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
- 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 :)
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 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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
- Open the website in a new browser window
- Go find a recent article
- Right click on the page and select View Source.
- A text document should open up in a new window showing the coding for the page.
- Hold down the control button (ctrl) and click F (this will open the find or search box).
- In the search box type rel.
- Click "find next" to search through the pages' coding.
- When you find a "rel" look closely to see if it looks like this: rel="nofollow">
- 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.
- 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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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.