As a blog reader, have you noticed that often you’re reading a particular post, and all of a sudden you find you’re somewhere else – either on another post written by the same blogger, or on an entirely different blog! Sometimes, you land on a totally different site. This happens not just in the blogosphere, but also on other social media sites. While this may be useful at times, more often than not it’s irksome… because whatever it is you were reading is now either ‘lost’, or you have to hit the ‘back’ button ever so often to return to the page you were originally reading. This occurs when you click on a hyperlink – either knowingly, or inadvertently – that immediately transposes you to another domain, or another webpage. That link which pulled you away from the current page is the outbound link. As an example, I’m taking you to this webpage outside of wordpress. If you clicked on it, notice that it opens up in another window. This is intentional, because I’d like you to continue reading this page (although the other page offers something delicious!). ヅ This link is an example of an ‘outbound‘ link. Does it add value to my site i.e. this page? Well, that is a function of how the algorithms of Google, Bing, or Yahoo will mark this page – add points, or give negative points – so as to bury my page among the billions of pages so it is almost never found by someone searching for the topic on Links in the context of search engine optimization.
However, in contrast, if say you have a page on this subject, and decide to link to this page or any other with related content from my posts on this blog, that would be an example of a ‘back‘ link for my blog. Now, depending on whether your content and my content have relevant content and there’s an obvious reason why the link exists, once again, the algorithms of the search engines (smart as they are) may figure out the likeness of content along with the context and give us both a positive mark. However, if the search engine finds that some spam-filled page stuffed with keywords is linking to me, neither will that page earn any point, nor will mine. This would be an example of ‘cheese tactics‘ by the spam website. Of course, note that I borrowed this phrase from the gaming industry. But as the phrase connotes, it’s a cheap tactic used to garner clicks, that no respectable SEO expert would dare to use.
But what about ‘cross-links‘ within your own website? Often, when you’re on a company’s website, you may be reading say the About Us page. You may find a link on that very page which will transpose you to another page e.g. their Press Center, or their Contact Us page or even to an email id e.g. email@example.com. Then when you click on that Press Center, in turn it will have a page with yet another link which takes you to some other page but within the same company’s website, say e.g. on their product page… or think of an e-commerce site like Amazon. When you visit this shopping portal, it is hard to really exit from the site, because of the numerous links which will keep drawing you back to look and search and browse more and more and more of their various products. Not only are the links relevant, they are not filled with spam; also, you clicked on these, because something on the page draws you to them, compelling you to click and click again. Eventually you end up shopping, and your click has now brought about a conversion! Isn’t that the objective of for-profit businesses? In the shortest possible time, with the fewest number of clicks, how can the website or webpage entice you to make a click that will bring about a sale of their product. This in very simple terms is the whole point of search engine optimization, landing page optimization, the value (or lack thereof) of links and cross-links. Not as a company, but as a blogger, I’ll link to one of my own pages here, on words-n-motion. Who knows, may be you will follow me, or subscribe to my blog… that is an example of ‘conversion‘ for a not-for-profit site. 😉