Internal & External Links: An Introduction

7 Minute Read | Digital Transformation

Links, both internal and external, are incredibly important. They not only improve the visibility and ranking of your website, but they also help your customers navigate your site. Plus, Google loves them! In order to have a strong SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategy, you need to know the difference between an internal link and external link – and how to use them.

Internal and External – What’s the Difference?

Put simply, an internal link is a link that points to another page on the same website. Think of it like a ‘crazy wall’. You know those walls in movies/TV shows that are covered in string, newspaper clippings, maps and photographs? That’s your website. Instead of red string, your website is connected by internal links.

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External links, on the other hand, are links from other websites that point to your website (or vice versa). Say for example, you created an awesome thing called the Inbound Marketing Town, a visual map of everything involved in inbound marketing. People might think it’s pretty cool, decide to share it on their website, and then link back to you as the creator. Boom! You’ve got yourself an external link.

There is one thing we should note here, and it’s that there are two types of external links:

  • Dofollow: a ‘Dofollow’ link gives you the much desired link juice, boosts your ‘PageRank’ and helps you rank in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
  • Nofollow: a ‘Nofollow’ link on the other hand, doesn’t boost ‘PageRank’. Don’t ignore them though, because they do a lot more than you think.

Easy, right? But if internal and external links are so simple, what’s the big deal about them then?

Why are Links Important to Google?

Internal and external links are crucial to your website. Like every parent, Google loves them equally and doesn’t pick favourites. Well, maybe a little.

Internal links

You’ve probably already noticed we love internal linking. It’s all over our website and in our blogs. That’s because internal links are invaluable to a business’ website, and for good reason:

  • Site structure: Internal links give structure to your website. The more you have, the better Google or other search engines can crawl and index your website. If your content is linked well, Google’s crawlers will crawl your website faster, your pages will get indexed faster and this will result in better SERP rankings.
  • User experience: Internal links are great for users. They help users navigate your website, and go from one page to the next. If they visit more pages, read more blogs and learn about your business, there’s an increased likelihood that they’ll convert. They get a smooth website experience where the information is readily available and easy to find, and you generate more sales and leads.
  • Spreads ranking power: When one page on your website links to another page, it passes on some authority to that page – increasing the likelihood that the second page will rank in the SERPs. So through links, your pages can help each other rank.

External Links

External links, and backlinks (where another site links to your site) in particular, can significantly improve the chances of your website ranking. They not only significantly improve your Domain Authority, but they drive sales, traffic and leads. They do this because they:

  • Build your online reputation: When a user searches for something, search engines like Google show them the best possible result for their query. Google directs these users to sites that are reliable, popular and backlink rich – because a popular site is more trustworthy and has a good reputation.
  • Improve credibility: Similar to above, external links boost your website’s credibility. If you have backlinks with high domain authorities that are relevant to your site, you build Google’s trust – your website becomes a legitimate player in your industry.
  • Give referral traffic: A good link from a popular blog or website can help you drive traffic. If your product or business is mentioned on a blog or you’ve written a helpful guest article, readers of that blog are incredibly likely to check you out.
  • Build relationships and your brand: External links can help you establish yourself in your industry’s community and grow your brand. As your informative content becomes more well-known in your field, others recognise you as an expert, you earn more backlinks and the cycle continues.

In a nutshell, the more high-quality sites that link back to your website, the more likely you are to rank well in SERPs. So, you know how important internal and external links are and what they are, but how do you start? Get ready, because it’s…

Stop! Linking Time!

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Getting your internal links in order can be a lengthy process. While a complete transformation is your best bet, there are a couple of things you can start actioning with your new content:

  • Link deep:  Everytime you write a new blog or piece of content, link to older blogs or pages. The deeper you link within your website’s site structure, the better.
  • Use anchor text: Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. Instead of seeing the URL of the link, users see text. Don’t stuff your content with keyword anchor texts though. Just use sentence fragments and let it flow naturally. If you’re not sure, check out how we’ve done it in this blog.
  • Use relevant links: Don’t internal link just for the sake of it. Link to content that is relevant and useful. It wouldn’t make sense to link a page about baking brownies to one about boiling carrots – so don’t.

When it comes to external links, there’s this little thing called link building. Link building involves getting other high authority and trustworthy sites to link back to your website. This process can be tricky and take some time, but it’s incredibly rewarding in the long-term.

While you’ll have to stay tuned for our in-depth guide on link building, we’ve got a few simple tips for you in the meantime so you don’t have any weak links.

  1. Avoid spammy sites: You don’t like spammy sites and neither do search engines. Don’t get caught up in link farms (websites with the sole purpose of featuring links to increase rankings) or try to get on any dodgy looking sites.
  2. Start a blog: If you haven’t got one already, then get one! Blogs offer your customers relevant and useful content and offer numerous other benefits. As you become a leader in your industry, people will look to your information and you earn your links.
  3. Guest posts: There are a bunch of sites and blogs that are happy to feature guest posts. Outreach to them, write killer blog posts and earn your links!

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Get Your Linking On

Getting on top of your internal and external links is all about getting the details right. If you understand your site’s structure, have killer content and put the hard work in, you’ll be a linking master in no time.

Still not quite sure how to tackle internal or external links on your own? Drop us a line or two to see how we can help on a larger scale.

Although this is only an introduction, we love getting into the nitty-gritty details. Stay tuned for more, because we’re sticklers for link building and internal links.

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