Published on February 12, 2020 Last modified on February 19, 2021
Link building is basically the process of getting links that point to your website pages to increase visibility and ranking in search engines.
Link building can be external (i.e., acquiring links from other websites pointing to your pages) or internal (i.e., building links from within the pages on your site).
External link building
When a website with high page authority links to your page, it’s a signal to search engines that your website must be of good quality as well.
External link building is the practice of acquiring links from these reputable websites in order for your own authority as a website to increase (primarily in search engines’ eyes) as well.
External link building can also help increase referral traffic to your pages, especially if the website linking to your pages get a huge number of visitors or readers regularly.
Therefore, avoid “building links” in spammy blogs or websites, but instead seek partnership with high-quality websites that are relevant to your industry.
Internal link building
Building links between your own pages helps in a lot of ways—first, visitors can better navigate your site when you have links guiding them to related pages, and second, internal linking helps Google determine which pages are of higher importance within your site (e.g., if more links are pointing to certain pages).
Internal link building can also help with lowering your bounce rate—with internal links located throughout the site, visitors are better encouraged to explore your site further instead of clicking away when they’re done with their current page.
Take care, though, that you don’t get carried away with linking every single part of your content.
Only add links when they make sense and are actually relevant—overcrowding your pages with links can only distract your visitors or readers from the current content.
Follow vs nofollow links
Link building primarily distinguishes between so-called “follow” (or “dofollow”) and “nofollow” links.
Follow and nofollow are link attributes that tell Google’s crawlers how to handle the value of a link from one page to another (i.e., whether Google should “transfer” the PageRank of the source page to the page that it’s linking to).
A follow link means the PageRank value is transferred (in whole or in part—depends on who you ask) from page “A” (source) to page “B” (linked page).
In other words, the link coming from A to B can help improve B’s ranking in search results. If page A has multiple links within the page, the PageRank value is shared among these links.
By default, links are set to follow, which means that your page’s value is automatically transferred to the other pages you’re linking to without any action on your part.
There are some cases, though, where you would need to link to an external site within your content, but not necessarily want to pass that “signal”. Or you’re linking to multiple pages but only want to pass the “link juice” to a certain page.
This is what nofollow links are for.
Nofollow is an HTML attribute that you add to a link (written as rel=”nofollow”), explicitly telling search engines to not pass any PageRank to the link.
This means that no value is transferred from page “A” to page “B”, so the link coming from A to B does not improve B’s ranking in search results. The value of the link coming from A is only measured in the number of visitors that B receives from A.
In most CMS systems, there’s a setting like a checkbox that you can check or uncheck (follow or nofollow) when adding a link.
Aside from follow and nofollow, there are two other less used link attributes: rel="sponsored" for paid links or links used for advertising, and rel="ugc” for links within user-generated content, such as forum posts, etc.