Glossary | 2 mins
Read the next term in our glossary
External links, often called outbound links, are any links hosted on your site pointing to a page from outside your domain. External links can be anchored in text, buttons, images, and other visual elements of a page, and can also be purposefully hidden from the average web user.
External links are an important topic within SEO as they can improve a site’s user experience, and help Google’s crawlers to assess the quality of the content hosting the link.
When a page on your site links to a piece of relevant and authoritative content, it will help bolster the authority of your domain and the specific page that hosts the outbound links. Aside from the improvement in authority in the eyes of search engine crawlers, these external links will also improve the credibility of your site in the eyes of human users by citing quality, authoritative content as references to the topic of the host content.
External links can also be beneficial for SEO as when you link to a specific site, the webmasters at that site will often see that you’re linking to them. This will improve the chances of the target site creating a reciprocal link pointing to your site, thereby improving your site’s organic rankings.
Though it’s certainly good practice to build logical, relevant external links from your site to external content, not all external links are inherently good for SEO, and it’s important to exercise caution when approaching an SEO external link strategy.
External links that point to spammy, low quality sites filled with paid links and ads will drive down the site’s user experience, and will likely be devalued by Google’s crawlers. Having too many external links on a single page can also hurt rather than help your organic rankings, by bringing the page above what is considered a healthy page link total. This is particularly relevant for sitewide links, such as footer or header links to suppliers and partners, where the number of pages being linked from can escalate to many thousand.
Having too many external links that are reciprocated by a single target site can also be harmful to your SEO. Although mutual linking schemes were a legitimate and effective way to quickly drive up a site’s rankings in the past, Google’s 2011 Panda update introduced algorithms designed to devalue this practice. Today, sites that have an excessive amount of links pointing to a site with an equally excessive number of links back to the referring domain can often be flagged as spammy, which will drive down their potential for strong organic rankings.
With each external link you add to your site, it’s crucial to assess the authority and value of the site you’re linking to, and to make sure that both the target and the context of the link makes it topically relevant to the page hosting it.
External Links FAQs
What is an external link?
External links are any links on your site that point to a webpage outside of your site’s domain. They can be dofollow or nofollow, and can use a variety of elements for an anchor, including text, images, and buttons.
How do you create an external link in HTML?
An external link can be created in HTML code the same way any hyperlink is created, by using the syntax <a href=”url”>anchor text</a>
Questions to ask your link builder