What are Inbound Links? A Quick Guide

With Google recently launching its Penguin update to target manipulative link-building strategies, keeping the content on your website high-quality has become a little trickier — according to Google's algorithm, at least. Who made these manipulative links? Cruella?

It's more important than ever to be aware of the different kinds of links that content might have as well as when and how to use them.

Inbound links are one such type. Your WP Guy can keep you informed about your inbound links. As well as help execute the proper strategies to make sure they're valuable for your readers (and for Google).

What are inbound links? A quick guide - woman holding cigarette with a black and white wig on - your wp guy - Building inbound links is one of the best investments for improving organic search rankings. Learn what they are, how they're built, and more in this SEO guide.

What Are Inbound Links?

The first thing you need to do is understand the answer to the question, "what are inbound links exactly?"

Inbound links come from an external site to yours. INCOMING!

They usually link from a related piece of content to something you might have written or advertise your product or service mentioned in the anchor text (the linked text).

Why Use Them?

There are a few reasons to use inbound links. Maybe even 101 but you can’t narrow down to one because they're all important!

To Get Traffic on Your Site

The first reason to build inbound links coming to your website is simple — to direct traffic to your website. If another site is mentioning something that's relevant to your company, it's great to have a reader directed back to you. Like attracts Like!

What are inbound links? A quick guide - dalmation puppy, white dog with black spots - your wp guy - Building inbound links is one of the best investments for improving organic search rankings. Learn what they are, how they're built, and more in this SEO guide.

To Promote Sales


If you sell services or products on your website, inbound links from other sites can help to generate these.

For example, if someone is writing a blog post on dog training on another site and you sell supplies such as clickers or comfortable harnesses, they could link back to your site from theirs. Even if the consumer wasn't directly searching for that product, they might be tempted to buy it. GO GET EM BOY!

For Search Engine Optimization Purposes

The last — and perhaps more important reason — is for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes.

If you have inbound links coming to your website, Google's algorithm will decide that your website is more authoritative and trustworthy. The more inbound links you have coming from good sources, the higher you're likely to rank on Google.

How Do You Build Them?

So now that you know what inbound links are, how do you get some?

Ask Suppliers

If you sell products on your online store, ask the manufacturers of those products to link to you on their website. Often people will hit the manufacturer's website before they come to yours, and finding a place to actually buy the product is their goal. You want to be the top choice even if a number of different stores sell those products. Its like speed dating but with links!

Content Marketing

You can create inbound links without asking for favors from others. Create supporting sites for your service. For example, if you sell nutritional supplements, creating a blog with content surrounding them can help to link back to the actual products themselves. Now that’s supplemental.

Work With Bloggers

Of course, there are already some super established bloggers out there with high-ranking websites.

You can work with them to get inbound links back to you. For payment or a gift, they may be willing to review your product or simply mention it in a related post.

Give Back

Because inbound links generally require working with other people, you should make sure you're giving back and offer some outbound links too. This will help you build a good relationship with other companies and they may be willing to be more generous in promoting your content or products.

Common Inbound Link Mistakes

It's not just as easy as stuffing in as many inbound links as you can find. There are some common mistakes people make with their inbound link building that you should generally avoid.

Changing URLs

When someone has linked to a page on your site, you should try to avoid changing the URL. Even if you set up a redirect, this can end up causing a loop, and Google generally won't like that. It can ruin all the rankings you had on that page.

Low-Authority Sites

While it's great to have as many links as possible, you should do your utmost to make sure they're coming from high-authority sites.

If they're sites that Google might deem as spam, they won't help you.

Some reasons Google might not like them include:

  • Stuffing too many links in a single page
  • Having a slow page load time
  • They have too many broken links there already

It's a good idea to examine sites and see exactly what the quality of content is before you ask them to link back to you.

Irrelevant Links

It's important not to frustrate traffic coming to you and ensure the links are relevant — otherwise, people will click off the page within seconds and that can damage you more than help. It might be tempting to stuff links in where there's only slight relevance, but try to make sure they're authentic and can genuinely help.

Why Are Inbound Links Important to Your Small Business?

Inbound links can help ensure your website is visible on search engines and appears at the top of relevant queries. It's like having a hidden treasure chest of SEO gold - when leveraged properly, inbound links can be incredibly valuable for driving traffic back to your site.

For small businesses with limited budgets, inbound links provide a pathway to your website at no additional cost. Plus, inbound links can help small businesses gain credibility as customers and other websites recognize your content as being worthy of linking to from their own sites. 

Inbound Links Are a Great Marketing Strategy

Inbound links are great for marketing. Although you can do a lot on your own to increase the credibility of your website and help SEO, involving other websites is huge for your Google rankings — and when it comes to traffic, you might find most of it comes from organic sources.

Do you need help with your inbound link-building strategy or other aspects of SEO and marketing? Your WP Guy is here to help! Schedule a consultation today and let's see how we can get traffic flowing to your website.

What are Inbound Links? A Quick Guide

• Understanding inbound links and their relevance is key to successful SEO.

• Inbound links come from external sites and are generally linked to related content or anchor text.

• Using inbound links can generate traffic, promote sales, and improve your website's search engine ranking.

• To build high-quality inbound links, one should ask suppliers, create content marketing material, work with bloggers, give back by offering outbound links, avoid changing URLs of inbound sites and linking to low-authority sites with too many broken links.

How do I know if my website has quality inbound links?

How do I know if my website has quality inbound links?

Quality inbound links can significantly impact your website's SEO and overall visibility. To determine if your website has quality inbound links, you should consider the following factors:

  1. Source Authority: Check the authority and credibility of the websites linking to yours. Links from well-established and reputable websites hold more value than those from low-quality or spammy sites. Tools like Moz's Domain Authority or Ahrefs' Domain Rating can help you assess the authority of linking domains.

  2. Relevance: Ensure that the websites linking to you are relevant to your niche or industry. Links from websites with content related to your own are more valuable in the eyes of search engines.

  3. Anchor Text: Analyze the anchor text used in the inbound links. Ideally, it should be descriptive and relevant to your content or keywords. Natural, non-spammy anchor text is more likely to benefit your SEO.

  4. Link Diversity: A diverse portfolio of inbound links is essential. Having links from various sources, such as blogs, news articles, and industry directories, adds credibility and authority to your website.

  5. Link Placement: Consider where the links are placed within the content. Links within the main body of an article or on highly visible parts of a webpage are typically more valuable than links buried in footers or sidebars.

  6. Linking Page's Quality: Evaluate the quality of the page from which the link originates. A link from a well-optimized, high-quality page carries more weight than one from a poorly designed or spammy page.

  7. Number of Inbound Links: While quality is crucial, having a reasonable quantity of inbound links is also important. A website with too few inbound links may appear less authoritative to search engines.

By assessing these factors, you can gauge the quality of your inbound links and make informed decisions about your link-building strategy. Remember that building high-quality inbound links takes time and effort, but the benefits for your website's SEO and visibility are well worth it.

Are there any tools or strategies to help monitor and improve inbound links?

Are there any tools or strategies to help monitor and improve inbound links?

Absolutely! Monitoring and improving your inbound links is an ongoing process that can greatly benefit your website's SEO. Here are some tools and strategies to help you with this:

Tools for Monitoring Inbound Links:

  1. Google Search Console: This free tool from Google provides valuable insights into your website's performance in search results, including information about inbound links. You can see which websites are linking to you, the pages they link to, and the anchor text used. It also alerts you to any potential issues with your inbound links.

  2. Ahrefs: Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO tool that offers in-depth backlink analysis. It provides data on the number of referring domains, the authority of those domains, and the anchor text of inbound links. You can also monitor your competitors' backlinks to gain insights and ideas for your own link-building strategy.

  3. Moz Link Explorer: Moz's tool offers similar features to Ahrefs, allowing you to analyze your backlink profile, track your link-building progress, and identify opportunities for improvement.

Strategies for Improving Inbound Links:

  1. Content Creation: Producing high-quality, valuable content is one of the most effective ways to attract natural inbound links. When your content is informative, unique, and relevant to your target audience, other websites are more likely to link to it.

  2. Outreach and Guest Posting: Reach out to other websites and bloggers in your niche to propose guest posts or collaborations. By contributing valuable content to their platforms, you can earn inbound links back to your website.

  3. Broken Link Building: Identify broken links on other websites within your niche and offer your content as a replacement. This strategy not only helps them fix their broken links but also provides you with an opportunity to gain new inbound links.

  4. Social Media Promotion: Share your content on social media platforms to increase its visibility. When others see your content and find it valuable, they may link to it from their own websites or blogs.

  5. Email Outreach: Send personalized outreach emails to website owners or bloggers who might be interested in your content. Explain how your content can benefit their audience and why they should consider linking to it.

  6. Link Reclamation: Regularly check for mentions of your brand or website that don't include a link. Reach out to the author or website owner and politely request that they add a link to your site for reference.

Remember that building and maintaining high-quality inbound links is a gradual process. It requires patience, persistence, and a commitment to providing value to your audience and the websites linking to you. By using the right tools and implementing effective strategies, you can strengthen your website's SEO and online presence.

Can I buy inbound links to boost my website's SEO?

Can I buy inbound links to boost my website's SEO?

While it may be tempting to purchase inbound links to quickly boost your website's SEO, it's essential to understand that buying links is generally considered a violation of search engine guidelines and can lead to severe consequences, including penalties from search engines like Google. Here's why you should avoid buying inbound links:

  1. Search Engine Penalties: Search engines, particularly Google, have sophisticated algorithms that can detect unnatural link patterns, including purchased links. When search engines identify such practices, they often penalize websites by lowering their search rankings or even removing them from search results.

  2. Low-Quality Links: Many services that sell inbound links provide low-quality links from spammy or irrelevant websites. These links not only fail to benefit your SEO but can also harm your website's reputation.

  3. Risk of Deindexing: If your website is caught buying links, it may be deindexed or removed from search engine results entirely. Recovering from such a situation can be challenging and time-consuming.

  4. Short-Term Gains, Long-Term Risks: While buying links may provide a short-term boost in search rankings, the risks associated with this practice far outweigh any potential benefits. It's not a sustainable or ethical SEO strategy.

Instead of buying links, focus on building natural, high-quality inbound links through legitimate means, as mentioned in previous responses. By creating valuable content, engaging with your target audience, and fostering relationships within your industry, you can earn genuine inbound links that will enhance your website's SEO in a safe and sustainable way. Remember that SEO is a long-term investment, and ethical practices will yield the best results over time.

How can I disavow harmful or spammy inbound links to my website?

How can I disavow harmful or spammy inbound links to my website?

Disavowing harmful or spammy inbound links is an essential step in maintaining a healthy backlink profile and protecting your website's SEO. Google provides a tool called the "Disavow Links" tool that allows website owners to disavow links they believe are harmful or unnatural. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use this tool:

  1. Identify Harmful Links: Before using the Disavow Links tool, you need to identify the links that you want to disavow. You can use tools like Google Search Console, Ahrefs, or Moz to find suspicious or low-quality links pointing to your site.

  2. Create a Text File: Open a plain text editor like Notepad and create a new text file. In this file, list the URLs of the harmful links you want to disavow, one URL per line. You can also include entire domains by using the "domain:example.com" format.

  3. Format the Disavow File: You can add comments to the file by using a "#" symbol at the beginning of a line. For example, you can add comments to explain why you're disavowing certain links. Here's an example:

    # Disavow harmful links
  4. Save the File: Save the text file with a .txt extension, such as "disavow.txt."

  5. Access Google's Disavow Links Tool: Go to Google's Disavow Links tool at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main.

  6. Select Your Property: Choose the website property you want to disavow links for.

  7. Upload the Disavow File: Click the "Disavow Links" button and select the disavow.txt file you created.

  8. Confirm and Submit: Review the information and confirm that you want to disavow the listed links. Then, click the "Submit" button.

It's important to note that disavowing links should be done with caution, as it tells Google to ignore those links when assessing your website's SEO. Only disavow links that you are certain are harmful or unnatural, and avoid disavowing legitimate, high-quality links.

After submitting the disavow file, it may take some time for Google to process the request and reflect the changes in your website's SEO rankings. Regularly monitor your backlink profile to ensure that it remains healthy and free from harmful links.

How can I encourage other websites to link to my content?

How can I encourage other websites to link to my content?

Encouraging other websites to link to your content is a valuable strategy for improving your website's SEO and increasing its online visibility. Here are several effective ways to attract natural inbound links:

  1. Create High-Quality Content: The foundation of earning inbound links is to produce exceptional, informative, and engaging content. High-quality content is more likely to be referenced and linked to by other websites.

  2. Promote Your Content: Once you publish a new piece of content, promote it through various channels, including social media, email newsletters, and industry-specific forums or communities. The more people see your content, the greater the chances of it being shared and linked to.

  3. Engage with Your Audience: Interact with your audience through comments on your website, social media, or email. Answer questions, respond to feedback, and build a community around your content. Engaged audiences are more likely to share and link to your content.

  4. Collaborate with Influencers: Identify influencers or thought leaders in your industry and build relationships with them. Influencers can amplify your content by sharing it with their followers and potentially linking to it from their websites or blogs.

  5. Guest Blogging: Offer to write guest posts for reputable websites within your niche. In your guest posts, provide valuable insights and link back to relevant content on your own website. This can generate inbound links and introduce your content to a new audience.

  6. Participate in Industry Events: Attend conferences, webinars, or virtual events related to your field. Networking at these events can lead to opportunities for others to mention or link to your website in their event summaries or articles.

  7. Create Visual Content: Visual content, such as infographics, videos, and interactive tools, tends to be highly shareable. Invest in creating visual content that provides unique insights or solves common problems within your industry.

  8. Publish Original Research: Conduct original research and publish the findings on your website. Unique research reports or studies can attract attention from other websites, especially if the data is valuable to your industry.

  9. Offer Free Resources: Provide valuable resources, such as ebooks, templates, or toolkits, for free on your website. Encourage users to share these resources, which can lead to natural inbound links.

  10. Monitor Your Brand Mentions: Use tools like Google Alerts or social media monitoring tools to track mentions of your brand or website online. When you discover unlinked mentions, reach out to the authors and kindly request that they link to your website.

By consistently implementing these strategies, you can increase the chances of other websites recognizing your valuable content and linking to it naturally, ultimately boosting your website's SEO and online presence.

How can I measure the effectiveness of my inbound link-building efforts?

How can I measure the effectiveness of my inbound link-building efforts?

Measuring the effectiveness of your inbound link-building efforts is crucial to understanding their impact on your website's SEO and overall online presence. Here are some key metrics and methods to help you assess the success of your link-building campaigns:

  1. Referral Traffic: Monitor the amount of traffic coming to your website from the links you've built. Use web analytics tools like Google Analytics to track referral traffic from specific sources or domains. An increase in referral traffic indicates that your inbound links are driving visitors to your site.

  2. Keyword Rankings: Keep an eye on your website's keyword rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs). An improvement in rankings for target keywords can be a sign that your link-building efforts are positively affecting your SEO.

  3. Backlink Metrics: Use SEO tools like Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMrush to track the growth of your backlink profile. Look for an increase in the number of referring domains and the overall authority of those domains. A healthy backlink profile should show growth over time.

  4. Conversion Rate: Assess how inbound traffic from specific links is converting on your website. Track metrics like conversion rate, lead generation, or e-commerce sales attributed to visitors from particular inbound links. This information can help you determine the quality of traffic generated by those links.

  5. Bounce Rate: Examine the bounce rate of visitors arriving from inbound links. A lower bounce rate indicates that visitors are finding your content relevant and engaging. High-quality links should drive traffic that engages with your site.

  6. Dwell Time: Dwell time measures how long visitors spend on your website after clicking an inbound link. Longer dwell times suggest that your content is holding the attention of visitors, which can positively impact SEO.

  7. Social Shares: Assess the social sharing of your content linked from external sources. High-quality content tends to get shared more often on social media platforms. Social signals can indirectly influence SEO rankings.

  8. Link Outreach Success Rate: If you've conducted outreach to build links, track the success rate of your outreach efforts. Measure how many outreach emails or requests resulted in new inbound links. This can help you refine your outreach strategy.

  9. Competitor Analysis: Compare your backlink profile and SEO performance to that of your competitors. Identify areas where your competitors excel in link-building and SEO, and seek opportunities to match or surpass their efforts.

  10. Return on Investment (ROI): Evaluate the ROI of your link-building campaigns by considering the cost of your efforts (e.g., content creation, outreach, tools) versus the value gained in terms of increased traffic, leads, or sales.

Regularly analyze these metrics and adjust your link-building strategy accordingly. Keep in mind that link-building is an ongoing process, and the effectiveness of your efforts may not be immediately apparent. Over time, a well-executed link-building strategy should contribute to improved SEO and overall website performance.

Is it possible to have too many inbound links to my website?

Is it possible to have too many inbound links to my website?

Yes, it is possible to have too many inbound links to your website, and it's important to maintain a balanced and natural backlink profile. While having a diverse range of high-quality inbound links is generally beneficial for SEO, an excessive number of links, especially low-quality or spammy ones, can lead to issues. Here's why you should avoid an overabundance of inbound links:

  1. Quality Over Quantity: Search engines, like Google, prioritize the quality and relevance of links over their quantity. A smaller number of high-quality links from authoritative sources is more valuable than numerous low-quality links.

  2. Risk of Penalties: If search engines detect that your website is accumulating an unusually high number of spammy or unnatural links, they may impose penalties. These penalties can result in lower search rankings or even deindexing from search results.

  3. Dilution of Link Equity: Having too many inbound links can dilute the "link equity" or authority passed from one page to another. This can potentially diminish the impact of valuable links.

  4. Unnatural Link Patterns: An excessive number of links, particularly if they appear suddenly or have no clear relevance to your content, can raise red flags with search engines. They may view such patterns as manipulative link-building tactics.

To maintain a healthy backlink profile, regularly audit your inbound links to identify and disavow harmful or low-quality links. Focus on building high-quality, relevant links through ethical and natural means, as discussed in previous responses. Quality inbound links from authoritative sources that genuinely enhance your content and user experience should be the primary goal of your link-building efforts.

How can I recover from a Google penalty related to inbound links?

How can I recover from a Google penalty related to inbound links?

Recovering from a Google penalty related to inbound links can be challenging but is possible with the right approach. If you suspect that your website has been penalized due to unnatural or manipulative inbound links, follow these steps to begin the recovery process:

  1. Identify the Penalty: The first step is to confirm whether your website has indeed been penalized. You can check Google Search Console for any manual actions or messages regarding penalties. Look for notifications related to unnatural links or link-related issues.

  2. Audit Your Backlink Profile: Conduct a comprehensive audit of your website's backlink profile. Use tools like Google Search Console, Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMrush to identify harmful or low-quality inbound links. Pay attention to links from spammy websites, paid links, or excessive exact-match anchor text.

  3. Disavow Harmful Links: Create a disavow file containing the URLs or domains of the harmful links you've identified during the audit. Follow the steps outlined in a previous response to submit the disavow file through Google's Disavow Links tool.

  4. Remove Unnatural Links: If possible, reach out to webmasters of websites linking to you with unnatural or spammy links and request link removal. Keep a record of your communication attempts. Google prefers seeing genuine efforts to clean up your link profile.

  5. Improve Your Content and Website: Take this opportunity to enhance the quality and relevance of your website's content and user experience. High-quality content attracts natural, valuable inbound links. Optimize on-page SEO elements and improve user engagement.

  6. Submit a Reconsideration Request: If you believe you've addressed the issues causing the penalty, submit a reconsideration request through Google Search Console. Be transparent in explaining the actions you've taken to rectify the problem and prevent future issues.

  7. Be Patient: Google's reconsideration process can take time. Be patient and continue to monitor your website's performance and rankings. Continue to focus on ethical and natural link-building practices.

  8. Avoid Future Penalties: To prevent future penalties related to inbound links, adhere to Google's Webmaster Guidelines and best practices for link-building. Prioritize quality over quantity and avoid any manipulative tactics.

  9. Stay Informed: Stay updated on changes in search engine algorithms and SEO best practices to ensure your website remains in compliance with current guidelines.

Recovering from a Google penalty related to inbound links requires diligence, transparency, and a commitment to ethical SEO practices. It's essential to address the root causes of the penalty and take steps to build a clean and natural backlink profile over time.

Are there any tools or services that can help with managing inbound links and monitoring link-building efforts?

Are there any tools or services that can help with managing inbound links and monitoring link-building efforts?

Certainly, several tools and services can assist you in managing inbound links, monitoring your link-building efforts, and maintaining a healthy backlink profile. Here are some recommended tools and services:

Tools for Managing Inbound Links:

  1. Google Search Console: This free tool provides valuable information about your website's performance in search results, including data on inbound links. You can track which websites link to yours, monitor changes in your backlink profile, and receive alerts about potential issues.

  2. Ahrefs: Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO tool that offers in-depth backlink analysis. It provides data on the number of referring domains, the authority of those domains, anchor text analysis, and more. Ahrefs also offers features for tracking competitor backlinks.

  3. Moz Link Explorer: Moz's tool allows you to analyze your backlink profile, track the growth of your links, and identify opportunities for improvement. It provides domain authority metrics and spam score analysis.

  4. Semrush: Semrush offers backlink analysis features, including the ability to monitor your backlink profile, identify toxic backlinks, and track the progress of your link-building campaigns. It also provides competitive analysis tools.

Services for Link-Building and Monitoring:

  1. Link-Building Agencies: Consider hiring a reputable link-building agency that specializes in creating high-quality, ethical inbound links. These agencies often have established relationships with publishers and can execute effective link-building strategies on your behalf.

  2. SEO Consultants: An experienced SEO consultant can provide guidance on link-building strategies, help with link audits, and offer recommendations to improve your backlink profile.

  3. Content Marketing Services: Content marketing agencies can assist in creating valuable content that naturally attracts inbound links. They can also help with content promotion to maximize link-building opportunities.

  4. SEO Software Platforms: Some SEO software platforms offer link-building and backlink monitoring as part of their suite of tools. These platforms often provide a comprehensive solution for managing your website's SEO performance.

  5. Outreach Services: If you engage in outreach-based link-building, you can use outreach services to automate and streamline the outreach process. These services often provide templates, email tracking, and follow-up reminders.

  6. Backlink Auditing Services: To ensure the health of your backlink profile, consider using backlink auditing services that can identify harmful or toxic links and help you remove or disavow them.

When selecting tools or services, it's essential to choose those that align with your specific needs and budget. Additionally, ensure that any link-building practices adhere to ethical SEO guidelines to avoid potential penalties. Regularly monitoring and managing your inbound links is a crucial aspect of maintaining a strong online presence and SEO performance.