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I have been doing some competition research using Open Site Explorer and I am a bit confused about Internal Links vs. External links reports. Ratios are all over the place when I compare them with my top 4 competitors.

What is a good ration between Internal and external links?

  • I don't think there is one. Just make sure your internal link structure emphasizes important pages (typically in a hierarchical structure) and only link to reputable, quality sites. Ratio and quantities are not important. – John Conde Oct 3 '14 at 17:09
  • @JohnConde Hi John, I request you to explain "typically in a hierarchical structure" Part of your comment. I am unable to understand. – bizima Nov 6 '14 at 6:32
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John is right. In fact, these tools can often confuse people. Some of the metrics seem to be gee-whiz more than anything of value. Any online site like Open Site Explorer seriously lags behind and while this one is one of the very best, the reality is that the entire pool of online sites of this type are poor. The plain truth is, no one knows your link profile better than Google. So poke around and enjoy, but do not take it too seriously. The good news is, all the sites seem to lag about the same. For what it is worth.

In fact, the most accurate online tool I have found to date, is SEMRush. Any of these sites lag and can only estimate metrics, and SEMRush is no different, it is at least a valuable tool even when wrong. It is the only one I look at and would give my hard-earned money to.

As far as internal verses outbound external versus inbound backlinks, there is no ratio. It does not apply. If you are talking about performance, who you link to is important, but there is no rule of thumb on how many. Just make sure you link to quality sites and pages. If you are talking about inbound backlinks, then it does not require too many high quality inbound backlinks to set your site on fire. Even a moderate number of links from moderate quality sites can really speed things up for you. It really does not take much.

To Sum Up:

  • Make sure your site is as good as you can make it (at least right now).
  • Make sure you are cultivating the right users: Higher quality, higher functioning. (for organic links)
  • Make sure your site has content people want to link to. Be compelling and of high value. (for organic links)
  • Restrict scraper bots as much as you can. (reduce garbage links)
  • Cultivate backlinks on your own. Be aggressive in your research and gentle in your approach.
  • Forget your competition and just make sure you are doing everything you can.

I found that if I focused on my competition, I am not focusing on what I need to do. It is like looking into the rear-view mirror. I am paying attention to someone else's work and not mine. I am not looking forward. In fact, who is to say their SEO knows what they are doing? I found that I am a far better SEO now that I stopped looking and fretting and focused on my work. I am beating some of the big boys because of it.

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  • Thanks! Very thorough answer. Can you elaborate on "Restrict scraper bots as much as you can."? – dasickle Oct 3 '14 at 20:56
  • There are a bunch of abusers you will see in your web logs. Generally speaking, you will know the good guys- Google, Bing, and so on, but you will also see a bunch of page views in a period of time that cannot be human. For each of those domain names and IP addresses, you want to know who they are. Some are still okay, but some are just bots scraping content. There are, for example, hundreds of site performance web sites that scrape your site and Alexa and make money on that. There are others for links. Some others you definitely should block of course. It takes research. – closetnoc Oct 3 '14 at 23:34
  • I am not sure if you are familiar with blocking accesses with .htaccess in Apache or using a fire wall. I just answered a question with .htaccess examples. If you need help let me/us know. I am here everyday. webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/69601/… – closetnoc Oct 3 '14 at 23:41
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There is no set ratio. It is good practice to have an internal link structure with keyword rich anchor text to emphasize the important pages, but having too many internal links can be confusing and give a poor user experience.

A more beneficial approach would be to have external links pointing to your sites deep inner pages, which will increase Page Authority of those pages and will ultimately increase the Domain Authority of the entire site

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  • A very good succinct answer and technically correct. – closetnoc Oct 4 '14 at 17:04

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