A website’s link structure is crucial for its long-term success. Both internal links and external links play a major role in where search engines like Google will rank pages of your website in search results. While many SEOs and digital marketers understand the importance of internal links and providing users with an excellent internal link structure, many often forget to include external links, also called outbound links, in their blog posts.
In this article, we will go over the importance of external links, what external links are, why you should include external links on your website and ways you can implement more external links on your already existing blog posts.
What Are External Links?
Starting with the basics, external links are any link on a website that goes to a different website. You can think of external links as a bridge from one website to another website. You can differentiate internal links from external links by their URLs. The domain name on an external link/ outbound link will be different from the website the link is on. For example, any link on this website that changes the URL from “heytony.ca” to another domain name is an external link.
It is important to have both internal and external links on your website while avoiding broken links.
Why You Should Use External Links In Your Blog Posts?
Just like internal links, external links, when used properly, improve your technical SEO scores with search engines. Having external links shows search engines like Google that your website isn’t a dead end for information and often can be used to reference information from other websites. External links also help search engines understand the overall content theme of your website by linking to related websites or informational resources in your industry.
However, when using external links in your blog posts you should also be careful of the websites you decide to link to as you don’t want to give your competitors a free backlink. There are a few questions you should consider using to help you decide if you should include an external link. They are:
- Does the website you want to link to have a high domain authority score?
- Is the website you want to link to a source of information and statistics, or is it a competitor site?
- Does the page on the website you want to link to get a lot of organic search traffic already?
- Does the page on the website you want to link to have many external links?
When deciding if you should include an external link in your next blog post, the first thing you should check is whether the website you plan to link to has a high domain authority or not. Websites with a high domain authority will typically have many inbound links while providing multiple valuable external links to other websites. You can check a website’s domain authority score by using tools like Moz, SEMRush, or Ahrefs.
If the website has low authority then an external link might not be needed. However, if the website has a high domain authority score, linking to it can add to your own website’s credibility with search engines by directing users to high-quality websites through relevant links. This shows search engines that you are willing to send users to high-quality information sources from an already established and authoritative website while also giving you an opportunity to include more relevant keywords.
Related: How to properly use URL redirects for SEO
The next thing to ask yourself when considering implementing an external link on your blog is if the website you want to link to is a competitor’s website or an informational resource. You never want to link to your competitors and increase their search engine rankings but linking to informational resources and statistics websites can help give your blog post credibility.
Search engine studies have revealed that websites with zero external links typically rank lower than websites that use external links. In addition to citing sources of information for your blog post, informational resource websites also tend to have a high domain authority score which coincides with the first question you should ask yourself when thinking about implementing external links and establishing a strong link-building strategy.
Another question to ask yourself when thinking about whether or not you should include an external link on your next blog post is if the page you want to link to already gets a lot of traffic. Some informational resource websites may have high domain authority scores but many of their pages get little to no traffic. This can be due to having outdated content or too few links pointing at them.
The more links a web page has, the higher likelihood it has of receiving more organic search traffic. If the page you want to link already gets a lot of traffic, this can help with the initial indexing of your blog post. By linking to an already established page with its own flow of traffic, search engine crawl bots like Google’s spiders can easily categorize the contents of your blog post and get your website URL ranking for the right keywords faster.
Related: Long Tail vs. Short Tail Keywords
How Many External Links Should You Have In Your Blog?
You should always remember that external links take your visitors away from your website which could result in less time on site and fewer touchpoints which could lead to a conversion. Additionally, whenever you implement an external link, you should set your HTML to open external links in a new tab to allow your web users to have an easy way to return to your website.
Due to search algorithms constantly changing there is no exact number of external links a blog post should have but a good general rule of thumb is to have a maximum of 1 for every 500 words. However, you are more than likely to have a few blog posts that don’t allow external linking opportunities. This is fine and many old blog posts meet sufficient ranking factors to compete in the modern SEO landscape thanks to being high-quality content with plenty of links from other web pages. How many external and internal links you include on a blog post is up to you and as long as your other blog posts have external links, your website will not be seen as a dead end for content.
Related: How long does it take a new website to index?
Ways To Include External Links In Your Blog Post
External linking to other relevant content is some of the best practices you can do when you want to increase the traffic to a website. When implementing external links in your blog, context and creating a positive user experience are essential. First, you should ensure that the URL of the page you want to link to is correct to avoid sending your website visitors to a 404 error page with a broken link. By using anchor text, you can give your readers an idea of what type of content they can expect to find on the external link.
Related: How to Drive Traffic and Sales From TikTok
If your website has many blog posts but very few external links, consider going back to add a few external links to those posts to improve your overall link strategy. Blog posts that have been built on WordPress or another CMS (content management system) allow you to search through your old posts for specific anchor text. Suppose you see a post that references statistics and includes keywords that can you link to a source, consider implementing an external link. Whenever you write a blog post and need to reference a source of information, this is a good opportunity to include an external link.
To learn more about external links and their impact on SEO check out the rest of our blog. You can also find valuable information about digital marketing, TikTok advertising, and how many links you should aim to build each month.