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Inbound Links: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

a diagram explaining inbound and outbound links

If you have a website or blog you probably know that inbound links are important – Google in particular rates high quality inbound links as very important. This is because Google knows that the content of your own website or blog is totally under your control, whereas the content of other websites and blogs is not. Google believes therefore, that if other sites are linking to your site, then your site must be worthy of those links in terms of its content for that to be the case.

But before you go rushing off to talk the world and his wife into linking to your website, you should know that there are good inbound links, bad inbound links and downright ugly inbound links…


Good inbound links are those that carry with them an implied suggestion that your website or blog is worth visiting because it adds value for the user.  There are 3 ways to achieve this:

  1. Links from highly ranked sites like online directories (e.g. & Thomson Local, article directories, (search Google for them) and Squidoo. Simply list your site in directories, write articles and submit them to article directories and set up a Squidoo Lens. All of these will give you free, high quality inbound links.
  2. Links from social networking/bookmarking sites like Digg, Delicious, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Add a social bookmarking button to your pages, (like the one at the bottom of this article) to make it really easy, (and virtually automated) for people to add links to your content from these very highly rated sites. There are literally hundreds of social networking sites. The button I use is available free from AddThis.
  3. Links from other websites that are related to yours in some way by their content. Consider other sites that offer products or services that compliment yours, or perhaps trade organisations.


A few years ago it was standard practice to have a links page on your website and offer reciprocal links to pretty much anyone who wanted them. This is now a sure-fire way to get Google to demote you in their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS), because Google knows that the links have no real value to your site’s visitors and are only really their to gain inbound links and so impress the search engines.


Link farms, link exchanges and pretty much any system that offers to provide you with automated or semi-automated inbound links are an absolute no no. Google especially will penalise you heavily for using them.


In a nutshell, the whole focus for your inbound links should be to get them placed on sites where they add value to the vistors’ experience. The diagram at the top of this page shows you the right way to do it. 

Tags: Google, Hyperlinks, Inbound Links, Link Exchanges, Link Farms, Links, SERPS, Social Bookmarking, Social Networking Links, Yell


Steve is the owner of Small Business Marketing, which is based in North Norfolk in the UK. He is passionate about helping small business owners to improve their web presence and their understanding of how the Internet works. He believes that by doing so, they will improve their businesses.

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