years ago

      I learnt something today. Thanks.

    • martycraigs profile image

      martycraigs 7 years ago

      This a great hub explaining links.

    • Chris Eddy111 profile image

      Chris Eddy111 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Best info. and extremely helpful. Thank you.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • profile image

      Nicks 7 years ago

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

    • 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.

    • Susana S profile image

      Susana S 7 years ago

      @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:

      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.

    • 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 ...

    • martycraigs profile image

      martycraigs 7 years ago

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

      thanks for sharing.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      What a wealth of information, Susana, thanks!

    • 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.

    • hypnodude profile image

      Andrea 7 years ago from Italy

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

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 7 years ago from South Wales

      Very useful information, Susana S. Thanks very much.

    • Susana S profile image

      Susana S 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      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

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

    • profile image

      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 ; )