External Linking in SEO: What Is It and How to Use It to Boost Your Rankings

Backlinks are said to be the foundation of the web and have held it together since the beginning of the digital era. Utilizing internal and external links are both great SEO tips to enrich your overall SEO strategy. But, external links have long lived in the shadow of their internal brethren. 

However, they are the bane of every webmaster trying to succeed online. Most people feel they must add external links in order to satisfy the “oh-so-cruel” Google and it’s ranking-oriented mind. Well, no more!

Today, we give external linking the spotlight it deserves, explaining what it is and how it can help you create a strong online presence.

Let’s get to it!

Link Building 101: What Is External Linking?

The internet is built on links. Without them, we would have an unorganized mess of disconnected pages that would be difficult to find and navigate. Luckily, that’s where link building comes to the rescue.

External links, also called outbound links are hyperlinks that point to (target) any domain other than the domain the link exists on (source). In most simple terms – if a website links to your website, it is known as external linking. Likewise, if your website links to another website, this is also called external linking. 

When a hyperlink from a website links to your website, it is commonly known as an ‘inbound link’ or a ‘backlink’, and when you link to a different website, it is popularly known as an ‘outbound link.’ 

Okay, now you know what it is, but, what makes external linking so precious?

Why Is External Linking Important and How Does It Affect SEO?

Content. Links. RankBrain.

These are the top-ranking factors Google considers when it comes to showing results on the search engine result page (SERP). In fact, external linking has always been a crucial ranking factor since the launch of Google.

Given that much of search engine optimization centers around getting lots of good links to and from your website, it’s essential to learn how to make these work for you. Using relevant external links plays a highly influential role in increasing your website’s ranking and visibility.

External Linking Example: What Do External Links Look Like?

To wrap your head around them, here is an example to give you an idea of how external links look like in the code:

<a href=”http://www.example-domain.com/”>Link Anchor Text</a>

In a minute, you’ll learn to see that each external link is a new SEO opportunity for you to take advantage of and grow your site’s authority, traffic and online influence.

Why Link Out? Benefits of External Linking

External links are used to indicate that a page is credible to search engines (and users). In layman’s terms – Google follows the content that’s linked. So, this is your way of telling Google:  “Hey, this content is valuable and high quality, thus, it should be in the first position when people search for a specific query!”

There’s no doubt that external links are one of the most important metrics, if not the backbone of high-position ranking. 

External linking helps your SEO in different ways:

Increases Visibility, Popularity and Relevance

External links provide important clues about the relevance of a page, which is extremely helpful for search engines that want users to find the information they’re looking for. When you outbound links to helpful content – you’re doing them a great service. In addition, the anchor text used in the links is usually a good indicator of the content on the target page or website. But, that’s not all. 

The more links a page receives from other sources – the more popular it appears. In return, this sends positive signals to search engines and can boost a page’s rank in search results, meaning that more searchers will click and view the externally linked content.

Builds Reputation and Credibility

If you link out to spammy sites, it will reflect negatively on your own. Websites with zero outbound links are dead ends. It’s safe to say nobody likes dead ends. On the other hand, including external links to relevant, high authority sources can boost your website’s reputation and help you appear as a more authoritative source, which helps improve your website’s trustworthiness and credibility.

Adds Value to user Experience

What really makes great content shine and stand out? Its ability to provide readers with as wide, and as well-informed a picture of a specific topic as possible. By linking out to other helpful content, you increase the value your website provides to its visitors and make their experience more engaging and rewarding. Ultimately, if people know that you publish and link to quality content, they’ll want to keep coming back for more.

Offers More Backlinking Opportunities

When you link out to other credible sources, they will be more likely to link back to your site. This signals to other people that you participate in the web’s natural linking environment. It’s a great way to build incentives for bloggers, journalists, and other website owners to engage with your website and link to your content, making external linking one of the best techniques to boost your ranking and credibility on various SERPs.

Best Practices: Use External Linking to Boost Your SEO

Looking for some practical external linking tips that can help you get the most out of your SEO strategy? We’ve got you covered. 

What factors contribute to high-quality external linking?

Think relevant – Link smart

The quality and quantity of the external links that you use matters. Linking to outside websites will not hurt your page rank as long as the relevant content you’re linking to comes from authoritative websites. An external link is more valuable if it links to popular and relevant pages that are highly ranked and related to the content on your web page, improving the credibility of your own.

Avoid excessive outgoing links,since they can be annoying from the reader’s perspective. Pro tip? Add as many links as needed – but not a single one more. 

Descriptive Anchor Text

Anchor text is the clickable, underlined and highlighted word or phrase that takes you to another web page. The anchor text used should be descriptive and provide a clear idea about the content on the web page it leads to. This will improve usability for both users and search engines.

Don’t Forget to Audit

The web is a living and breathing entity. Websites, blogs, web pages? They come and go. Broken links are bad for your SEO as they leak out authority, but also offer a horrendous user experience since you’ll be sending your precious traffic to dead pages. Luckily, this is easy to fix if you refresh your external linking from time to time.

Put Your Skills to Work: Leverage the Power of External Linking

External linking is a small, yet significant factor in SEO that should be paid close attention. It may take time to master this link building optimization process, but the effort will be worth it – you’ll boost traffic to your website, improve your site’s rank on the search engine’s results page and build trustworthiness and authority. 

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