Outreach Monks

What is an External Link? Tips to Give Links to External URLs

What is an External Link

If you are wondering – what is an external link? Tell me one thing –

Have you ever clicked on a link that whisked you away to a totally different website? That, my friend, is what we call an external link.

These are the digital doorways that connect one website to another, expanding the horizon of what you can discover online.

But why do they matter, you ask? Well, they’re like the references at the end of a research paper, offering you more depth, insights, or just a bit of fun away from the original page.

Curious to see how they work and why they’re so crucial for the web’s vast ecosystem? 

Let’s dive in and explore the world of external links together. Ready to jump through some digital portals?

What is an External Link?

An external link is a hyperlink that points to a page or resource on a different domain than the one where the link exists. 

Unlike internal links, which navigate within the same website, external links lead users to entirely separate websites. 

These links are crucial for web navigation, enabling the exchange of information across the vast expanse of the internet. 

They play a significant role in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), enhancing a site’s credibility and authority by linking to reputable sources.

Why External Linking is Necessary for SEO?

External linking is a cornerstone of effective SEO, enhancing a site’s visibility and authority in the eyes of search engines. Here’s a concise breakdown of its necessity, supported by data:

  • Trust and Authority: Moz’s study shows domains linking to high-authority sites improve in rankings.
  • Referral Traffic: Ahrefs reports that quality external links correlate with increased referral traffic.
  • Connectivity: Being part of the web’s link graph, as noted by Search Engine Journal, boosts visibility and ranking.
  • User Experience: Google prioritizes sites offering valuable external resources, improving user engagement.
  • Diverse Link Profile: SEMrush finds a varied link profile essential for higher rankings.

Through strategic external linking, websites signal their credibility and resourcefulness to search engines, directly impacting their SEO success. This approach not only propels a website’s search engine rankings but also fosters a better internet ecosystem by interlinking valuable content.

Best Practices to Provide Links to External Websites

Providing links to external websites enriches content, offering readers additional insights and resources. It’s a practice that enhances the value and credibility of your website, facilitating a network of information that supports and substantiates your content.

1. Use Descriptive Anchor Text

Using descriptive anchor text is crucial when linking to external websites. It gives users and search engines clear context about the linked content.

Additionally, providing meaningful link descriptions aids users relying on screen readers to understand the purpose of each link without needing to read the surrounding text.

Instead of generic phrases like “click here” or “read more,” anchor text should accurately describe the destination page’s content or purpose.

For example, if linking to an article about sustainable gardening, the anchor text could be “sustainable gardening practices” rather than simply “article.”

This approach not only improves user experience by setting clear expectations but also enhances SEO. It provides search engines with relevant keywords, helping in the accurate indexing and ranking of web pages.

2. Ensure Links Are Relevant to Content

Ensure Links Are Relevant to Content

Ensuring that links are relevant to the content is essential for maintaining the integrity and value of your website.

Links should directly relate to the subject matter of your page or post, offering readers meaningful additional resources that complement or expand upon your content.

For instance, if your article discusses the benefits of meditation, linking to a reputable study on its effects enhances both the article’s credibility and utility.

Irrelevant links can confuse readers and detract from the overall user experience, potentially harming your site’s reputation and search engine rankings.

Therefore, carefully select external links that align with your content’s theme, ensuring they add value and enrich the reader’s understanding.

3. Verify the Credibility of the Source

Verifying the credibility of the source before linking to external websites is essential. This step ensures that the information you’re directing your users to is reliable and trustworthy.

Credible sources are typically recognized by their authoritative presence in their field, peer-reviewed publications, or established trust within the community.

Before including an external link, research the source to confirm its authenticity and relevance. Check for the author’s credentials, the publication date, and if the content is widely cited or recognized in the industry.

Linking to reputable sources not only bolsters the integrity of your content but also protects your site’s reputation. It signals to search engines and users alike that you prioritize quality and accuracy in your information sharing.

4. Use NoFollow for Untrusted Content

Linking to external websites is a common practice, but it’s crucial to do so safely and strategically.

  • rel=”noopener”: This attribute stops the linked page from accessing your page’s context, enhancing security and improving performance. It’s a must-have for opening external links in a new tab.
  • rel=”noreferrer”: Use this also to hide the referrer information from the linked site, adding an extra layer of privacy by not revealing where the traffic originated.
  • rel=”nofollow”: Essential for links to untrusted content, it tells search engines not to pass on your site’s authority to the linked domain, preserving your site’s SEO health.

Simply put, when linking externally:

<a href=”https://example.com” rel=”noopener noreferrer nofollow”>Visit Example</a>

Choose the right mix of rel noopener noreferrer based on the link’s destination and your trust level in the content to protect your site and maintain SEO quality.

5. Avoid Linking to Direct Downloads

When linking to external content, it’s advisable to avoid direct links to file downloads.

This practice ensures users are not taken by surprise by an automatic download, which can be seen as intrusive or potentially unsafe.

Instead, direct users to a landing page where the download is hosted. This page can offer additional information about the file, such as its size, format, and a brief description of its contents.

For instance, rather than linking directly to a PDF, the anchor text could lead to a page where users can choose to initiate the download themselves.

This method respects user autonomy, enhancing trust and security while still providing access to resources.

6. Regularly Check for Broken Links

Regularly Check for Broken Links

Regularly checking for broken links is an essential maintenance task for any website linking to external content. Broken links can lead to a frustrating user experience, as they click on links that lead nowhere.

This practice involves periodically reviewing all external links on your website to ensure they still point to live, relevant pages. Tools like broken link checkers can automate this process, identifying dead links that need attention.

For instance, if a link to a resource on innovative teaching methods no longer works, it should be updated or removed. This not only maintains the integrity of your content but also supports SEO efforts. Search engines penalize sites with numerous broken links, seeing them as neglected or outdated.

Keeping your links current and functional signals to both users and search engines that your site is reliable, up-to-date, and focused on providing value.

7. Limit the Number of Links on a Page

Overloading a page with too many links can overwhelm users. It makes it hard for them to identify which links are most relevant or useful.

A high number of links may also dilute each link’s value. Search engines might view this as an attempt to game SEO rankings, negatively impacting the page’s credibility.

Links should be selected carefully and placed strategically. They should complement the content, guiding users to further valuable information naturally.

By maintaining a reasonable number of links, you ensure that each one is meaningful. This approach improves the website’s integrity and user-friendliness.

8. Use HTTPS Links for Security

Using HTTPS links for security is an essential practice when linking to external websites. HTTPS ensures that the data transferred between the user and the site is encrypted, offering a layer of protection against interceptors and hackers.

This security measure is not just about protecting data; it also boosts user trust. When users see HTTPS in the URL, they feel more confident in the safety of their information.

Moreover, search engines like Google prioritize HTTPS websites in their rankings. This means that using HTTPS links can indirectly improve your website’s SEO performance.

By prioritizing HTTPS links, you not only safeguard your users’ experiences but also enhance your site’s credibility and search engine ranking.

What Google Says About External Links?

Google says it’s cool to link out to other docs for deep dives, but keep it simple when you can. If a quick explanation does the trick, add it in. For the nitty-gritty on things like tech standards or third-party tools, a well-chosen external link is your friend.

Key Tips:

  • Link to ace content that’s directly relevant.
  • Skip the locale in URLs unless it’s a must-have.
  • Let readers choose how to open links—no forcing new tabs unless you give a heads up.
  • Ditch the external link icon. If leaving Google’s realm is a big deal, just say so

And remember, keep your main navigation tidy and within your doc set. If outside info is a must, link from a specific page inside your docs.

Simple, right? Stick to these pointers to make your documentation helpful and user-friendly!

Internal vs. External Links

Internal vs. External Links

Monitor Your Site’s External Links

Keeping an eye on your site’s external links is like making sure all the bridges leading out from your island are safe and sound. Here’s how to do it in simple steps:

  1. Use Tools: There are handy online tools and plugins (like Google Webmaster Tools or Broken Link Checker) that can scan your website and spot any broken or outdated links.
  2. Regular Checks: Set a calendar reminder to manually check your most important external links every now and then. It’s a bit like checking the lights on your car; you don’t want to find out they’re not working when you really need them.
  3. Link to Reliable Sources: Stick to linking out to reputable and stable websites. This lowers the chances of having to deal with broken links later.
  4. Keep an Updates Log: When you add or update external links, jot it down in a log. This way, you have a roadmap of where and when links were added, making them easier to find and check.
  5. Feedback Loop: Encourage your site visitors to report broken links. Sometimes, your audience can be your best scouts.

By keeping tabs on your external links, you ensure your website remains a reliable resource hub for your visitors. It’s all about making sure those bridges are always good to cross!


An external link is basically a gateway from your website to another corner of the internet. Think of it as your site giving a high-five to another site. It’s a way to say, “Hey, check this out for more cool stuff!”

Whether it’s for extra details, backing up your facts, or showing off some cool resources, these links are your digital way of playing nice with others. 

But just like inviting friends over, you want to make sure they’re the kind of guests your visitors will appreciate.

Use them wisely, check on them like you would on a plant (they need care, too!), and always aim for links that make your site look good by association. 

External links are not just connections; they’re bridges to the wider world of info out there. Keep ’em strong, relevant, and helpful!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use external links on my website?

External links enrich your content, providing readers with additional information and improving your site's credibility and SEO.

Can external links affect my website's SEO?

Yes, positively! High-quality external links can boost your site's authority by showing search engines that you reference reputable sources.

How do I choose which sites to link to?

Opt for reliable, authoritative sites relevant to your content. This enhances trust and value for your readers.

Should I worry about linking to competitors?

It's a strategic choice. Linking to competitors can show confidence in your content, but always prioritize your audience's benefit.

How often should I check my external links?

Regularly! Broken links can harm your site's user experience and SEO. A monthly check is a good practice to ensure all links work correctly.

Ekta Chauhan

Ekta Chauhan

Ekta is a seasoned link builder at Outreach Monks with six years in the digital marketing trenches, specializing in the SaaS niche. Professionally, she’s a wizard at navigating multiple niches with finesse. On the personal side, despite her calm and quiet nature, don't be fooled—Ekta's creativity means she’s probably plotting to take over the world.


Outsource your link building Now!