As search engine algorithms have become more advanced, search engine optimization (SEO) in today’s digital world is one of the most important factors in generating valuable traffic to your website or blog. SEO can become a pretty complex process, which Moz does a great job of explaining, as Google weighs several factors in determining how credible your content is. This is why working with a digital consultant can be more helpful than ever, especially in terms of making sure you have a clear SEO strategy. However, a great way to easily improve your website’s authority or ranking is by linking content.
Before I get into the nitty gritty of how links are vital in improving your SEO, let’s first discuss the difference between types of links. In general, there are two types of links you should be using on your website: external and internal. Some marketers use the terminology outbound vs. inbound linking as well. These links do different things for your website, but having both is important for SEO. Internal links are hyperlinks directs the user to another page within your own website. So, for example, let’s say you wrote a new blog post and referenced a previous post that you wrote. That’s internal linking. An external link -- as you may have guessed -- is the exact opposite, where you are linking to content that takes the user off of your own site. A common example of using an external link is referencing to a case study or news article that is relevant to your post.
Internal linking is typically more common, as businesses understand that these links are necessary to keep their users engaged with their site longer. But many have trouble with understanding how linking a website externally and guiding the user away from your own content can be beneficial. First of all, you should always have your external links open in a new window -- this allows your user to check out the external content without fully leaving. Google actually recognizes that when you link to an external site, you are increasing the trust and quality of your own content, which translates into a higher SEO score in Google’s eyes. It is important to note that the quality of the external links you include are important to your site’s SEO as well.
You want to make sure the links you choose are valuable and credible, as this plays a big role in improving your overall quality score. This goes back to the idea that Google recognizes that all links are not created equal, and linking to websites that are known to be high authority sites will make a bigger difference in improving your SEO. Moz.com is a great example of a high authority site, as they have a pattern of generating high volumes of valuable traffic, and what do you know—we already linked to it in this blog ;-).
Another important part of linking content is to make sure your links fit naturally within your website. While having both external and internal links on a given page are important, you will want to make sure you aren’t just linking articles to meet your “SEO quota” and these articles are genuinely important to the success of your own content. Try to strive to have at least one of each type of link on any given page, but again make sure the links are contributing to a positive user experience.
Linking is an important part of your overall SEO strategy, and an easy can-do for any website or blog. It may seem like a small detail to focus on, but it really gives you a leg up over your possible competition, and is a great way to increase your overall traffic and quality score. Sadly, you won’t get a high-five from Google or anything to tell you it’s working once you put links in place on your website, so you’ll want to be continuously tracking your SEO efforts with dashboards and analytics.
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