External Links: Why Should You Link to Other Websites?
At first, it might seem odd that we should direct to other websites the users we’re always struggling to attract to our own domain.
However, when we realize the importance of referrals from other pages to the success of ours, we experience a change in perspective on external links — one of the most important factors of a link building strategy.
In scientific literature, the most relevant articles and researchers are generally those most quoted in other publications, considering that the referee’s reputation also adds value to the mentioned work and vice versa.
In search engines, the website authority and page rank have similar principles. In this article, you will understand how this works within the Content Marketing universe.
Check out the topics we’ve prepared:
Keep on reading and check it out!
What are external links?
If internal links are hyperlinks connected to other pages on your site, external links are those that point to different domains.
They are widely used to expose the source of information mentioned, but they can also be spontaneous indications of content that the author considers relevant to the user.
Of course, there is a difference between referencing and being referenced.
In the first case, we call these outbound links. In the second case, we have inbound links or, as they are now known, backlinks.
As you can see, the only difference between the two types of external links is the domain; that is, the outbound link of your website is the inbound link of another and vice versa.
However, we need to keep in mind that each of them has a different impact and plays a different role in your strategy.
Why should I care about these links?
Hyperlinks (or hypertexts) are one of the resources that shape the internet. However, they only started to play a prominent role in the arrival of search engines.
The first websites in this category presented results in alphabetical order or organized in subjects, which made the web search process similar to a query in any library.
Subsequently, new mechanisms stood out for adopting more efficient solutions to deal with the enormous volume of pages that appeared and reducing users’ effort when searching online.
The most successful of these was Google, whose algorithm uses the prestigious PageRank system, a project developed by the company’s founders as students at Stanford University.
Basically, this technology estimates the relevance of a page according to the quantity and quality of the links that point to it.
Of course, several other factors influence the ranking of websites on Google, but, as we will illustrate throughout this article, external links deserve special attention from SEO professionals.
What is the importance of external links for organic results?
In addition to being better indexed by search engines, high-quality content tends to be more referenced, as it presents important information to the public and its segment. This, therefore, must be the principle of your approach.
However, considering the notable influence of backlinks on the performance of websites in search results, it is worth betting on different means to increase them.
In the SEO Trends 2020 report, Larissa Lacerda, editor-in-chief at Rock Content Blog in Brasil, illustrated the importance of this practice for the performance of the company’s posts.
“At Rock Content, efforts to obtain external links are continuous and, for years, have helped us to conquer and maintain the first position for strategic and highly competitive keywords”.
Therefore, SEO professionals should not be restricted to technical settings and optimizations of their own content.
It is important to understand the relationships between websites in your area and build a good relationship with them.
Do my outbound links influence SEO?
We know that backlinks directly affect the organic performance of your pages in search results, right? But what about outbound links?
Some tests carried out by Moz suggest that outbound links also contribute to “domain authority”, one of Google’s many ranking factors.
However, this statement is somewhat controversial because, although the recommendation exists in the search engine’s guidelines, its direct impact on the ranking was never confirmed by the company.
Either way, Moz’s argument relieves marketers who fear that these links will shorten their pages and increase bounce rate.
However, either if this information is or is not true, the fact is that there are several other good reasons for you to use outbound links.
When are outbound links essential?
If you want other sites to link to yours, it is recommended that you should link to others, don’t you think?
However, this practice is not limited to a mere diplomatic attitude on the part of content producers.
If you want your buyer persona to find and enjoy the content you post on your website, you should spare no effort to make the experience on your pages the best possible — after all, your persona doesn’t have to make a lot of effort to find similar content on the web.
In this sense, we get to four situations in which the use of outbound links is essential. Check it out!
When your blog is not an expert on the subject
The internet is an open environment, and there is no way to prevent people from exploring it — neither should we try!
As much as your blog delivers a large amount of information, there are certainly some issues that may be tangent to your content, but that are not exactly your business’s specialty.
In such cases, if building a relationship of trust with your audience is important to you, why not give the floor to another website that can offer more details to those who are interested in the subject?
When you quote data and arguments
This is probably one of the most neglected best practices on the internet.
However, at a time so marked by fake news, informing the source of data, quotes and news has never been more important.
In addition, as we are trying to deliver a better experience on the website, it is strongly recommended to insert a link to the original content, whether it is scientific research or a news piece.
By doing this, in addition to making the information mentioned more transparent, you stop corroborating the spread of rumors (events and research whose source address is never mentioned), but which sometimes echo even in major communication portals.
When your site uses third-party content
There is no problem in using images or videos from other pages in your content, as long as this material has been made publicly available by its authors and you give it due credit — which, in a post, can be a link to the page where the content was originally published.
The use of excerpts from other posts, however, deserves a little more attention.
When too long or too numerous on the same page, they can be understood as plagiarism by search engines.
When you want to get the attention of a potential partner
Digital Marketing tools can easily track external links. That way, just like pingbacks were used in the past, outbound links can be used to demonstrate that your company supports another company or content and is willing to share it with your audience.
It may sound like a “shy” approach, but your results can be significant. After all, by citing other websites, you encourage them to do the same.
However, this should not be done indiscriminately. If the linked website does not find your link convenient, it may reject it, so try to create relevant links, and that makes sense.
What is the right way to use an external link?
Whether for inbound links or for outbound links, there are some parameters that influence the “weight” of external links in SEO, they are:
- website authority: a link from a prominent site may be worth more than several links from smaller sites;
- number of links: the number of external links is important, but their value is relative in view of the previous item;
- content coherence: links between sites with very different themes are not considered. When this practice is frequent, they can penalize domains for possible Black Hat practice;
- anchor text: the clickable text of the links must also be consistent with your destination, as it can influence Google’s understanding of it;
- spam: links in comments and automatic registration services are irrelevant and can also configure spam.
Above all, use your links naturally, including when partnering with other blogs. Thus, unnecessary repetitions and forced insertions must be avoided. Vary your links and anchor texts with the user page experience in mind.
How to manage your external links?
There are several tools for identifying and managing external links. Check out some suggestions below!
Google Analytics presents a series of functions to help us optimize the links on a website, including the possibility to list and track all the external links present on our pages.
After adding the Google Analytics tag to your website, just add the script for that function in the page header.
When you do this, all clicks on your external links will be listed in your event report.
Google Search Console
To discover your website’s internal and external links, you can use the Search Console.
Just select the “Links” option in the side menu to check a report with your pages’ external and internal links and some management options.
The tool presents a generous set of metrics that allow you to analyze the quality of your backlinks and keywords.
Other great options in this category are:
How to get quality backlinks? 7 tactics for you to use!
If you want to get links from other websites, think about content that is desired by them.
To conclude this article, we have put together seven tactics to increase your backlinks. Write them down:
- become a data source: even if you are not a research company, you can provide insights that are relevant to other sites;
- use the Skyscraper technique: basically, this practice consists of studying high-performance content (which has many backlinks) and creating a new one even better;
- use desirable content formats: tests, “why” or “how to” posts, infographics and videos are the most referenced types;
- create complete guides: if you want other websites to mention your page, say everything about the subject in question in a neat post;
- correct outdated content links: if your company has undergone any domain or brand change, you can contact the sites that link to your outdated URLs and ask them to create links to your new pages.
- be quoted in lists and resource pages: you can request links on portals that create pages with lists of websites, products, and tools;
- request backlinks in unrelated mentions: when a page mentions your company or its content, but does not insert a link to your site, you can also request it.
External links go a little beyond the usual optimizations and invite us to look beyond our “little corner on the web”.
Among many other aspects, they remind us of the importance of focusing on the user experience and prove that a good SEO job also depends on good relationships.
All the practices mentioned are very relevant to your blog’s success, but there is one that can certainly be a game changer for your business: interactive content!