SEO Tutorial Series – What’s The Difference Between Internal And External Links?

internal links and external links

Internal links and external links are crucial for search engine optimization (SEO) making up the most significant portion of “off-page SEO.” The quality of your website’s internal links and external links can directly impact how well or how poorly your page ranks within the results of a search engine.  CourseVector has created this simple guide to help you understand the importance of linking and the differences between internal and external links.

What Are Internal Links?

An internal link is a hyperlink that points to another page on the same domain.  The use of internal links allows relevant content to be connected throughout your site enabling users to navigate the pages of your website better.

More Than Just Navigation

Most importantly,  internal links help establish information hierarchy and spread ranking power.  For search engines to crawl your site, it must have a crawlable link structure.  A crawlable link structure will allow for search engine spiders to locate the individual pages of your website and store them in their massive keyword database.  Think of your site structure as a pyramid with the top being your homepage; this structure ensures ranking power can flow throughout your entire site, therefore increasing the ranking potential for each page.

Rules for Internal Links

  • Make Links Useful & Relevant
  • Avoid Keyword Stuffing

What are External Links?

An external link is a hyperlink that points to a page on another website separate from the original domain.  Similiar to internal links, external links allow relevant content to be connected. However, the reason to utilize external links is slightly different.

Most SEO professionals believe that external links are the single most significant source for obtaining higher rankings.  Why?  Search engines consider external links as third-party votes towards ranking.  When another website links to yours, it is more beneficial than you linking to your own page.

Determining The Value

External links are an easy way for search engines to trace and assign site rankings.  When determining the value of external links, search engines use a specific algorithm.

  • The relationship between the two sites
  • How trustworthy is the linking domain
  • The popularity of the linking page
  • The relevancy of the content between the two pages
  • The number of links to the same page from the linking domain
  • And much more!

According to a Search Engine Land article, “The best links in the world won’t achieve anything if they point to a site that’s a mess from a technical standpoint.” Make sure that your navigation is in tip-top shape to maximize the impact of other SEO efforts, including link building.

Whether using external or internal links, keep these recommendations in mind as links can directly impact your websites ranking ability and user experience.

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