Your SEO strategy should include both internal and external links. But are they equal? Or is it a case of internal vs external links, with one being more powerful? You might even wonder what a link is. Don’t worry, we’ll cover this too.
You’re about to learn the differences between internal and external links. We’ll cover how these links can help you rank your business’s website higher on Google or Bing. As SEO basics, you should pay attention to link building in general.
As different types of links, it’s not a battle between internal vs external links, instead, you should be building both types. Let’s get started!
What are internal links?
Creating a link between two pages on the same website is an internal link. The simplest illustration is the top navigation menu. All of these links, such as home, about, services, etc., take you to another page on the website.
We use internal links to help visitors better navigate our website, making key pages easy to find.
What are external links?
When you link to another website, it’s called an external link. For example, if I talk about Rank Tracker, my keyword research tool of choice. I might create an external link to the company SEO Powersuite or the product page. See what I did there?!
If another website links to your website, it’s known as backlinking.
Types of external links
We have four types of external links, and the search engines treat each type slightly differently, hence the need to be clear when creating links on your website. These are:
- User-generated content
By default, all links are dofollow. These are powerful links as they demonstrate to the search engines that you’re linking to a trusted resource. That said, they only count the first instance. So, if possible link to multiple websites.
Think of these as a way to tell search engines not to bother following the link to the next page.
By using a nofollow tag (rel=”nofollow”), you make it easy for users to navigate your website but block crawlers from finding, indexing, and ranking pages. You might use a nofollow tag when linking to a competitor or an external form.
Links marked with a sponsored tag (rel=”sponsored”) tell the search engines that you’re receiving payment either when users follow these links or for placing these links on your website.
The most typical use of this type of link is for affiliates, where you’ll receive a commission based on the action a user takes on the external website.
UGC (user-generated content)
With this tag (rel=”ugc”), you tell the search engines that you didn’t create the content they’ll read. You can use the user-generated content link type for comment sections and forums.
Which do we typically use?
The overwhelming majority of websites will only ever use dofollow and nofollow links. The other types aren’t that useful for small business websites.
How to mark a link nofollow?
Highlight the text you’d like to use to create a link, click the link button, and then a gear icon on the pop-up (link options). In this second pop-up, you can tick a box to make the link open in a new window and be marked as nofollow.
If not, you’ll need to add rel=”nofollow” when creating an <a> link. For example: <a href=”https://www.bbc.co.uk/” rel=”nofollow”>BBC</a>.
I advise clients to use the nofollow tag sparingly. You want to create dofollow backlinks to high-authority websites as it will help make your content more credible.
Building internal vs external links
As there’s a difference between internal vs external links, you need both in our SEO strategy. Each type of link offers numerous benefits.
Benefits of internal Links
- Help search engines understand the purpose of your page
- Create a better user experience
- Improve engagement because users can easily find information
- Encourage users to visit more pages within a single session
- Pass link juice to other pages within your website, building their authority.
Benefits of external links
- Improve your website’s trustworthiness and credibility
- Help search engines better understand what your article is about.
Why do many websites refuse to build internal and external links?
I’m often surprised by the number of websites that forget to add internal and external links to their article, especially when adding a few of each to a page could result in a rankings boost.
Usually, there’s no reason why they don’t, other than a lack of understanding. Thankfully, these are easy things to put right, and you can feel the impact within a few weeks.
How to quickly add links to a blog article
If you’ve published tons of blog articles and haven’t added any internal or external links, you might be nervous and don’t know where to start. Don’t worry, here are a few tips to get you going.
Aim to keep all links relevant to the subject matter you’re discussing. It’s not worth linking to an article from CNN on speed boats if you’re trying to sell medical gloves.
Will placing a link here help the reader research the topic or subtopic even more? For example, if you sell speed boat toys, linking to articles and YouTube videos on how to use them in water will be helpful.
Labeling a link as “click here” is very 2001. Instead, you want to use a descriptive link text. By optimizing the link text (known as anchor text), you help the search engines better understand both that page and the one you’re linking to.
Number of links to add
There are no set rules about the number of internal vs external links to add. Just ensure you add at least one of each to every post and page. Just, start now!
Boost your SEO efforts by adding links to your pages and posts
By adding links to credible sources, you increase your website’s quality and help the search engines understand it better. If you want visitors to trust you and your website, add both internal and external links to your content.
It’s not a matter of internal vs external links but a case of using both on every page. They both play a vital role in your blog’s SEO in 2022 and beyond.
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