There are three types of links that are important to any SEO strategy: internal links, external links, and inbound links.
- Internal links are those you create in your content that point to other pages on your site. They help both users and Google navigate a website and access its content.
- External links are those you create in your content that point to other domains. They strengthen credibility with audiences and search engines.
- Inbound links are create by other publishers that point back to your site and boost search rankings/drive referral traffic.
When forming a strategy for SEO links, it’s easy to focus primarily on earning inbound links. But a solid SEO strategy considers how to use all three link types to cater to the needs and preferences of both users and Google. Marketers must adhere to the best practices of all three links types to get the most significant return on SEO efforts.
Best Practices for Internal and External Links
The easiest place to start with a linking strategy is on your own site. On-site internal and external linking practices are essential for SEO:
- Internal links help Google crawl and discover content. While submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console is considered an SEO best practice, there’s no guarantee that Google will crawl and index every sitemap entry. However, Google will follow links within content to crawl and index the linked-to content.
- Internal links help Google understand the importance of content to the overall website. The design of a website’s navigational structure is essential for SEO. A site’s homepage is considered most important. Level two pages—pages linked to from the homepage or main navigation—are also critical. Content buried four or five levels deep within the site hierarchy signal low importance.
- Internal links can improve engagement signals. RankBrain looks at metrics like bounce rate, time-on-page, and time-on-site to determine how well an individual piece of content—as well as the overall site—satisfies user needs. By linking content to other related, on-site resources, it’s possible to keep users on-site longer, improving engagement metrics and boosting SEO.
- External links tell Google that content is well-researched. Citing sources is vital to credibility for both users and Google. Linking out to high-quality, authoritative sites and content shows that you’ve researched the topic and are basing assertions on reputable sources of information.
- The link was purchased (examples: display ads, PPC, or native advertising).
- The link points to an internal page that shouldn’t be indexed.
- The link appears in user-generated Cyprus Phone Number content (examples: forum posts, reviews, or comments).
When Developing an on-site Linking Strategy, Follow These Best Practices:
Design website navigation for users—not Google. What content is most important to visitors? That content should be easy to access from a site’s main pages.
Find opportunities to crosslink internally. When writing new content, look for opportunities to link to related content. Instead of explaining the same concept over and over again across multiple pieces, create a piece of content that explains the idea, and link to it when necessary. Revisit old content and add links to new, relevant content.