In this blog, Matthew Creswick, Group Marketing Director at The B2B Marketing Lab, explains how internal and external links can help a business to improve its website's structure, build authority and help visitors find what they are looking for.
In order to have a strong search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy for your website, you need to use external and internal links.
Done properly, external and internal links can help build the credibility and authority of your website, as well as improve its overall structure.
If you're here because you want to learn more about external and internal linking, you're in the right place. Today, I'm going to talk about how external and internal linking can do wonders for your website.
So what are the benefits of external linking?
External links are hyperlinks from your website to websites other than your own.
Here's what they can do:
1) Make your site a more valuable and authoritative resource
To back up the points you make (and further establish your expertise and credibility) linking out to other reputable sources is a great idea.
In fact, by directing readers to information that can help them understand a topic or make an informed decision, you provide great value.
For example, if we were writing about why you should blog, we would link to HubSpot. HubSpot have a well-established blog and it attracts a tremendous amount of traffic due to routine blogging.
Another example would be to use quotes, statistics and information from other articles (and linking to them) to support the points you make. This shows your readers that your thoughts and ideas are backed up by others in the industry.
As your website grows, other websites will begin linking back to yours because of the quality and depth of its information.
2) Bring links back in by linking out
Linking out indicates to other businesses that you are willing to build links and share content online. Building links with other relevant websites is a great way to increase the visibility of your website and create new relationships.
Of course you can earn links by creating high-quality content that other websites refer to – but you can increase the number of links you earn by working with other experts.
For example, if we created an article on SEO advice and wanted to support our points, we would link it to Moz.
By linking to Moz, we can not only validate our points and provide readers with a valuable resource for further reading, but Moz will also be familiar with us and will hopefully use us a resource if they create content around Inbound Marketing.
So, why should you link content internally?
Internal links are links that go from one page on your website to another page on your website.
Here's what they can do:
1) Make your site easy to navigate
For instance, let’s say you have a blog on buyer personas and within it you talk about ‘content strategy’. The reader wants to learn more about content strategy and you have a blog on it, but it’s not linked to the buyer persona blog.
The reader then has to go into your blog archives to find the blog on content strategy – something they would not have needed to do if you just linked to it.
Internal linking improves the overall user experience and makes it easy for visitors to find what they are interested in. If your site is easy to navigate and has loads of valuable content, people will be more likely to come back!
2) Move more website visitors through the buyer journey
Internal linking isn’t just about site navigation. Linking content to other relevant content on your website can help to move website visitors through the buyer journey.
For example, if you have a blog on the best marketing automation platforms and an in-depth comparison guide of those platforms, why not link to the guide in the blog?
If someone is reading about the best marketing automation platforms, would it not be fair to say they want to know the pros and cons of each?
You should do this for all your content assets. If you talk about several different things in your content and have supporting content for those things, link to them!
3) Search engines will understand your website
As well as making it easier for visitors to navigate your website, internal linking will make it easier for search engines to understand the relationships between pages.
Google’s crawlers will readily index pages that are easy to find and understand – but what about pages deeper in your website?
As your website grows, some of your older pages can become disconnected from the rest of your website as you focus on linking to new content assets.
Furthermore, by using internal links you can signal to Google (and other search engines) which pages are important and have more value than others.
4) Spread link equity
One of the best things about internal linking is its ability to spread link equity.
When you build backlinks to specific pages on your website, you highlight to search engines that those pages are important. What this means is that when one page does well, so do those linked to it.
Ideally, you want to have other pages pointing to your most important pages (i.e. service or product pages) to maximise value.
If you want to optimise your website for search engines and users, having an external and internal SEO linking strategy is key.
Remember: there is nothing wrong with linking out to other reputable websites; especially if it serves to help your readers. Just make it easy for them to find what they are looking for!
If you want to find out more about SEO best practices and how to optimise your website in 2019, check out this blog!
You can also take your content and SEO strategy to the next level by using topic clusters - download our eBook below and find out how.