What Are External Links and Why Are They Important for SEO

What Are External Links and Why Are They Important for SEO

External links are hyperlinks that point from one website to another website. In other words, any link directing users away from the current site to another domain is an external link. These outbound links play a crucial role in search engine optimization and are a key factor in achieving high rankings.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what external links are, their benefits, how to acquire them, and some best practices to implement them effectively.

What Are External Links?

As mentioned, an external link simply refers to a hyperlink leading users to another website. For example, if website A has a link directing visitors to website B, this is considered an external link from site A’s perspective.

Specifically, external links typically have the following characteristics:

  • Originate from one domain and point to another domain
  • Lead users away from the current site to an external webpage
  • Often appear as anchor text that users can click on

In essence, any link that guides visitors off the current website to another site is categorized as an external link. This contrasts with internal links, which connect different pages within the same website.

What Is Another Name For An External Link?

External links are also known as outbound links. This term emphasizes the direction of the link – exiting from one domain to another. Understanding this terminology is important in the context of SEO and digital marketing.

Difference of Internal And External Link

Internal and external links serve distinct purposes. Internal links connect pages within the same website, aiding in navigation and distributing page authority. External links, on the other hand, lead to different websites, offering valuable insights or additional resources.

The Benefits of External Links

Obtaining authoritative external links from other reputable sites provides numerous SEO advantages. Here are some of the top benefits of earning strategic external links:

Increase Rankings & Traffic

One of the primary purposes of link building is to acquire backlinks from authoritative sites, which signals search engines that your content is high quality and useful. As you build more relevant backlinks, search engines will favor your content and rankings will steadily improve. Higher rankings lead to exponential increases in referral traffic.

Strengthen Domain Authority

Domain authority refers to the power and trustworthiness of a website. External links from credible sources enhance your overall domain authority in the eyes of search engines. This metric plays a key role in determining search rankings. The more high-quality backlinks you accumulate, the more authority is passed on through those links.

Improve Brand Visibility & Awareness

External links essentially act as “votes” to validate your brand and content to search engines. Authoritative links provide “social proof” that your website offers valuable information worth linking to. This expands brand exposure and awareness as users discover your content.

Diversify Backlink Profile

Search engines analyze a website’s backlink profile when assessing quality and authority. A diversified profile with links from various external sources is ideal, as this appears the most natural. An overly optimized or unnaturally manipulative profile, on the other hand, can raise red flags and penalize rankings.

Increase Organic Traffic Sources

Rather than relying solely on a few dominant referral sites, external links provide multiple stream of organic traffic from different sources. This means your website is less vulnerable if one traffic source experiences issues. A diverse mix of backlinks develops a sustainable long-term traffic strategy.

Given these tremendous benefits, obtaining authoritative external links should be a priority for any effective SEO strategy. But how exactly can you go about acquiring strategic backlinks?

How to Get External Links

Securing authoritative external links takes effort and outreach, but several proven tactics can set you on the path to link building success:

Create Link-Worthy Content

The foundation of any link building approach is developing high-quality, compelling content that provides value. Content that solves problems, satisfies needs, educates, entertains, or informs readers is more likely to attract the natural attention of other websites. Brainstorm content ideas based on what would genuinely help your target audience.

Identify Relevant Sites

Thoroughly research websites, blogs, directories, and other resources that share overlapping topics and target audiences with your site. Make a list of reputable, high-authority sites that would potentially be interested in featuring or linking to your content assets. Prioritize resources that get good engagement and are influential in your niche.

Reach Out Strategically

Once you have a target list, contact the site owners or admins directly and politely request they check out some of your content. Explain how you feel your content would appeal to their readers and provide value. Offer to write guest posts or collaborate on mutually beneficial projects. Relationship building is critical.

Get Active on Social Media

Leverage social platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to connect and network with authoritative figures, brands, and websites in your industry. Social media activity can put you on their radar organically and prompt natural sharing of your content. You can also join relevant Facebook Groups and SubReddits to share content.

Publish Helpful Resources

Develop in-depth, useful resources such as whitepapers, eBooks, templates, infographics, datasets, surveys, and other “lead magnets” with information people really want. Include links back to your website and provide them to external sites as valuable assets for their audiences that also benefit you through links.

Contribute to Online Communities

Actively engage with authority sites by commenting on blogs, participating in forums, answering questions, and providing tips and expertise. Be helpful and add to the discussion. Many sites will link to your website from your profile if you constructively contribute.

Sponsor or Speak at Events

Look for industry conferences, seminars, webinars, and various events to sponsor or speak at. Being featured directly on their website and promotional materials earns powerful backlinks. Establish yourself as a thought leader.

Conduct Link Earning Outreach

Build relationships with webmasters, bloggers, site owners, etc., and eventually directly request links to relevant content. Pitch guest post ideas that benefit their readers. Explain why your content would be a good fit to be featured on their site.

Create Link-Worthy Assets

Develop resources specifically designed to attract links from external sites, such as tools, calculators, quizzes, surveys, interactive maps, data repositories, and other “linkbait” people naturally want to reference and link to.

Best Practices for External Links

When acquiring and placing external links, proper optimization and moderation is key. Here are some best practices to follow:

  • Links should ideally originate from authority sites closely related to your niche, rather than spammy or irrelevant websites. Quality over quantity.
  • Avoid buying links or participating in link schemes expressly for rankings. Search engines can penalize artificial link building tactics.
  • Link to credible, trustworthy resources. Don’t link to “bad neighborhoods” with sketchy practices or poor authority.
  • Vary your anchor text. Links should use natural phrasing, not overtly optimized keywords.
  • Include external links across various pages and sections of your site where relevant and useful. Don’t overload a single page.
  • Use the nofollow attribute for paid links or untrusted sources to disavow them.
  • Monitor your links regularly. Disavow or remove low-quality links.
  • Only link out when it enhances the user experience. Don’t include irrelevant links just for SEO.
  • Make sure links are working. Fix or remove any broken external links.
  • Use 301 redirects if pages being linked to change URLs or get removed to pass authority.

With the right strategy and optimization, high-quality external links can dramatically amplify your search visibility, traffic, and results. Just remember that genuine value, not manipulation, should drive your efforts.

How Do I Know If A Link Is External?

Distinguishing an external link is straightforward. Typically, when you click on an external link, it redirects you to a different website, which is evident from the change in the URL. Additionally, website owners often set external links to open in a new tab or window, further indicating that you are leaving the original site.

How Many External Links Should You Have?

The ideal number of external links on a webpage depends on various factors like the length of the content and its purpose. However, the quality of these links is more critical than their quantity. It’s vital to link to authoritative and relevant sites to provide value to your audience.

Is It Good To Have External Links On Your Website?

Yes. Because external links on a website offer additional resources for readers and improve user experience. They also help in building relationships with other websites and can enhance your site’s SEO.

What Are The Disadvantages Of External Links?

The downside of external links includes the potential loss of website credibility if linked to low-quality sites. They can also distract visitors, leading them away from your content.

How Do I Remove External Links From My Website?

Website owners can remove external links either manually by editing their site’s content or using website management tools. Regular audits are recommended to ensure all external links are relevant and beneficial.

Wrapping Up

External links play a crucial role in digital marketing and SEO strategies. Their strategic application can significantly impact a website’s authority, user engagement, and overall online presence. Understanding and effectively utilizing these links is key to achieving success in the digital world.

If you need help boosting your SEO efforts, consider 427 Digital today!