If you want to have a good SEO strategy up and running for your website, then you need to understand the concept of links. More precisely, the difference between internal links and external links, as well as the benefits and case uses of both.
Understanding how each link type works and how it can impact your rankings is key to having a complete search engine optimisation strategy. Luckily for you, in this article, we’ll explain what each type is and give examples of both. We’ll also provide you with some tips on how to make the best out of these links.
So, internal links vs external links: what’s the difference? Let’s find out.
The key difference between internal links and external links is the fact that internal links are used to keep your visitors on your site for longer. In contrast, external links help to improve the overall credibility of your site.
In other words, internal links are basically hyperlinks that point to another page on your website and can be used throughout the content of a page. Here’s an example of an internal link that leads to our SEO services page. External links, on the other hand, are hyperlinks that send readers to other websites.
The purpose behind internal links is a pretty straightforward one. Every website administrator wants their readers to engage more with their website. In this sense, external links might seem counter-productive. However, as you’ll learn later on, they don’t just take people away from your website. They do have a clear purpose.
Here is a more detailed comparison of external links vs internal links:
- Help connect different pages of your website together
- They can help pass link equity throughout your site. Also known as link juice, this refers to the idea that value and authority can pass from one page to another through links
- Can help increase the number of page views per visitor. So, instead of them viewing one or two pages in their visit, they can view 5 instead
- If you manage to use an SEO-optimised anchor text, you can improve the keyword rankings for the target page. We’ll explain this further in the examples section
- Internal links contribute to your on-page SEO
- As the name suggests, they lead users to other website domains
- They can help pass link juice to other websites
- Could lead a visitor away from your website. This is somewhat of a drawback
- They can help improve the keyword rankings of the websites you link
- External linking can help improve your trustworthiness as a brand to a large degree as long as you’re citing authoritative sources, of course
- External links can be a factor for on-page SEO
Here are some examples of internal links vs external links:
An internal link will usually go as follows: https://www.your-domain.com/article-name
And it would look like this in HTML code: <a href=”http://www.your-domain.com/”>Link Anchor Text</a>
For instance, using an internal link in one of our articles would look like this:
[…]for more information on LinkedIn Ads, make sure to check out our guide on them[…]
[…]another commonly used type of ad is the Google Ads Discovery Campaigns[…]
[…]on the topic of features that people don’t know much about, Google Autocomplete can be quite useful for SEO[…]
And lastly, if you’re providing services (like us!) or products, you can simply link to their respective pages in your content. Make sure to do this in a smooth and practical way so that it doesn’t come off as being salesy.
For instance, this article you are reading right now focuses on the impacts of internal and external links on SEO. See what we did there?
An external link will usually go as follows: https://www.external-domain.com/article-name
In HTML, it will have the following code: <a href=”http://www.external-domain.com/”>Link Anchor Text</a>
Assuming you have read some of our articles before, you have probably stumbled upon these links.
Here are some examples from our previous articles:
[…]Research has shown that video ads drive higher sales than static ads.[…]
[…]Research indicated that the number of mobile users worldwide in 2021 is around 7.1 billion, and the numbers are only getting higher and higher. Another revealed that 96% of respondents aged 16 to 24 years in the UK[…]
[…]also known as a CMS. It powers 39.5% of all websites on the internet (as of 2021), and that number is only expected to rise with time[…]
[…]Make sure to check out Bluehost to get a more detailed idea about the different plans it offers.[…]
These links should lead to what people would deem as viable sources. Of course, you don’t want to link to a site representing a business that is directly competing with you. That would be somewhat counter-productive, although enticing at times!
Benefits of each type
The advantages that come with implementing internal links are many, including:
- A better user experience
- A lower bounce rate on your page. For example, let’s assume that your page has value and authority in the eyes of search engines. When you link to another page, some of that value and authority will pass to the linked page. A win-win situation for both you and whomever you link to
- A higher ranking potential throughout the site
- Directions towards the best pages on your website
- An increased number of page views
And here are the numerous benefits of including external links:
- The inclusion of diverse sources related to the topic will benefit the reader
- An improved authority of your website
- A rise in your page rank. PageRank or PR for short is an algorithm used by Google to rank pages in their search engine results. It counts the number and quality of links to a page to determine how important the website is
- The credibility of your content will be enhanced
- Recognition from the sites you’ve linked from and the possibility of getting shared
Here are the best practices that you can follow in regard to implementing internal links in your website’s content:
- Use keyword-rich anchor text for internal links. In other words, you want to try and put the target keyword of the linked page in the anchor text. In layman English, avoid using links that say “click here” or “link”. Instead, try to use your target keywords as hubs for the hypertext, similar to the examples we have provided above.
- Use your most important pages as links. The pages with the highest ROI (return on investment) for your business, for instance, are one kind you should be using more often.
- Use pages you want to rank higher. Having as many links as you could possibly fit will most definitely increase the keyword ranking of your page on Google. It will make it look important and relevant.
- Use other relevant pages. Instead of linking unrelated pages, you should use ones that discuss a similar topic.
- Use as many links as you can in an article. The ideal number of links is one per 200 words on a page. There is no penalty when it comes to linking internally. Actually, it’s ideal for a better user experience.
- Use the links of relevant sites. External links can tell Google a lot about the type of content you’re putting out. They help establish authority and credibility for both your page and the one you link to, especially yours. Additionally, these external links can provide clues to your audience about what sort of subjects the page should be ranked for.
- Don’t use too many external links. Having many external links can be beneficial but having too many can also make you appear as spam. Try limiting yourself to links that are useful and relevant to your readers. The ideal number of external links per page is 3 to 5 links.
- For promotional links, use nofollow links. The nofollow feature is used to indicate to Google that there is no relation between your page and the target page. Relation in the sense that there shouldn’t be any link juice flowing in from one page to the other. It’s best used in instances where external links were paid for or are affiliate links.
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