SEO Tactics – External Linking – Some Basics
The internet relies on links & linking – they are the foundation of how the entire World Wide Web works. They connect pages and facilitate navigation.
Our last article addressed the role and importance of internal links for SEO. As important as these are, they are not the whole story – and another essential aspect of any comprehensive, effective SEO strategy is the use of external links.
What are External Links?
An external link is any link from website content that points to another domain – it can be any hyperlink or backlink from another site that points back to your website or, alternatively, an outbound link that points from your domain to another.
Like internal links, external links require high-quality, relevant content.
Consider, for example, your onsite blog. You may link your content to another, high authority website as a form of referencing a statistic or statement you make or as a supporting document. This represents an external link and, depending on the quality of the website and content to which you have linked, it can be extremely effective in helping your own website’s visibility to Google bots and ranking results.
The Importance of External Links for SEO
Trustworthy, high-quality external links:
- Support your web page’s search engine ranking.
- Lend your own website legitimacy and authority, improving your credibility.
- Help search engines by providing relevancy metrics and enabling them to establish knowledge “hubs” for validity.
- Deliver a very important source of ranking power for your SEO efforts.
- Are more influential than internal links – and external linking is arguably the single most effective action to achieve high search engine results page (SERP) rankings.
- Are a great way to foster industry connections.
- Present your content to the right audience and offers your audience greater value and a better user experience.
Externallinks are, compared with some other SEO efforts, very difficult to manipulate. They are considered to be a very stable metric and easily measurable. This means they are an authentic way for search engines to determine the popularity and appropriate ranking results for a web page.
Google bots consider an array of ranking metrics to understand and rate the value of external links. These include (but are not limited to):
- The popularity of the page being linked to
- The linking domain’s trustworthiness
- Content relevance between source and target pages
- Number of links between source and target pages
- Linking anchor text (is it keyword-targeted?)
Tips for External Linking
- You do not require permission to link to another website – however, your links should be of high quality and relevant to your own content. The content you link to or from must be related to your own and enhance the experience of your human audience.
- Link only to reputable, authoritative sources, as you would if referencing or creating a bibliography.
- Anchor text is very important. Where possible, use your focus keyword targets for linking purposes as this hints to Google about the content being linked and improves ranking. It’s also easier for readers to understand what they are clicking towards. Anchor text should also read naturally and not be forced.
- Ideally, have your links (both internal and external) open in a new tab – this gives your visitor as much control as possible about how they interact with your site and prevents them from being completely directed away from your website.
- Avoid overwhelming your reader with too many links – it looks messy and can make a web page appear that it’s been written more for SEO than for the human audience. It’s all about striking the balance – and Google looks favourably upon web pages that deliver an excellent user experience.
- Don’t link to your competitors!! Choose sites that add value but in no way risk pointing your audience to your business competitors.
- Periodically audit your links to make sure they are all still legitimate, unbroken, and not outdated.
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