Google Webmaster Central Tips: Pros and Cons of Inbounds Links

Oct 13, 2008 | 2,856 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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A couple of days ago, we discussed about the importance of outbound links and inbound links in one of our blogs called "Link Education Straight From Google!"

Now one of the hottest topics of discussion in today's web world is the pros and cons of “Inbound Links.” A lot of people think that these links are useful in generating immense traffic for their websites! To a certain extent, the point is true also… Let us have a look as to what the official Google Webmaster Central Blog has to say on this:

“Inbound links are links from pages on external sites linking back to your site. Inbound links can bring new users to your site, and when the links are merit-based and freely-volunteered as an editorial choice, they're also one of the positive signals to Google about your site's importance. Other signals include things like our analysis of your site's content, its relevance to a geographic location, etc. As many of you know, relevant, quality inbound links can affect your PageRank (one of many factors in our ranking algorithm). And quality links often come naturally to sites with compelling content or offering a unique service.

How do these signals factor into ranking?

Let's say I have a site, example.com, that offers users a variety of unique website templates and design tips. One of the strongest ranking factors is my site's content. Additionally, perhaps my site is also linked from three sources — however, one inbound link is from a spammy site. As far as Google is concerned, we want only the two quality inbound links to contribute to the PageRank signal in our ranking.

Given the user's query, over 200 signals (including the analysis of the site's content and inbound links as mentioned above) are applied to return the most relevant results to the user.

inbound link Google Webmaster Central Tips: Pros and Cons of Inbounds Links

So how can you engage more users and potentially increase merit-based inbound links?

Many webmasters have written about their success in growing their audience. We've compiled several ideas and resources that can improve the web for all users.

Create unique and compelling content on your site and the web in general

  • Start a blog: make videos, do original research, and post interesting stuff on a regular basis. If you're passionate about your site's topic, there are lots of great avenues to engage more users.

    If you're interested in blogging, see our Help Center for specific tips for bloggers.
  • Teach readers new things, uncover new news, be entertaining or insightful, show your expertise, interview different personalities in your industry and highlight their interesting side. Make your site worthwhile.
  • Participate thoughtfully in blogs and user reviews related to your topic of interest. Offer your knowledgeable perspective to the community.

Provide a useful product or service. If visitors to your site get value from what you provide, they're more likely to link to you.
For more actionable ideas, see one of my favorite interviews with Matt Cutts for no-cost tips to help increase your traffic. It's a great primer for webmasters. (Even before this post, I forwarded the URL to many of my friends. icon smile Google Webmaster Central Tips: Pros and Cons of Inbounds Links

Pursue business development opportunities

Use Webmaster Tools for "Links > Pages with external links" to learn about others interested in your site. Expand the web community by figuring out who links to you and how they're linking. You may have new audiences or demographics you didn't realize were interested in your niche. For instance, if the webmasters for example.com noticed external links coming from art schools, they may start to engage with the art community — receiving new feedback and promoting their site and ideas.

Of course, be responsible when pursuing possible opportunities in this space. Don't engage in mass link-begging; no one likes form letters, and few webmasters of quality sites are likely to respond positively to such solicitations. In general, many of the business development techniques that are successful in human relationships can also be reflected online for your site.” – Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead

After discussing the advantages inbound links has to offer, we must proceed to dwell on some of its drawbacks/cons.

Cons of inbound links

  1. Nature of link building campaigns: One-way Link-building can be a tiresome, frustrating process. You will have to face a lot of rejection before you succeed. Thus you require a substantial amount of fortitude and dedication to build up high quality inbound links.
  2. Elusiveness of effective linkbait: Hundreds of content creators are vying with each-other for links on high-traffic websites. It's difficult to predict what will be popular and what will fail to grab attention. It is thus challenging to create content that hits the right note with bloggers and web users.
  3. Cost Factor. For link building campaigns to be cost-effective one requires an in-house staff. If one wants more from his campaign however, training and motivating several Internet volunteers would become necessary.
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Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
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