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The Ultimate Guide to External Links

April 25, 2023

External links, also known as outbound links, are crucial to a healthy link structure across your website. By adding these throughout your content, it can help your website achieve many benefits, but many businesses don’t like the thought of directing users to another domain. However, this is something Google favours. The search engine giant wants you to offer great content and provide as much information as possible to users…even if that information is not on your website.

In this blog, we explore what external links are, the benefits they can bring as well as how to successfully implement them on your website.

What is an external link?

Unlike internal linking, which are links that direct users towards another page within your domain, external links are links that you place within the content of your site in order to direct users towards more information on the subject at hand. They point towards another domain entirely, taking your visitors away from your website. For example, if you want to read more about what external links are, check out this article from Moz.

Adding external links throughout your content can help you acquire backlinks. These are links on other websites that direct users back to your website. By adding external links on your website, you’re adding credibility to your content, meaning other websites are more likely to link to your website on a particular topic. The more backlinks you acquire, the more authority your website gains.

Let’s compare it to a real-world example. If you owned a bookstore, and a customer came in asking for a book that you don’t have, you have two options. You can tell them that you don’t have the book in stock, or point them in the direction of another bookstore that you know does have it. Whilst pointing them towards the other store means you won’t receive the conversion yourself, you’ve provided valuable information to the customer, meaning they are more likely to return for any other book-related queries they have.

The same applies to your website. If a user comes to your website looking for information you don’t have, and you point them in the right direction, this means they’re more likely to remember you next time they need relevant information.

What are the benefits of external linking?

We’ve already mentioned some businesses aren’t keen on the thought of directing customers to another website, but there are many benefits external linking can bring. 

You add relevancy to your website

The most important benefit received from adding outbound links is relevancy. Whilst Google (and other search engines) look mostly at what backlinks are pointing towards your website as a sign of relevancy, they also pay some attention to the links that are pointing away from your website. For example, if a lawyer had a webpage about divorce processes, and linked to a government webpage outlining the same thing, the two would be linked in terms of relevancy.

Improved user experience

If you’ve read our internal linking guide, you’ll know that one of the reasons you should include links throughout your content is to improve user experience. The same applies to external linking. When linking out to a relevant website, you are offering the user more information should they need it, improving their overall experience, and encouraging them to view your website more favourably.

Improved page authority

Search engines are looking for one thing when scouring the web – a collective hub of information. We’ve already established that outbound links help improve the relevancy of your website, but relevancy helps improve your page authority, which in turn can help improve your rankings and organic visibility in search engine results.

Better backlinking opportunities

The negative stigma attached to external links makes it really hard to get decent quality backlinks from relevant sites. Nobody wants to hand out backlinks anymore, for fear of being penalised by Google, or for fear of directing the user away from their website. But, if you already have a link to their domain on your website, they might be more easily swayed. Most webmasters will check their backlinks on a regular basis, so are likely to find your website anyway. Give them a reason to link to you, and they will.

How to successfully implement external links

Like everything related to SEO, there are some things that you have to bear in mind when implementing external links within your link structure, in order to prevent poor optimisation.

Make sure your outbound link has relevancy

There’s that word again – relevancy. It’s one of the most important things to consider when adding external links. There’s no use in an outbound link to a website that has nothing to do with yours, and in some cases it can actually have a negative impact.

Seek out good-quality links

As with inbound links, the quality of the websites you link to have an impact on the power you receive from them. If you fill your website with links to low quality directories, it can have a negative impact. If you seek out good-quality websites with great content, it can have a positive impact.

Avoid creating a ‘link farm’

You might now be tempted to start adding outbound links everywhere, but be careful about the amount you include within your website content. One thing you really want to avoid is creating a “link farm”, a webpage whose sole purpose is to provide external links, or adding links where they’re not really necessary.

Before adding an external link, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this link add more to the subject of my content?
  • Does the website I’m linking to follow Google guidelines?
  • Am I just adding this link for the sake of adding an outbound link?

The answer to the first two questions should be yes, whilst the third one should be no. If you have the wrong answer to any of these questions, stop. This is probably not the kind of external link you want.

Speak to our SEO specialists for more information

Our SEO specialists can help you learn more about external linking, how to identify a good external link and even do all of the hard work for you with our link building services. Be sure to get in touch with us today to see how else we can help.




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