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External link


An external link is a link (also a hyperlink, backlink, or web link) between two web URLs located on different domains. By clicking on such a link, the user gets from a URL on one domain to a URL on another domain. 

Web links are classified according to numerous characteristics, and one of the most important of these classifications is by the linked domain. Here, external links are opposed to internal links. 

Unlike internal links, which go between pages and resources on the same domain, external links must connect pages and resources on different domains.

A few other types of link classifications are:

  1. Inbound vs outbound links. Both internal and external links might be classified by link direction. For example, if page A contains a hyperlink to page B, this link is considered an outbound link for page A (that is, the one going from the page) and an inbound link for page B (going to that page).
  2. Text vs image links. Another possible classification considers how the link is formatted. If a link uses clickable text, also known as anchor text, it is called a text link. While an image link uses a clickable icon or image.
  3. Footer vs menu vs content links. And finally, we can distinguish between web links by their placement on the linking page. I.e. whether the link is placed within the page’s main content or it’s included in the page’s navigation menus or footer.

An outbound external text link from https://mywebsite.com to https://anotherwebsite.com should be formatted like this[1]

<a href="https://www.anotherwebsite.com">anchor text</a>

An outbound external image link, in this case, will look something like this:

<a href="https://www.anotherwebsite.com"><img src="mywebsite.com/image.png" alt="text describing the image"></a>

There are plenty of SEO tools to use when you need to find the list of external backlinks. 

One of these tools is Google Search Console - a free tool designed by Google to help webmasters adjust their websites for Google’s search algos. If you have the website’s Google Search Console account at your disposal, you can browse to the Links section to see a big portion of the inbound external links the website has:

The Links report in Google Search Console

Unfortunately, the tool's unable to show all of the inbound external links, it only shows a sample of them. So, for the full list of backlinks, you will have to resort to other backlink checker tools

For the full list of outbound internal links, i.e. the external URLs that your website links to, you’ll need to crawl your website with special SEO spyder software.

Checking outgoing links in WebSite Auditor

External links are one of the cornerstone concepts in SEO as they remain a key factor modern search engines use to identify site authority and credibility.

For search engine algorithms, a backlink is the so-to-say “vote” of credibility one website sends to another. And the more votes a website gets, the more likely it is to be of good quality. 

External links lay the basis of such SEO concepts as “link authority” and PageRank[2].

What are the external linking best practices? 

Linking only to relevant resources

The content of the linking page should be relevant to the content of the linking page. Irrelevant links might be considered spam signals.  

Linking to credible sources

Linking to low-quality spammy websites puts the website into the so-called "bad neighborhood", which might also signal its questionable quality. Linking to credible sources, on the contrary, causes positive reputation association. 

Keep the ratio of internal to external connections reasonable

An excessive amount of external links is a characteristic of link farms (websites built specifically for the purpose of SEO manipulations).

Mark sponsored links

Placing paid links is only allowed when they are specifically marked as “sponsored”. The practice of placing do-follow links for money is prohibited.

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