What are External Links?

External links are hyperlinks that point users from one website to another. They allow you to connect your site’s content to helpful resources around the web. Used strategically, external links can significantly improve user experience and SEO.

Why Use External Links?

There are a few key reasons to use external links on your website:

  • Enhance user experience – External links allow you to connect your readers to more information about a topic, product, etc. This gives them a smoother journey to the content they want.
  • Show expertise – Linking out to high-quality resources demonstrates you’re an authority on a topic. It shows you’re not afraid to point users to other great sources.
  • Gain trust – Referencing others makes you seem more objective and less self-promotional. It increases user trust.
  • SEO benefits – High-quality sites that link to your content may link back to you. This can help with domain authority and rankings.

In short, external links make your site more useful for visitors and can improve how search engines view your site.

Best Practices for External Links

To get the most from your external links, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose reputable sites – Only link to authoritative sources your audience will recognize. Avoid low-quality or spammy sites.
  • Use relevant anchor text – Anchor text should describe the page you’re linking to, using 1-3 keywords. Don’t stuff it with keywords.
  • Link to specific pages – Choose the most relevant page to link to, rather than just the homepage.
  • Mix internal and external links – Balance external links with internal links across your content to keep users on your site.
  • Track clicks – Use UTMs or link click tracking to see which external links get the most clicks from users.
  • Add context – Explain why you’re linking out and how the external content relates to yours.

Following best practices helps ensure your external links actually get clicked and confer SEO value.

Where to Use External Links

Certain parts of your content are well-suited for external links:

  • References – Link to data, quotes, or factual information from outside sources.
  • Further reading – Point users to resources to continue learning about a topic.
  • Product/service integrations – If you mention another company’s offering, link to their site.
  • Lists/roundups – For list-style posts, link out to each of the items being discussed.
  • Definitions – If you define a technical term or concept, link to a reputable definition source.

You can also link out from company bios, footnotes, citations, and similar sections where referencing external sources is common.Just be sure not to over-optimize anchor text, which could trigger a penalty. Keep anchor text varied and natural.

The Bottom Line

When used strategically, external links can enhance user experience, demonstrate expertise, gain trust, and confer SEO value. Be selective about which sites you link to, use descriptive anchor text, and add context around your external links. With a balanced, high-quality approach, external linking can significantly benefit your content and readers.

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