As a SEO expert, one of the most common questions I encounter is whether it is better to have links from your own high-ranking pages or from other websites. The answer is not a simple one as both internal and external linking have their own importance in improving website visibility and building SEO.

Therefore, in this article, I will dive deep into the concept of internal and external linking, and explain how each of them impact SEO and what strategies you can employ to optimize them.

Internal Linking – Enhancing Site Navigation and Promoting Authority

Internal linking is the practice of using hyperlinks to connect one page of a website to another page within the same website. Internal links often appear as anchor texts or clickable call to actions on a page that directs users to related content on the same website. One of the main benefits of internal linking is better site navigation and improved accessibility for users. It enables them to easily explore and find content on a website, which can lead to increased user engagement and longer sessions.

However, from an SEO perspective, internal linking has many benefits. It aids in distributing link authority across the website, increasing page authority and improving the overall site ranking. By linking related pages with relevant keywords, internal linking creates a semantic relationship which helps search engines understand the context of the content on a website. Additionally, internal linking can help to establish website hierarchy and direct crawlers to the most important pages of a website, helping improve the crawl and indexing process.

For instance, in the context of an e-commerce website, you can link the product pages of one category to another category, or to the homepage, which can help users find what they are looking for and boost the ranking of the linked pages.

External Linking – Building Relationships, Authority, and Trust

External linking or Outbound links are hyperlinks that lead to other websites, which offer additional information or resources related to the content on your website. External linking is just as important, if not more important, than internal linking because it has a direct impact on the credibility, trustworthiness and authority of a website.

External linking can establish relationships with other relevant websites, that share common themes or interests, and provides reference points that enhance the content on your website. By linking to high-authority and reputable sources, search engines view your website as a reliable source of information and increases the credibility of your content.

For example, if you are running a health and wellness blog, and you cite a research article from the National Institutes of Health, it can build trust among your readers as they see that you are citing authoritative sources and providing them with scientifically backed information.

It is important, however, to ensure that external links are relevant and trustworthy. Adding too many irrelevant external links could harm your website’s ranking, as it may lead to user bouncing and negatively affect the user experience.

Conclusion – Balancing Both for Optimal SEO

Overall, both internal and external linking are crucial to optimizing SEO. Internal linking helps establish website hierarchy, improves crawlability and indexation, while external linking aids in establishing relationships, building trustworthiness and authority. Both strategies should be integrated holistically and in a balanced manner, to achieve optimal results.

When considering internal linking, you should prioritize the organization of the website structure, identify pages that need more authority and distribute internal links throughout the website to maintain a stellar navigation experience.

As for external linking, research relevant sources and cite high-authority websites to maximize your website’s reliability and trustworthiness. Ensure that your outbound links are relevant to your website’s content and add value for your users.

Ultimately, the most important thing to keep in mind is that SEO is not a one-time task but a continuous process. It requires consistent efforts to keep up with the latest trends and algorithms, as well as continued experimentation to set benchmarks and track the effectiveness of different SEO techniques. Testing different approaches to internal and external linking and measuring the results will help you discover what strategies work best for your website and reach the desired SEO outcomes.