In order to have a strong SEO strategy for your website, you’ll need to understand the differences between an internal link and an external link, and how they can improve your SEO strategy. Using relevant internal and external links on your site will ultimately improve the visibility and rank of your website.
Internal Links vs. External Links
An internal link, also known as an inbound link, is a hyperlink that directs the reader to another page on your website, whereas an external link is a hyperlink that directs the reader to a reputable page on a different website. External links may seem counter intuitive — after all, you don't want customers clicking on links that direct them away from your site. However, linking to trustworthy material helps you come across as an authority and can help Google figure out what your content is about, for SEO purposes.
It's important to keep in mind that other sites for different companies can provide external links to your website in their own content as well. For instance, if you publish a very useful blog post, another company may link back to it as a source for their own blog. These types of links to your site are key, as they boost your ranking in Google's search algorithm.
Benefits of Internal Links
Internal links on a web page will help a viewer to stay engaged with your website longer. This may encourage them to become a customer or follower. These links are more accessible to viewers, and they increase the authority of your web pages and overall site. Internal links are often used as a call-to-action. For example, they might prompt a viewer to read or learn more about a topic by clicking on the internal link, or else ask a viewer to contact you or schedule a visit.
Your website’s visibility and rank on a search engine can be improved by adding internal links. The anchor text — the text of the hyperlink — should be a specific and descriptive group of words that will help a search engine bot to better “crawl,” or understand, your web page. Internal links will help a bot find other web pages on your site, too. A web page that is easy to navigate — for users and search engine bots — will properly index. This means that the web page will be added to a search engine’s web pages so that your site can be found.
Benefits of External Links
The quality and quantity of the external links that you use matters. Adding trustworthy and informative external links of high quality to your pages will help improve the credibility of your website, whereas adding poor-quality links will hurt your site. Linking to outside websites will not hurt your page rank as long as the content you’re linking to comes from authoritative sites. An external link is more valuable if it links to a popular (highly-ranked) and relevant (related to the content on your page) web page. Valuable external links will also help to improve the authority of your website, by providing a viewer with references.
Whenever you link to another site, that site will see that you’re linking to them. Then, they are likely to return the favor by linking to your site in their content. External links, sometimes referred to as outbound links, from other websites that link to your site further improve your site’s credibility because they prove that your content is valuable. External links are a great way to reach out, make connections, and get your content out there. This type of external link is a great source of free traffic for your website, and, as mentioned above, is a crucial element of Google’s search engine algorithm.
A Note About Do-Follow and No-Follow Links
The term no-follow link means just that: while it brings referral traffic to your page, it carries little to no value in the eyes of the search engine. On the other hand, do-follow links tell a search engine to follow the link and the associated site, creating what's referred to as "link juice".
Improving Your SEO Strategy
There are a lot of factors that need to be considered when search engines like Google have the power to determine which sites are ranked higher and are thus more visible to a viewer. Internal and external links are an important component of a strong SEO strategy and help boost SEO ranking power. It may take time to master this link building process, but the effort will be worth it: you’ll boost traffic to your site and improve your site’s rank on the search engine’s results page.