Internal Links, External Links & Backlinks: What They Are and Why They Matter

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Links make the internet what it is. They are roads and bridges to all the content we know and love.  But there are many different types of links. In this video, we examine the difference between internal links, external links, and backlinks.

Video Transcript:

We’re going to be looking at internal links, external links, and backlinks, what they are, and why they matter. Before we get into the different types of links, let’s talk about why links are important.

The internet is based on links. It’s based on linking pages, content, resources, and data. It’s all about creating these connections, and links are how we connect. This is how web crawlers go from one page to another to crawl sites, to understand the connections between them, but also to understand and find new pieces of content. Without links, web crawlers would never be able to find your content. They would never be able to see your website pages. Links are also important for a user. Links help users go from one page to another. It helps them go deeper into your site, but also helps them find other relevant pages online. Without links, the Internet would not be the Internet. There are three basic types of links. We’re going to see internal links, external links, and backlinks.

Today, we’re going to go more in-depth into each type of link. Here is a quick overview.

  • An internal link is a page from one of your pages to another one of your pages.
  • An external link is a link from one of your pages to somebody else’s page. This could be their website or another resource online.
  • A backlink is a link from somebody else’s page coming into your page. These are all different types of links.

They all have purposes, and they can be very beneficial for both marketing and user experience.

Internal links generally have two purposes. The first purpose is to connect site users with other relevant content on your site. You use internal linking to move somebody from one page to another or to find other resources on your site that either can back up what you’re talking about, or add to the conversion. Internal links are the road map that helps users find content within your website.

From a web crawler standpoint, which is the second purpose, they also help crawlers find relevant content. But it also helps crawlers understand the structure and the flow of your website. Internal links make the crawling process more efficient. If the crawling process is more efficient, the web crawlers can spend more time on your site, can get more of the context of your site, and this can help when it comes to indexing, making sure that your pages show up in search and making sure that your pages are in the index and are being indexed properly. Internal links have a big role in both the user experience and SEO best practices. Utilizing them well will improve how your content is recalled in search.

On our blogs, we also use internal links in a couple of ways. We can post by topic. You can go to a topic page using an internal link. And we also have a section here that breaks it down into relevant categories of things that we do as an agency. So I need help with content or SEO, and these are all internal links to these core services, pages, or solution pages to help people reading go deeper. We have internal links in the form of images as well. These are popular posts. If you click on these images, it will take you to another piece of content within our site.

Internal links can be used to really navigate through our site and to move from one piece of content deeper to another.

External links are typically used in the following ways. We would use external links to cite content or resources. Let’s say we make a claim on our blog. We would want to cite the source that we got some information from. These resources would be a link. That’s the original thought process behind external links. We’re linking out and citing our sources. One example of an external link is when you borrow an infographic.

We would link back to that page or that infographic. There are a number of ways that we can use external links to cite sources. Another type of external link would be from user-generated content (UGC). One example of this is when someone leaves a comment on your site.

External links can increase the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (or EAT) of your content because you reference other authoritative sources. When you link externally to really high-quality sites, these sites can help substantiate the claims that you’re making in your content.

A lot of people are afraid to use external links because they don’t want people to leave their site, but there are ways around that. You can have them open the link in a new window.

External links are very beneficial and are something that you want to use on your site to help make sure that Google can understand that, “Hey, you’re not pulling this idea in thin air, that you have others that can back it up.” And those sources are authoritative as well.

It’s very important that you’re using external links. You don’t want to go crazy, but make sure that you’re citing your sources. First, it is the right thing to do if you’re taking an idea from somebody else. Secondly, it can help increase the expertise because it’s not like you’ve pulled this idea out of thin air.

Anytime we use a quote statistic from a case study, we use an external link. Additionally, when citing that case study, we’re telling people that this is where we’re getting our information from.

The third type of link is a backlink. Backlinks are essentially the reverse of an external link. Backlinks are foundational to SEO (search engine optimization). They are at the core of Google’s page rank algorithm. When Google came on the scene, this was something that was used to differentiate their results. Again, they were using backlinks like citations in a research paper. They were citing sources and saying, okay, if a high number of qualified sites say that this site is relevant, then we will also give that site more weight or more authority. This is why backlinks have gained so much steam since 2008. People started using black hat SEO and trying to get as many links as possible. The thought was that the number of links would increase their page rank.

Backlinks are extremely important, and it is a foundational part of SEO. But, site owners need to prioritize quality over quantity and make sure that they have linking relationships with sites that are going to help boost their authority. Don’t link to low-quality sources.

Backlinks still play a big role in search, and it’s still an important element of SEO and search marketing. But, you have to prioritize quality over quantity and understand that it’s about more than not having a bunch of links.

Wrapping It Up

Let’s wrap it up. Internal links. They have both user experiences as well as SEO implications. You need to make sure that you’re using internal linking to help crawlers and users find the content throughout your site. The next type was external links, and this can help increase the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of your content. Make sure that you are linking and citing relevant and authoritative sources in your content. Backlinks are foundational to search engine optimization. You need to have links from sites that are both authoritative and trustworthy, and that are in the same kind of niche as you or at least related to it, so it’s contextually making sense.

Backlinks are still one of the core foundational elements of Google’s search algorithm. I hope you guys learned something new today. If you have any questions, please comment below. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. And until next time, Happy Marketing.

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