Difference Between Internal and External Links

Difference Between Internal and External Links

Link building is currently a buzz word in the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search Engine Optimizers use the term ‘link building’ frequently. But what really is link building? What links are involved in link building?  In a nutshell, not all links are the same and they affect your site’s ranking in one way or another.

In this article we are going to discuss the main links in the world of SEO; inbound, outbound, internal and external links. We also go over the difference between internal and external links. Read on to learn more about the links. 

These are links that point from one domain to another. They include all links from your website to others and all links from other websites to yours.

It can therefore be seen that external links can also be inbound links when they are coming from other sites to yours and likewise outbound links when they are coming from your site to others.

External links to your site are a good source of traffic, besides being important for ranking. These links from other sites to yours, add value only when they are from high quality and relevant sites. One of the most effective ways to add organic and high quality links to your site is to curate rich and relevant content.

Reaching out for opportunities to write Guest posts for other niche relevant sites is also a great strategy to earn backlinks for your site. 

Let us now get into more details on inbound and outbound links.

These are links from other sites to your site. Inbound links can also be referred to as incoming links or backlinks. Inbound links are very important for SEO purposes because they represent a vote of confidence for your content.

Inbound links are an indication that other websites find your content valuable and therefore worth linking to. Search engines pick on this vote of confidence and rank your site higher on search results.

It is important to note that back links are most beneficial when they come from reputable and relevant sources.

The process of acquiring backlinks for newer sites  is often painstakingly slow. One of the quickest ways to get high quality backlinks is submitting to directories like Yelp and Yellow pages.

Directory backlinks make up part of Google local search algorithm and they should be part of your foundational backlink strategy.

Outbound links are those links from your website to others. There is always some kind of controversy when it comes to outbound links because some people would wonder, why link to another site when you have worked hard to bring traffic to your own site?

Search engines crawl these outbound links and if you are linking to other authority sites, then you are more likely to appear on search results. One trick to keep users on your site when they click on an outbound link, is to have the outbound links open on a new tab.

Another example of outbound links is affiliate links. It is advisable to add a rel=”nofollow” attribute to your affiliate links so that search engines do not pass on the link juice to their sites.

Now that we have seen the difference between inbound and outbound links, you are better placed to  understand what internal links are. Just as the name suggests, internal links are those that interlink pages within your own site. A good example is the menu bar of your site that has links to other pages within your site. Also links between blog posts and other content within your site are all internal links.

To begin with, internal links are beneficial because they allow users to navigate your site and find all the information they are looking for. This will improve the time users spend on your site thereby reducing your bounce rate.

Internal links help search engines find and archive other pages within your site. Your site will definitely be indexed without internal links but it could take weeks or even months.

The structure of your site is highly improved through internal linking. Internal linking benefits both users and search engines and contributes to the overall ranking of your site.


External links are links to your site from other sites also called inbound links or backlinks. Likewise links from your website to other sites are referred to as outbound links.

Internal links connect different pages and posts within your own site. Both internal and external links are important for users and search engines. It is therefore necessary to have a long term link strategy covering both internal and external links.

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