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What are External Links: A Guide to Boost Your Website's SEO

Summer Nguyen | 06-16-2017

What are External Links: A Guide to Boost Your Website's SEO

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A strong SEO strategy can help you increase web authority and generate more traffic to your website in this competitive world. From the marketing perspective, SEO is central to a web’s visibility online.

In order to build a strong SEO plan, the first step is to have a solid understanding of fundamental SEO principles. And External Link is what we’re about to discuss in this post.

We will look at some of the most vital aspects of an external link, find out “What are external links?”, and “What do role external links play in an SEO strategy?”

Already, let’s dive in!


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What are External links?
What are External links?

External links are hyperlinks that point from one domain to another. In other words, if a website links to yours, you can consider this action as external linking.

Furthermore, if a hyperlink from a different site links to your web, it’s called an ‘inbound link.’ Another term that is commonly used to mention these hyperlinks is ‘backlink.’

So what’s it called when you link your site to a different domain? Let’s find out in the next section: the distinction between external and internal links.

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In the world of SEO, not all links are the same. They even come with different names and have particular roles and effects on the overall SEO performance.

External Links and Internal Links
External Links and Internal Links

As mentioned above, the term ‘external links’ is used for links added to your website content that navigate to other domains across the Internet.

In many cases, external links are used to provide readers with more information from other sources (not your web) that you deem valuable. Usually, the pages where users navigate to will have similar content as yours or otherwise relate to your business’s products/ services.

Though external links make your content more informative and valuable to readers, they have a minor influence regarding strategic SEO value. The SEO benefits accrue for the web you link to, not yours.

Code Sample: Your text (anchor text) goes here

With internal links, the source webpage (containing the link) and targeted web page (which the link points to) are within a web domain. And external links point toward the webpage on a separate domain.

Now can you see the difference? Basically, creating internal links is when you link a web page of yours to a URL within that website.

For instance, you write a blog discussing the importance of SEO in Magento 2. Before that, you already had a post talking about Best SEO Tips For Beginners. Then, you can link these 2 posts together in order to provide more information about SEO for readers.

Internal links form a logical and connective web structure of your website that helps visitors navigate through your whole web in a systematic way.

External links have two main types: Do-follow links vs. No-follow links.

A do-follow link is a link that passes the authority of the origin site (also known as link equity or link juice) to the targeted site.

Do-follow links improve a web’s domain authority, indirectly influencing your web rankings in search engine results. By default, links are do-follow, so there is no need for rel=" dofollow" when linking to a website.

In contrast to do-follow links, no-follow links do not pass any link equity to the web it links to. As a result, they don’t have any benefits regarding SEO. To create a no-follow link, you just need to add a rel=’nofollow' to the code.

External links play an essential role in SEO projects because of several advantages for your online presence.

In fact, external links have always been a vital factor Google uses to decide your web rankings. It is mostly based on the idea of how people talk about your site in the digital world.

Increases the web’s visibility

Like any other search engine, Google always aims to display search results that are most relevant to users’ queries. External links from other websites that link to your web will:

  • Become the proof of the popularity of your web, which makes it easier for Google algorithms to track and evaluate your site performance

  • Show Google and other search engines the relevance of your web content for users’ particular search intents and queries

On the other hand, external links you put on your own web can benefit you in different ways. The webmasters of the web domain you link to might notice yours on reports of traffic sources.

That’s being said; they can add URL links to your web content, giving you more organic traffic. No matter what, external links can boost your website’s ranking with proper implementation.

Add value to user experience

As mentioned earlier, the actions of a link to another website provide readers with more detailed and relevant information around the topics they search for online.

For example, customers read a blog about the eCommerce trend, a link directing to detailed statistics will make your content much more convincing to the readers.

This, for sure, enhances the user experience and even entices them to revisit your site for more quality content.

Open more backlinking opportunities

The benefits of external linking go beyond the basic SEO techniques. Though the implementation is simple, building a natural link environment valuable in the long run requires time and effort.

When you link to other reliable sources on the web, there are more chances you get a backlink from them. In some cases, you will be the one who first asks for backlinks from other sites.

This type of natural link-building benefits all parties involved and gives you more attention and quality traffic. In fact, it’s one of the most effective SEO techniques marketers use to boost web ranking on search engines results pages.

How to Use External Links

Now, let’s delve into the crucial aspects of leveraging external links to enhance your SEO strategy:

Carefully Select Your Anchor Text

Emphasizing our earlier point, choosing the right anchor text is crucial for optimal impact. When incorporating links, ensure that the anchor text is directly related to the destination page.

For instance, if linking to a page on SEO auditing, instead of using a generic term like “audit,” opt for a more specific phrase such as “SEO audit case study.” This not only provides context for readers but also aids Google in understanding the content of your page, influencing its ranking in search engine results.

Beyond employing contextually relevant anchor text, it’s essential to position external links where they fit seamlessly. Google’s web crawlers not only analyze anchor text but also consider the surrounding text.

To enhance context, surround your anchor text with relevant information in the same sentence or paragraph.

For instance, a sentence like “This SEO audit case study from Ahrefs found that conducting regular audits helps website owners identify and correct potential issues affecting search engine rankings” adds valuable context and credibility to the linked resource.

Given the dynamic nature of Google’s algorithm, it’s crucial to perform regular external link SEO audits. These audits help identify any issues impacting your website’s ranking, allowing for timely corrections to enhance visibility and organic search traffic.

Evaluate both internal and external links, scrutinizing anchor text and destination pages. Look out for broken links and promptly address them. Conducting periodic SEO audits of your external links ensures that your website remains adaptable to changes in Google’s algorithm, maintaining visibility in search engine results pages.

External Links Best Practices

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Some Tips for External Linking
Some Tips for External Linking

Prioritize the relevancy

When building external links, you should only link to pages that are relevant to the topic you are talking about on the post. Google will estimate the quality of links via the relevance of the content between the linked web pages.

As a Magento store owner, we recommend you to use an SEO extension that supports cross-links where you can link all relevant pages (including both internal and external links)

From the SEO standpoint, the quality of content is the key to quality backlinks. As we all know, backlinks are a vital SEO metric since they help build authority and trust for many search engines. They also contribute significantly to customer acquisition and retention.

There are many tactics to earn more backlinks for a site. But what good are backlinks if visitors have a poor experience on your site and just bounce?

Thus, creating quality (relevant to users’ needs and visually appealing) that gives added value to web visitors is the most natural way to earn quality backlinks.

Your website’s external links should be opened in a different tab instead of directly in the original one. This tip could help you retain visitors and increase user experience. When users click on an external link, opening it in a new tab allows them to maintain their current browsing session. They can easily navigate back to the original page without losing their place. If you let links be opened on the original page, users who are interested in exploring a linked resource but are directed away may not return.

A link farm is a group of unrelated sites for those who don’t know, and each contains hyperlinks to other sites in the group. The purpose of this practice is to trick search engines into ranking your site higher than its actual ranking.

In fact, link farming is considered a black hat SEO technique that is not a legitimate long-term search optimization strategy. Link farms can seriously harm your web rankings since search engines now can detect this as spam easily.

From the reader’s perspective, having too many hyperlinks on a page may be an annoyance. We recommend you only connect to a few relevant blogs and focus on more on-page SEO for the best results.

Linking to websites that compete for the same keywords will be damaging. For instance, if you’re aiming to rank #1 for the term “best Magento extensions” you should not link to a site that already holds this position. Instead, you can link to websites that bring benefits to your content, like blog pages that provide general information.

How to Find External Links?

Now that you understand the significance of external links, how can you acquire them for your own site? Consider these three methods: Implement Effective Link-Building Strategies Take your link-building to the next level by mastering proven strategies that consistently deliver results.

Explore our guide on the best link building strategies and learn how to effectively apply each one. Remember, the key is not to chase every new strategy but to focus on 1 or 2 that resonate with you and master them for consistent success.

Outsource Your Link Building

Acknowledge the time and effort link-building demands, especially for beginners. If the process becomes daunting, consider outsourcing your link-building needs to a reputable service.

Outsourcing offers advantages such as payment for guaranteed link placements, acquisition of high-quality links, and overall improvement in SEO rankings. With someone else handling link building, you can concentrate on growing your business without committing additional time or effort.

Utilize Ahrefs for Link Opportunities


Discover high-quality external link opportunities by leveraging Ahrefs, a leading SEO tool with an extensive link database. Learn more about finding top-notch links for your website in my Ahrefs review, which also explores other powerful features for enhancing your SEO.

The bottom line

Before adding an external link, ask yourself 2 most essential questions:

  • Does this link add more value and information to the subject of my content?

  • Does the webpage I’m about to link follow Google guidelines and have a high ranking on the Internet?

If the answers to these questions are yes, it’s exactly the external link you will want to add to your content.

In short, the role of external links in SEO is vital. It is not only one of the determining criteria for the web on the results of the search engines but also has a direct effect on the quality and credibility of a website.

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    A data-driven marketing leader with over 10 years of experience in the ecommerce industry. Summer leverages her deep understanding of customer behavior and market trends to develop strategic marketing campaigns that drive brand awareness, customer acquisition, and ultimately, sales growth for our company.

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