External Links Definition

What are external links?

External links are hyperlinks that take the user to a different page on a different website.

For example: 

External links, also known as outbound links, are hyperlinks that point from one website to another. Unlike internal links, which connect different pages within the same website, external links take users to a different domain altogether.

Inbound External Links vs Outbound External Links

There are actually two types of external links: inbound (the ones pointing to your site) and outbound (the ones on your site pointing outwards to other sites). In simpler terms, one type is the kind that sites are giving to you, and the other type is the kind that you're giving to other sites.

Inbound External Links (often called Backlinks or Inbound Links)

These are links coming from another website to your website. Think of them as "votes of confidence" from other sites. If a reputable website links to your content, it suggests they find your content valuable or relevant. Such links can boost your site's authority and improve its SEO, as search engines, like Google, view high-quality backlinks as a sign of a website's credibility and relevance.

Outbound External Links (often simply called Outbound Links)

These are links on your website that direct users to other websites. By linking out, you're providing additional resources or references for your readers, which can enhance the user experience. Outbound links can help search engines understand the context and depth of your content. However, it's important to link to reputable and relevant sources, as linking to low-quality or spammy websites can negatively impact your site's SEO.

In essence, while inbound external links serve as endorsements from other websites to yours, outbound external links are your endorsements to other websites. Both types of links play integral roles in a website's SEO strategy and overall online ecosystem.

How External Links Can Help SEO

External links, often termed outbound links, are hyperlinks directing users from one website to a completely different one. This is distinct from internal links, which connect various pages within the same site. External links offer several advantages for search engine optimization (SEO).

  • Firstly, they have the potential to drive visitors from other websites, thereby enhancing your site's traffic.
  • Additionally, by linking to established and pertinent sites, your content's credibility gets a boost. Such practices signify to both the audience and search engines that your references hail from reputable sources.
  • Furthermore, when your content is of high caliber, and you connect to relevant domains, there's a chance those sites recognize your efforts and reciprocate with a link back to you, refining your website's backlink structure.
  • Lastly, linking to contextually apt content can offer search engines more clarity about your content's theme, potentially elevating its relevance in search results.

How External Links Can Hurt SEO

Let's talk about the ways that external links might negatively affect SEO.

  • One way is by linking to websites that are spammy or of low quality. This can result in search engines penalizing your site or viewing your content as less credible.
  • Another issue to consider is over-optimization. An excessively high number of irrelevant external links might get your content labeled as spammy.
  • Don't forget about broken links. With time, external links can become outdated, and this leads to the notorious 404 errors. A routine check and update of your links is a good practice to prevent this from happening.
  • Lastly, pay attention to the user experience. You could inadvertently disrupt it by including too many outbound links or linking to irrelevant websites.

What Are "Nofollow" and "Dofollow" External Links?

Nofollow and Dofollow refer to respective attributes added to an HTML tag's rel attribute, guiding search engines on link treatment.

Dofollow is the default setting for all links, implying search engines will use such links for your site's ranking. These dofollow links have the ability to transfer SEO juice or link equity, essentially aiding the linked website's search ranking elevation. Dofollow is implied, so you don't actually have to use rel="dofollow" as it doesn't exist. If a link doesn't have nofollow, then it's considered "dofollow."

Nofollow, unlike dofollow, involves adding the rel="nofollow" attribute, signaling search engines not to follow the link or transfer any SEO juice. The utility of this attribute comes into play when creating links to websites that lack your total trust or when your goal is to avoid endorsement or value transfer, like in instances of comments or promotional content. In their 2019 update, Google created two more rel attributes, rel="sponsored" earmarked for sponsored links and rel="ugc" designated for user-generated content such as comments, providing website handlers more opportunities to highlight the nature of links.

The vital point to remember is the potential usefulness of external links for SEO, but there is a need for measured and thoughtful applications to maintain user experience value. Regular activities of monitoring and refreshing your links (alongside comprehending the disparity between nofollow and dofollow) contribute towards a well-maintained SEO profile.