The power of External Linking
You’re undoubtedly aware that link building is an integral part of digital marketing. You want to get as many quality links pointing to your website as possible, to demonstrate your site is trusted and an authority within your industry. Link building can significantly boost your SEO efforts, though unfortunately it’s one of the hardest strategies to fully implement.
But when it comes to including external links in your own copy, some businesses are hesitant to do this. Surely having a link to another website on your page will direct people away from your sales funnel? The simple answer is no – external linking should play a large role in your overall link strategy for SEO, as it can really improve your results! We’ve looked into some of the benefits of external links below.
An external link, sometimes referred to as an outbound or outgoing link, is a link that, once clicked on, will redirect the user away from your website. They are usually used to source facts and figures you’ve referenced in your text, like the fact that links are one of the top criteria considered by Google’s page ranking algorithm.
When writing copy, you’re likely to include a mixture of external and internal links – the latter are links that point to other pages on your site. For instance, you may be interested in knowing how long SEO efforts like link building take to bear fruit. There are also inbound links, which is when other websites use links to point at your site. The best link building strategies use a combination of all three of these types of links (your site pointing at external websites and internal pages, as well as other sites pointing at your website).
Why Do People Avoid External Links?
The most common reason companies tend to avoid linking to external websites is that they’re worried about users leaving their page, and therefore not converting. But in all honesty, a lot of links are just skimmed over, especially when they are included in large blocks of text or blog posts! They don’t make much of a difference to user experience, and there is a very obvious example of an organisation booming due to external links – Google. Their very purpose is to redirect their users away from their page as quickly as possible, and it seems to be working out pretty well so far.
Other reasons people try to avoid outbound links include:
- They don’t want to increase another company’s sales, especially if it’s within the same industry
- Some people are keen to only include links that are directly relevant to their own business or sector
- There is a belief that linking to external sites could confuse the user
While it’s true that directing traffic to other websites could increase their sales, the links may not be completely relevant to your company, or external links might be befuddling to some people, the huge benefits certainly outweigh the small disadvantages.
The Importance of External Linking
Perhaps the most useful thing about external links is that they can heighten your own site’s popularity. Search engines like Google always aim to show the most relevant results, which generally means popular sites relating to that query. Having lots of high authority links in your copy can contribute to the popularity of a particular page.
There are many other common advantages of external links, such as improving your website’s reputation and authority, adding value to your site, and increasing the relevance of your content. What you may not realise is that, with outbound links, there is a chance that you’ll encourage backlinks. Linking to a credible source online increases the likelihood of them linking back to your site. This is partly due to the fact that you’ve demonstrated that you are happy to participate in your industry’s link network.
Pages To Link To
While including external links is a great way to improve your SEO, you do need to be a little bit careful about which pages you point to. While including slightly suspect links may not damage your SEO, they certainly won’t help you see the highest levels of success. The two main questions to ask yourself before adding an outbound link to your content are ‘is the page trustworthy’ and ‘is the page popular’.
In terms of trustworthiness, well respected sites like those of the government, news agencies, charities, or academic pages will look better than lower quality websites. If you’re able to include relevant links from these sites in your copy, they’ll be seen as a stronger endorsement, and if you can get an inbound link in return, you’ll see even better results!
When it comes to popular pages, as much as you may dislike following the crowd, it’s almost always the best thing to do with external links. A page with lots of traffic and links pointing to it will undoubtedly be popular for a reason, with quality, engaging content. And the more authority these pages have, the more value you’ll get from including links to them!