Internal vs. External Links: Everything You Need To Know About Linking
Have you ever thought about why some websites are popular while others are lost in the crowd? A lot of this comes down to how well they use these two types of links.
Did you know a huge 91% of web pages get no visitors because their links are set up wrong? Let’s unwrap the mystery behind these key parts of website linking, and how they can boost your site’s rank.
Get ready to power up your website, increase your online presence, and bring in more visitors. Your adventure in mastering linking starts now!
What Exactly Is Linking?
Linking, in the context of web development and SEO, is the practice of connecting web pages through hyperlinks. These links, serving as digital bridges, can be internal, linking to pages within the same website. And they can be external as well, connecting to different websites.
This process is vital for seamless navigation. It also provides enriched user experience, but also for search engine optimization.
Search engines use these hyperlinks to crawl and index the web, affecting how your website ranks in search results. In essence, linking is a key pillar of the interconnected digital universe.
Importance Of Linking In SEO
In the field of SEO, linking holds a place of paramount importance.
- It’s a tool that search engines use to discover your web pages and determine their rank, enhancing your site’s overall visibility.
- Internal links work like a roadmap. It guides users across your website and improves navigation, which in turn reduces bounce rates.
- ‘Link juice‘, passed through these hyperlinks, boosts the ranking potential of your pages. Receiving links from authoritative, respected sources solidifies your website’s credibility. It helps in bolstering its SEO performance.
- Links also ease the crawling and indexing process for search engine bots, ensuring your pages are recognized and cataloged swiftly.
- Moreover, cleverly placed, relevant internal links encourage visitors to spend more time on your site, increasing engagement.
- Lastly, securing external links on reputable sites is a powerful way to boost your brand’s online visibility and reputation. Remember, when it comes to linking, quality beats quantity every time.
Understanding Types Of Links
Ever wonder how websites are connected to each other? It’s all thanks to links! They are like bridges that help us jump from one webpage to another.
There are different kinds of these bridges. Some stay within the same website, those are internal links. Others go out to different websites, those are external links, and there’s more! Let’s learn about these links and make web surfing a breeze.
Internal links are like hallways in a house. They connect different rooms, or in this case, webpages of the same website. They help us easily find and explore more content on the same site.
External links are like doors leading outside your house. They take you from one website to a different one. It’s like visiting a neighbor’s house to see something new or interesting. There are two types of external links, dofollow and nofollow, which are explained below.
Do follow link:
Do follow links are special types of links that tell search engines, like Google, to follow the path to the other website. These links count as ‘votes’, helping the linked website to rank better in search engine results. It’s a way of saying the content is worthwhile and trusted.
No follow link:
No follow links are like secret passages. They lead to another website, but tell search engines not to count them as ‘votes’ for that website. They’re used when the destination’s trustworthiness is uncertain.
Difference Between Internal And External Links
What Is Internal Linking?
Internal linking is a crucial practice in website management and SEO. Imagine your website as a house, and each page as a room. Internal links are the doors connecting these rooms, allowing you and your visitors to move easily from one to another.
They guide users to related content, improving their experience and increasing the time spent on your site. For search engines, these links are signals, helping bots understand the structure of your website, how pages relate to each other, and which pages hold significant value.
Good SEO internal linking can boost your site’s performance, making pages more accessible to search engines, and distributing ranking power evenly across your site. So, internal links are essential for a well-structured, user-friendly, and search-engine-friendly website.
Importance of internal linking for SEO
- Website Navigation: Internal links act like sign-posts, guiding users through your website. They lead visitors from one page to another, making it easier to explore related content and enhancing user experience – a key factor for SEO success.
- Silo Structure of a Website: Internal links help define a clear and logical site structure. They signal to search engines how pages relate to each other, which ones are main pages (like the home or category pages) and which are secondary, aiding in efficient site crawling and indexing.
- Spreading Link Juice: When a page receives links, it also receives ‘link juice’ or SEO value. Internal links help distribute this value evenly across your website, boosting the ranking potential of various pages and improving your site’s overall SEO performance.
Best practices for internal linking
- Using Descriptive Anchor Text: Anchor text, the clickable words in a link, should be clear and informative. It should give users and search engines an idea about the linked page content, enhancing usability and SEO performance.
- Avoiding Over-Optimization: While links are beneficial, too many can confuse users and search engines. It’s best to use internal links naturally and meaningfully. Overusing keywords in anchor text can also seem manipulative, potentially leading to SEO penalties.
- Linking Deep Within Your Website: It’s wise to link to pages deep in your site structure, not just to top-level pages. Deep linking improves the visibility of lesser-known pages, helps distribute ‘link juice’ evenly, and enhances the user’s navigation experience.
What Is External Linking?
External linking is an important practice in digital content creation. They connect different websites, helping users journey beyond the confines of a single site to explore a broader range of content.
- For your website, including external links to other websites can add depth to your content, providing additional value for your users.
- For search engines, these links help determine the context and quality of your content. When you link to authoritative sources, it signals to search engines that your content is reliable and relevant, which can enhance your site’s SEO performance.
So, external links are essential for creating rich, informative, and trustworthy digital content.
Importance of external linking for SEO
- Providing Additional Resources for Users: External links direct users to additional, useful resources beyond your site. This not only enriches user experience but also enhances the value of your content, which can indirectly boost your SEO performance.
- Boosting Relevancy Signals to Search Engines: When you link to relevant, high-quality sites, it signals to search engines that your content is credible and up-to-date. This can improve your website’s visibility in relevant search results, enhancing your SEO standing.
- Building and Fostering Relationships with Other Websites: External links can help create professional relationships with other sites and brands. This networking can increase your online presence, encourage backlinks, and ultimately contribute to your SEO strategy.
Best practices for external linking
- Linking to Reputable Sources: Always link to trusted, authoritative sources. This practice enhances your content’s credibility and boosts its SEO performance, as search engines value content that references reliable sources.
- Using “No Follow” Attribute Wisely: Use the ‘no follow’ attribute when the credibility of the linked source is uncertain or for paid links. This tells search engines not to pass SEO value to these links, protecting your site’s SEO health.
- Ensuring the Linked Content Adds Value to Your Post: Make sure external links provide additional, relevant information to your users. This enhances user experience and can indirectly improve your site’s ranking by keeping users engaged and providing comprehensive information.
Common Myths and Misconceptions Regarding Linking In SEO
1. Too Many Internal Links Are Bad
There’s a misconception that having too many internal links can lead to penalties from search engines. In reality, internal linking is a good practice as it helps in spreading link equity throughout your site and aids in site navigation. It’s important, however, to make sure these links are relevant and useful to the user.
2. External Links Will Lead Visitors Away from Your Site
While it’s true that an external link can take a user away from your site, it doesn’t mean this practice is harmful. In fact, linking to authoritative, high-quality external sites can add credibility to your content and provide additional value for your users.
3. You Should Always Use “NoFollow” for External Links
Not all external links need to be nofollow. In fact, Google has been clear that linking out, whether it’s a dofollow or nofollow link, to high-quality, relevant sites can benefit SEO. The rel=”nofollow” tag should mainly be used in situations where you can’t confirm the credibility of the linked page or for sponsored links or paid links.
4. You Should Never Link to Competitors
Some believe that linking out to competitors can harm their business by sending potential customers away. However, from an SEO perspective, linking to relevant, high-quality content (even from competitors) can improve your own site’s SEO performance by showing search engines that your priority is to provide value to users.
5. Only Link to High Authority Sites
While linking to high-authority sites can potentially improve your SEO, this doesn’t mean you should exclusively link to these sites. Relevance should be the key factor. A relevant link from a smaller, less authoritative site can be more valuable than a non-relevant link from a high-authority site.
6. Anchor Text Doesn’t Matter for Internal Links
Some people think that the anchor text used for internal links doesn’t matter. However, using descriptive, relevant anchor text can help search engines understand the context of the linked page better, which can aid in improving its search ranking.
7. External Links Leak SEO Value
Some believe that linking out to other websites (external links) drains or “leaks” SEO value from their own site. This concept, known as “PageRank Sculpting,” has been contradicted. Google’s algorithms are complex, and while they do take into account the number and quality of outbound links, they do not punish websites simply for linking to external content.
Tools and Resources for Link Optimization
Just as a craftsman needs the right tools to create masterpieces, we need the right resources to optimize links for SEO.
These tools and resources empower us to monitor, analyze, and improve our linking strategy, paving the way for enhanced website performance. Let’s explore these valuable assets.
Overview of Popular SEO Tools for Link Analysis:
- Tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz can be helpful.
- They give you a peek into your backlink profile, which are the links pointing to your site from others.
- They help find out if any links are broken or not working.
- These tools show where you can improve your linking strategy.
Tips for Using These Tools for Internal and External Link Optimization:
- These tools help clean up both internal and external links.
- They can find pages on your site that could benefit from more links.
- They track how SEO value or ‘link juice’ is spread across your site.
- They help check if the sites you’re linking to are of good quality.
And that’s a wrap! Just like roads in a town, internal and external links help us get around a website. Internal links are like local streets, taking us from one page to another on the same site.
External links are like highways, taking us to a whole different website. Both are super important for making websites easy to use and helping them show up in search engine results.
So, whether you’re making a website or writing a blog, remember to use both kinds of links wisely!
Frequently Asked Questions
How many internal and external links should I have on a page?
There's no hard and fast rule for the number of links a page should have. The important thing is that the links should be relevant and add value for the user. Overloading a page with irrelevant links can lead to a poor user experience.
Should all external links be nofollow?
No not all external links should be nofollow. Use nofollow for links that are paid or sponsored, or in cases where you do not affirm the content of the linked page. When you're linking to trustworthy and relevant sites, a dofollow link is suitable.
What is anchor text and why does it matter?
Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. In terms of SEO, it is important because search engines use it to determine the subject matter of the linked page. It is best practice to make your anchor text descriptive and relevant to the linked content.
Can too many external links negatively affect my site?
Having too many external links on a page can dilute the page's content and lead to a poor user experience, especially if the links are not directly relevant to the content. This could potentially negatively impact your site's SEO. The key is to strike a balance and ensure all links add value for your users.