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Search Engine Optimization Basics: How to Link Externally

Most people know that getting other people to link to your website is great. But fewer know how to correctly link externally – to link from their website to someone else’s website. In truth, while adding external links to your website doesn’t have an overwhelmingly huge affect on your search engine optimization (like getting external links does), there are a few things you can do to make external linking on your website work to your advantage. How can you do it right? Here are our five best tips from us to you:

• Only link to high-quality websites. Just as you can learn a lot about a person from their friends, you can learn a lot about a website by who they link to. Make certain that any external links (links that leave your website) go to sites that are informative, accurate, and well respected. Try to stay away from sites that are spammy, filled with advertisements, or simply poorly kept. Good examples of high-quality websites include government organizations, news sites, and educational sites.

• Choose links that are useful and interesting for your users.
It’s not enough to link to high-quality websites, you also need to ensure that they are relevant. To accomplish this task, think first and foremost about your readers: what information are they looking for? What question are they trying to answer? How can you be helpful to them? A link should add to the content already on your page; for example, it may allow a reader to see primary source material or related statistics. A link should support your content and add depth to your content, not distract from it.

• Open external links in new tabs. When you create a hyperlink in your text, you will have to option to their open the link in the same tab or in a new one. Always make sure to use the new tab option. For search engine optimization purposes as well as conversion purposes, you want your users to stay on your website for as long as possible. If you don’t open external links in a new tab, you are showing them the door! If you open external links in new tabs, your user can explore outside information without losing track of your website.

• Link to build strong relationships. Linking isn’t just for users and search engine optimization. It can also be used to build personal relationships between you and business partners. Done in the right way, and with useful, relevant links, link exchanges can be beneficial to both parties. One good example of a link exchange would be a guest blog: you ask an expert in your field or industry to write a guest blog post and he or she writes about the post on their own website (or you could exchange guest blog posts).

• Don’t over-link. There was a time in the past when we thought more links were better – but this simply isn’t the case. Too many links can distract and confuse users. In addition, too many links can send up a red flag to Google and other search engines that you are either trying to game the system or engaging in spammy behavior. Only use external links when it is necessary, helpful, and relevant. Try not to include more than a two or three external links per page, if possible.
Remember: Many of the rules of external linking are just common sense: don’t link too much, don’t link to poor websites, and don’t encourage your users to leave your website in the dust!

Do you need assistance with your external links, your search engine optimization, or your website content? We can help. Contact Design Missoula to learn more about our services and to find out how you can improve your business’ online presence: Call (406) 370-6353 or fill out our online contact form.

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