What is external linking?
External linking means connecting different pages of your website to relevant, non-competitive content outside of your domain with anchor text to:
- Provide better access to meaningful content for your audience
- Align content relevance and importance
- Provides SEO value by distributing authority and helping Google to understand what you are providing to your audience and the value of that information
How to do it
Start by identifying the different sub-topics of your content. If you had an article called “Making the Perfect Sandwich.” It would be safe to assume that the sub-topics of your article would be things like “Bread,” “Cheese,” “Deli meat” and “Condiments.” Let’s take the topic of “bread” as an example. In your section about “bread,” you may mention “fresh baked bread.” This would be the perfect opportunity to use anchor text to link to an article in another domain about baking bread.
Why this is important
- It helps your audience get to other pieces of content that they may also find useful or enjoy.
- Complements your content by showing legitimacy as a reference
- Helps Google connect the different pages and topics of your site
What are the right links to use?
Going back to our example of “baking bread”, you would obviously use a link that has relevant content about baking bread. But of all the articles on the internet about baking bread, which article do you choose? In this case, use the Content Analyzer solution in the MarketMuse platform to help you find the most topically relevant (and topically covered) page that ranks for “baking bread.” Just enter “baking bread as the focus topic and click “analyze.” Here’s an example of this for “baking bread”:
Top ranking doesn't always mean proper content coverage. The pages ranked 2 and 3 have rather poor coverage compared to rank 1 and rank 8. You’ll want to choose one a page that was proper coverage, aligns with your content, and also ranks well.
You can even take it a step further and refine your search by making the focus topic more refined. For instance instead of “baking bread” and could try “baking whole grain bread” or “baking organic whole grain bread.” The idea is to provide a link that is not only ranking well but is also providing the most value to your reader.
Won't this cause people to leave my site?
Yes, but that is not a bad thing. It will be a small number and it should not have an impact on your site’s performance. In reality, it will help to weed out traffic that is not appropriate or qualified for your content (or site).
Important Do’s and Don’t
DON’T link to a competitor. It will give them a positive backlink from your domain and will also tell search engines that their page is more relevant.
DON’T link to a similar page. If the focus topic of the content is “building a sales team”, don’t link to another article with the same focus topic. It won't provide SEO value or value to your reader.
DO link to complementary or supporting content that are relevant to your subtopics. Here is a diagram on an article with a focus topic of “Coastal Maine” and subtopics of “Rocky Coast,” “Marine Life,” and “Waterways”. The externally facing linked content is supportive of the subtopic and would provide value to the user: