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Internal and external linking – why do we do it and how?

High positions in search results, increasing website traffic, building the image of an expert in the industry – these are frequent motivations of many enterprises that implement SEO activities. However, not everyone is aware that a good content marketing strategy is not only about texts on the page saturated with proper keywords. It is also linking, which is often unjustifiably neglected.

Links – both internal and external – are very important for creating well-optimised content. Effective linking is an action that can be appreciated by both the user and the search engine.

From the article, you will learn:

  • What is worth knowing about linking pages? 
  • What is the difference between internal and external linking? 
  • What are the benefits of using links?
  • How to conduct link building activities?

 Linking pages – basic information

Let’s start by explaining what linking is. In the simplest terms, it is placing hyperlinks in the content, leading the user to specific places. This may be, for example, a subpage within the same domain or a completely different website (although links may also lead to a given section on the same page, which is used, for example, in tables of contents).

Linking only makes sense if the links are thematically connected – this will make it easier for the search engine to recognize the topic of the page. For example: if you refer in an article on your company blog to an issue that has already been discussed in more detail in another publication – it is worth adding a link to it here (you can also see such a procedure in this article). This will allow the user to jump immediately to the topic he is interested in, without having to look for information outside.

We can therefore describe the importance of linking from two perspectives:

  • from the user’s point of view – facilitates site navigation, allows for the non-linear perception of content,
  • from the search engine’s point of view – allows Google robots to index the page more accurately and quickly.

What does a link look like?

A link takes the form of the URL of a destination page, anchored to a particular location on the site. This “anchor” is the visible part of the link and a clickable piece of content. Text links are the most common. They are usually easy to spot because they differ from plain text by formatting, e.g. different colour or underlining (sometimes only after hovering). There are also graphic links – in this case clicking on e.g. drawing, photograph or logo will lead you to the target page.

But let’s go back to text links. They are very often placed in specific phrases, called anchor texts. They tell us what kind of content we can expect when we go to the target page (although the anchor text may as well be just a URL). It is worth ensuring that the anchor text corresponds to what is on the linked page. So instead of phrases like “more information” or “click here” use specific keywords.

Type of links

Text, image, outbound, inbound, natural, advertising… There are many types of links, as well as criteria for their division. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the basic division into:

  •  internal links – links that lead to pages within the same domain,
  • external links – links leading to a place outside the domain we are currently on.

 

From an SEO point of view, the attributes assigned to the links are also very important:

  • dofollow links – are more valuable, are a hint for the search engines to follow them when indexing linked page,
  • nofollow links – suggest to the search engine that the link is less important, and it is not worth considering it when evaluating the page.

 

It can be said that a high authority site with a dofollow link transfers its power to the target site. That’s why we care most about acquiring this kind of link. However, ultimately it is Google who decides whether a given link is useful. That’s why even those with nofollow attributes shouldn’t be underestimated – they can also be useful and look more natural from a search engine perspective.

How to make sure that your link has been assigned the right attribute? Just verify it in the source code of the page, because the nofollow link will be marked there in the right way:

<a href=”https://www.elephate.com/pl/” rel=”nofollow”></a>

What is internal linking?

Internal linking belongs to on-page activities, i.e. activities conducted on your own website. In this case, links lead users and Google robots to other subpages but located within the same website. By using internal links, you make it possible for users present on your website to visit different subpages and thus learn about the topics they are interested in.

Where to place internal links?

The most natural place for internal links is the main menu, allowing you to quickly move to the most important places within the site. The second is usually the logo, which enables a quick return to the main page from any place. Links can also be found on the site map or page path (so-called bread crumbs).

Apart from these obvious places, it is also worth taking care of internal linking in various types of content on the site, such as category descriptions, blog articles or additional sections. Links inside such an entry may refer to e.g. other thematically related texts on the blog or to specific categories or products. Proper selection of links is a part of content optimization, which is invaluable support for publishing unique and substantive content.

 

The importance of internal linking

Internal linking plays an important role. First of all, it makes the content more friendly – both for the viewer and the search engine. The specific benefits it can bring to your site are:

 

1. Keep the user longer on the website and reduce the rejection rate.

Well-crafted links mean easier and more convenient navigation on the website for the visitor. Thanks to this, there is a good chance that they will spend more time on the site and visit more pages instead of leaving it at the first contact.

 

2. Building the image of an expert and positive associations with the brand.

Thanks to internal links (and, of course, quality content underneath them) a user may remember your website as a comprehensive knowledge base on the topic he/she is interested in. Then the probability that he will return to it in the future or recommend it to others increases.

 

3. Higher positions of the website in search results.

Contrary to what you might think, an internal linking system also translates into SEO, as it makes it easier for not only users but also Google robots to navigate the site. Thorough indexing can give your site more value, which will translate into higher search engine rankings and increased organic traffic.

 

What is external linking?

In the case of external linking, the most important goal is to obtain links leading to our website from other, valuable websites (inbound links). We call this link building. In contrast to previously discussed internal linking, we conduct it outside our domain (off-page). In the case of external linking, we can also talk about outbound links, when we refer to other websites of high authority (then it is on-page activity). Such an action can also bring us benefits, but now we will focus on issues related to inbound links.

The importance of external linking

Many experts are of the opinion that there is no SEO without link building. Meanwhile, some people wrongly skip it when planning their company’s content marketing strategy. This is a big mistake because external linking has not only a huge potential in terms of positioning. Such activities also influence brand recognition and shape its image. What exactly can you gain? The benefits partly coincide with the advantages of using internal links, although here definitely more emphasis is put on SEO:

 

1. Improve the ranking of the website.

External links are an indication to Google of the topic of your site and are one of the indicators of its value. A large number of links from high authority sites will therefore help your site rank higher in search results (although you should pay more attention to quality than quantity of links).

 

2. Increase website traffic.

An inbound link gives you the opportunity to bring a user to your site with a single click. Links from popular blogs or portals can therefore help to increase the number of visitors to your website and find new audiences.

 

3. Building a positive brand image.

By taking care of link building, you will provide your company with greater recognition. Thanks to links from valuable websites, you will gain the credibility and trust of your recipients, becoming in their eyes an authority in your industry. This in turn may pay off in the future by gaining new clients.

 

Ways of link building

How can you acquire external links? There are several ways, and the most well-known ones are:

 

1. External publications

The most popular link building method. Speaking of external publications, we mean content created for a specific blog or portal from which we want to obtain a link. It can have a form of e.g. guest post or sponsored article. The key factors here are selecting the right website in terms of subject matter and SEO metrics (e.g. Domain Authority according to Moz or Domain Rating according to Ahrefs), finding the right context for linking and preparing the content of high substantive and linguistic quality.

 

2. Digital PR campaign

An interesting and well-executed digital PR campaign is a great way not only to get brand mentions but also to gain natural links from valuable portals. Detailed analysis and carefully prepared reports should be interesting for various types of media – both trade and general ones.

 

3. Expert articles

If your company is considered an expert in its industry, it is definitely worth establishing cooperation with specialist portals or magazines. This can be in different forms. A very popular form is to prepare an expert article. In return for sharing your knowledge and experience with the readers, you can count on the mention of the brand and a link (although the details of cooperation must be agreed with the editors, of course).

 

4. Social media

The role of social media in online marketing is indisputable, so it is worth regularly publishing interesting content from your website on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other places where your brand is present. Thanks to comments and shares of other users, you can significantly increase the reach of a given publication. Another option to consider is working with influencers – the links they share to your website will encourage new people to visit it.

 

5. Site directories

Once upon a time, directories were the primary place for linking sites. However, according to SEO specialists, nowadays, this method is not so important and is slowly becoming forgotten, so we will not pay much attention to it.

 

What else to keep in mind?

To conclude, here are 3 more important points you need to consider if you are seriously considering tackling link building for your website.

 

1. Analyse your competitors’ links.

Before you start acquiring external links, take some time to think about your strategy. Check what sites are linking to your biggest competitors that are achieving high rankings in Google. You can do this with the right tools, such as Ahrefs.

 

2. Ensure a natural link profile.

Ideally, links should look natural, i.e. when others mention your brand and add links to your content, e.g. due to interesting topic development or high content value. However, it is not always possible, especially if the subject matter is too specialized and not very popular. In such a situation, links should also be built using paid methods, but in such a way that they do not look like advertising.

 

3. Do not overdo the number of links.

Content with links, both external and internal, helps the user and the search engine navigate the site. However, you shouldn’t overdo the frequency of links, as this might cause the article or landing page to look chaotic and be counterproductive.

 

 

If your time resources do not allow you to deal with link building 100 percent, or you think that you do not have enough knowledge on the subject, it is worth entrusting this task to specialists. Experts will prepare an appropriate strategy, which will then be implemented in accordance with all the rules, which will certainly increase the effectiveness of this type of activity. With the help of a PR or content marketing agency, you can also conduct a campaign that will help you gain additional links and increase traffic to your site and brand recognition in the network. The effects of such cooperation between Elephate and the EFL brand can be found in the case study.

Published
  • 18 February 2022
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