An external link is any link on a site, which points towards a page on another domain. The key difference between internal and external links is that the former points towards pages on the same domain it exists on, while an external link points to a different domain. By adding connections to other websites, you can show content which is relevant to your users.
The importance of links in search rankings
External links play a huge part in Google’s search ranking algorithm. This is because links between websites act as a voting system for the Internet. By featuring an external link on your domain, pointing to another, you are essentially giving that site your stamp of approval and saying, “yes, this site has good content, which is why I want my users to see it”.
Similarly, if there are many websites linking to your website, they are voting in favour of its quality. This can be beneficial for your website’s rankings. External links from other websites to yours are often called backlinks.
Google judges the quality of links to a website as more valuable than the number of links. Attempting to buy large quantities of links can result in Google giving your website a manual or algorithmic penalty. This is because it sees this practice as a means of manipulating the link-based voting system. This can mean your website as a whole, individual pages, and rankings for specific keywords are negatively affected. In some instances, your website can be removed from the search engine index altogether.
If your site does contain paid links, it is important to implement the nofollow value to the link to prevent search engines from using the link to influence the rankings of the target domain of that link.
Links pointing towards good quality pages with content which is relevant to your site are encouraged and are important in helping your users find more information that is relevant to them.
Featuring external links on your site
Linking to other domains from your own site is a useful tool for marketers for a number of reasons. Featuring a link that is relevant to a user’s query can make your content more relevant for them. For example, if your site features a blog comparing the best laptops for under £300, then it may be a wise move to link to the manufacturer’s site or a vendor that sells the particular product. It will be easier for your readers to make a purchase.