What Is The Difference Between Internal And External Link?

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Often times when talking about search engine optimization (SEO), the conversation moves towards links, backlinking, and link building strategies. I’d like to take a step back, and explain some of the basics about links. Let’s discuss the difference between internal and external Link.

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At the core, there are really two main types of links, internal and external links. So what is the difference between internal and external link? Both types of links operate in basically the same manner, they differ only in where they originate and their destination. Let’s explore this below.

The first type of link is an internal link. These links point from one place within a website to another place within that same website. Another way of describing this would be that internal links keep you inside the website. If we were talking about a house, an internal link would take you from one room to another, perhaps from the bedroom to the kitchen. Let’s go over a couple examples.

One example is the site navigation, usually situated at the top of a website or in the sidebar. These links typically take you to other pages within that site. Another example would be when a blog post makes reference to an earlier blog post and links over to it. Both of these keep you within that same site. They pretty much let you go to any room of the house, even the attic, but outside is off limits.

The second type of link is an external link. These links point from one website to another website. In other words, the link either comes from, or takes you to an external location. Using the same analogy as above, an external link would take you from your house to a neighbor’s house, the grocery store, or vise versa. These links can either be inbound (linking from another site) or outbound (linking to another site).

The first example that comes to mind is advertisements. People often advertise with search engines or via social media sites to drive traffic back to their site. These are inbound external links since they originate on another site. Another example of this would be articles, guest posts, or comments placed on other sites that contain a link back to your site. These are generally referred to as “backlinks”, because they link back to your site. Now on to outbound external links.

diffOne example of outbound external links is affiliate links. Many sites promote the products and services of others through affiliate programs, and are given special unique links to place on their site. These links point visitors over to the site that actually provides the product or service, and these sites pay a commission if a sale is made. Many sites will review a product or service, then have their affiliate link available for visitors to go and make the purchase, if interested.

The examples and definitions above have hopefully given you a better understanding of the difference between internal and external link. How they tie in to an overall SEO strategy is beyond the scope of this article, but both types of links do play an important part. The first step is understanding the basics, and then building upon that knowledge.

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