We don’t often refer to the internet by its original name: the world wide web. We jokingly refer to it as “the interwebs,” but we don’t often think about the practical implications of what that means.
The internet is how we connect to information. It’s how we connect to each other. It’s how we connect to what we’re looking for. The reason Google is such a powerhouse is that it helps find what we’re searching for by looking throughout the vast, interconnected web that is the internet.
Because the internet is a web, links are extremely important. Links are, very simply, the way different content is connected and made easily accessible to users throughout the internet. Both external and internal links are powerful and important in optimizing your site for Google and other search engines.
External links (or backlinks) are links between different websites. One website is sharing content about a topic and there’s another website that also talks about that topic. To make it convenient for the user, the first website links to the second website as a way of providing background, larger context, or a further exploration of the topic.
The most important thing to understand about external links is page authority. Each page on each website has a certain amount of “authority” as far as its ranking on Google. Is the website reputable? Is the content consistently updated? Questions like these are baked into the Google algorithm, determining which pages have the most authority and are the most valued by users.
External links from a site with high page authority transfers some of that authority to your website. You don’t want links from just any old site. You want links from sites with high page authority. That way, you get a boost from not just those users seeing the link and having the opportunity to click on it, but also from Google seeing your site as one that is offering valuable information. That’s the interwebs at work.
Internal links are links between the different pages of your site. For example, on a medical practice website, you might have a section that includes bios of the different doctors and a section of the site that includes descriptions of the services that are offered by the practice. This is a perfect opportunity for internal links.
What if, on every doctor’s bio page, there were a section of links to the services that doctor specializes in? That would provide value to the user as well as give a signal to Google that you understand how to organize your content in a way that makes information easy and intuitive to find. These types of internal links within the content on your own site can boost your ranking within Google as well.
Links Make the Interwebs Go ‘Round
At its most basic form, the internet is a network of linked websites. Sure, if you know exactly what you’re looking for, you can find that exact address and go to it directly. But for most of us, the information we’re looking for is found in this massive web of links, both from site to site and within your site itself.
Links aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. By using them to their fullest, you can increase your ranking in Google and the value you provide to your users.