Linking is essential to website building, yet it is often overlooked or misunderstood. It is worth noting that internal and external linking play different but equally significant roles in SEO and website navigation.
- Internal links are easy to create and control
- External links bring more value to a website in terms of traffic and authority
- Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to links
- Keep the anchor text between 3-5 words.
Internal links help users and search engines navigate and understand your website’s structure. External links, on the other hand, bring traffic from other sources and increase your website’s domain authority.
This guide will cover the basics of internal and external links, their differences, and the best practices for linking.
By the end, you’ll better understand the importance of internal and external linking and how to use them to boost your SEO and drive more traffic to your website.
So, let’s dive in and unlock the secrets of effective linking. Shall we?
The key differences between internal and external links
Here is a quick overview of the key differences between internal and external linking;
|Internal Links||External Links|
|Links a specific point to pages within the same website.||Links that point to pages on different websites.|
|Used for website navigation and to distribute link equity within a website.||Used to bring traffic to a website from other sources and to increase the website’s domain authority.|
|Often have descriptive anchor text that accurately reflects the content of the linked page.||It can have any anchor text, but it’s better if it is relevant to the content of the linked page.|
|Easy to create and control.||It can be harder to acquire but can bring more value in terms of traffic and authority.|
|It signals to search engines the structure and hierarchy of a website.||It signals to search engines the popularity and credibility of a website.|
|Internal links help users and search engine crawlers navigate and understand the website’s content.||External links help users and search engine crawlers discover and understand the relationship between the website and other websites.|
Note: internal and external links are not mutually exclusive. A website can have internal links pointing to external websites and external links pointing to internal pages.
How many internal and external links should I add to an article?
Link stuffing is a black hat SEO technique that involves adding many irrelevant or low-quality links to a website to manipulate search engine rankings.
Search engines like Google, Bing, and others have sophisticated algorithms that can detect link stuffing and may penalize websites that use this technique.
Link stuffing can damage the website’s ranking and reputation and even lead to the website being removed from the index. For instance, Google penalized over 9,000 websites for link stuffing in 2019.
The number of internal and external links to include in an article depends on the length of the article and the purpose of the links.
Here is a table with my linking recommendations for different article lengths:
|Article Length||Recommended Number of Internal Links||Recommended Number of External Links|
|Over 2000 Words||5-10||5-6|
Please note that these are guidelines, and the actual number of links can vary depending on the context of the article and the purpose of the links. Maintaining a balance of internal and external links in your articles is also important.
Avoid link stuffing. Remember that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to links.
It is better to have a few high-quality links than many low-quality links. According to a study by Ahrefs, websites with a high ratio of quality backlinks tend to rank higher in search engine results than those with a high number of low-quality links.
That brings us to the best practices for internal and external linking.
The best practices for internal and external linking
Properly structuring your internal and external links is crucial for SEO and user experience.
When executed correctly, internal links can help distribute link equity and boost important pages, while external links can bring in valuable traffic and increase domain authority.
Failure to adhere to best practices for linking can harm your website’s visibility and search engine rankings, ultimately leading to a poor user experience.
So, it is essential to take the time to understand the basics of linking and implement best practices for both internal and external links to ensure the success of your website.
Here are the best practices for internal and external linking:
- Use descriptive and accurate anchor text that reflects the content of the linked page
- Create a clear and consistent website structure and hierarchy
- Use internal links to guide users and search engines through your website
- Use internal links to distribute link equity and boost the ranking of important pages
- Acquire high-quality and relevant backlinks from reputable websites
- Use descriptive and accurate anchor text
- Use external links to improve your website’s domain authority
- Use a mix of dofollow and nofollow links
- Avoid buying or exchanging links
- Monitor and maintain your backlink profile
Anchor text and its impact on linking
According to a study by Backlinko, anchor text relevance is a significant ranking factor for Google. Websites with a higher percentage of relevant anchor text tend to rank higher in search results.
Anchor text is the visible and clickable text in a hyperlink. The text is usually underlined and appears in a different color on a web page, indicating that it is a link. Anchor text plays an important role in internal and external linking, and it can significantly impact how search engines understand and rank a website.
Anchor text provides users and search engines context about the linked page’s content. It helps users understand where the link will take them, and it helps search engines understand the relationship between the linking page and the linked page.
According to some studies, anchor text can account for up to 35% of the ranking factor in Google’s algorithm.
You should use anchor text when you create an internal or external hyperlink. Use descriptive and accurate anchor text that reflects the linked page’s content. Use it in the body of your content and any navigational elements, such as menus and sidebars.
For example, if you post about how SEO content can help businesses, link it internally using an anchor text like “SEO content for business.” This will send a strong signal to search engines that the linked page is relevant to the topic.
On the other hand, using irrelevant or inaccurate anchor text, such as “click here” or “learn more,” can dilute the linked page’s relevance and authority.
How many words should be in the anchor text?
The ideal length for anchor text varies depending on the context of the link and the purpose of the link, but a general rule of thumb is to keep the anchor text between 3-5 words. This provides enough context for both users and search engines to understand the topic of the linked page without being too long or overwhelming.
However, there are exceptions to this rule:
- Using the brand name as the anchor text may be more beneficial for branding purposes.
- For long-tail keywords, it may be more appropriate to use a longer anchor text, up to 7-10 words, to provide more context and specificity.
- Sometimes, a single-word anchor text can be used for internal linking. For instance, if you want to link to your contact page, you can use the word “Contact” as the anchor text, which is clear for both the user and the search engine.
Internal and external linking are essential for website navigation, SEO, and driving traffic. Properly structuring your internal and external links, following the best practices, and using relevant and descriptive anchor text can improve your website’s visibility and search engine rankings.
However, avoid link stuffing, as it can lead to penalties from search engines and harm your website’s reputation.
Now that you have a better understanding of internal and external linking, you may be interested in learning more about another important aspect of website building, content structure.
The Secret to Crafting the Perfect Content Structure will guide you comprehensively on how to organize and structure your content for maximum impact. Learn more and take your website scaling skills to the next level.