Internal Links VS External Links: The Main Differences and Best Practices

Elen Mesropyan
24 April 2024
5 min read


Links can be categorized based on various criteria. For instance, based on quality (high and low), source (editorial, guest blogging), content (image, sidebar), and so on. One of the popular criteria is the source and destination of the links. Simply put, we can divide links depending on where they originate and point to. This way, links are internal and external. Let’s talk about how important this division is, understand which one wins in the battle of internal links vs external links, and which link to choose. 

Let’s go!

Internal Links and Their Purpose

Internal links are designed to connect two different pages of the same website within the same domain. For instance, a link in this article that directs readers to another article on our website is an internal link. 

Here is an example of an internal link to the LinkyJuice blog.

Internal links have several purposes, and here are some of them:

  1. Navigation improvement: Internal links have the great advantage of making the website experience more seamless. With their use, relevant information is simple to find, and website navigation becomes much more enjoyable.
  2. Hierarchy organization: Internal links help define the website's architecture. By specifying the most essential pages and showing how they are connected to others, it becomes easier for visitors to understand the site's hierarchy.  
  3. Search Engine Optimization: Internal links can greatly influence the search engine optimization process. They can improve page authority, increase time spent on the site, spread link equity, improve indexation, optimize for keywords, and much more. (We will delve into this topic later in this article!)

External Links and Their Purpose

External links are designed to connect two different pages of two different websites. For example, if I mention a Wikipedia article in this post, it will be an external link. For instance, an external link to Moz on our website can look like this:

External links have their certain purposes and advantages as well:

  1. Sharing Resources: As with the internal links, external links also direct to additional information, only this time, outside the domain. This way, resources give readers explanations to important data, and directs to the original site. 
  2. Improving Trust and Authority: External links can help in the process of improving the trust and authority of a website. When a writer gives backlinks to popular web pages, articles, or studies, he supports his point of view and makes his text more reliable.
  3. Fostering Relationships: Giving external links can be a great start to networking and building new partnerships. 
  4. Search Engine Optimization: Indeed, external links are used for SEO purposes as well. They help to increase website visibility, and rank higher on Search Engine Result pages. This part we will discuss later!

The Difference Between Internal and External Links

Here is a simple table that will help you understand the differences between internal and external links:

Feature Internal Links External Links
Connection Scope Connects pages within the same domain Connects to pages on different domains
User Navigation Enhances site navigation and user experience Provides additional resources and references
SEO Benefit Improves site structure and internal linking Increases domain authority through backlinks
Content Control Fully controlled by the site owner Partially controlled; subject to external site changes
Typical Use Case Linking to product pages, blog articles, or services Referencing external studies, articles, or resources
Impact on Bounce Rate Helps reduce bounce rate by keeping users on-site It may increase the bounce rate if users navigate away
Implementation Difficulty Simple to implement and manage Requires outreach and relationship-building
Appearance in Content Found in menus, sidebars, and within content Typically found within the body text as citations or references
Link Equity Distribution Distributes link equity within the same domain Transfers link equity from external sites
Influence on Metrics Affects internal metrics like average session duration Impacts external metrics like referral traffic and authority
SEO Strategy Supports internal linking strategy Supports backlink strategy
Value to Users Provides immediate navigation options Offers credibility and additional information
Inter-site Connectivity Connects related content within the site Connects to related content outside the site
Domain Authority Impact Enhances page authority within the same domain Boosts overall domain authority
Traffic Source Generates traffic from internal navigation Drives traffic from external sources

As you can see, at some points, external links, and at other points, internal ones win the Internal Links VS External Links battle.

Advantages of Internal links and External links in SEO

As we already learned, both internal and external links have SEO advantages. Let’s finally discuss them and understand how can internal and external links affect website SEO: 

Internal Links

  • Extending Link Juice:  Link juice, or link equity, is the value one page can give to another via link. Internal linking is a great strategy for extending link juice within a website and boosting rankings. 
  • Enhancing Web Authority: Internal links help you gain authority more easily than you think. Pages that have enough internal links have a higher chance of ranking. The point is that the pages have to be relevant and of high authority. 
  • Increase Time Spent on Site: Imagine you enter one web page and find it very interesting. Then, you figure out there are more resources, links, and information on the website. Internal links can allow visitors to explore more content, thereby decreasing the bounce rate.  
  • Improve Indexation: Search engines must index your site to improve its visibility. If you are wondering how to improve indexation and help search engines find your site, try internal linking! Create an internal linking strategy and improve your website visibility. 
  • Optimize for keywords: Internal links, inserted on keyword-rich anchors, can improve any SEP strategy. This way, they will help search engines understand your pages better. 

External Links

  • Improving Domain Authority: External links from high-quality and high-authority websites can improve your website’s authority. Reputable sources of information make it more reliable.
  • Increasing Traffic: Just like internal links help users explore more content on your website, external links are perfect for increasing referral traffic. If the external links are niche-relevant, new visitors from other websites can easily become interested in your content.
  • Enhancing User Satisfaction: By linking to high-quality web pages, you’re giving more value to the readers, thereby improving your content. All of this helps to enhance user satisfaction, making your content more engaging and useful.
  • Increase Time Spent on Site: Finally, just like internal links, external links also increase time spent on site. This happens because your content becomes more attractive to your target audience. 

Best Practices for Internal and External Linking Strategies for SEO

If you want your internal and external links to work at their finest, place them strategically throughout your content. When you have finally learned the difference, and have chosen between Internal Links VS External Links, here are some practices you should consider:

Internal Linking

  • Integrate relevant internal links: When using internal links, try to add contextually and topically relevant ones to maximize their effect.  
  • Use accurate anchor text: Avoid generic anchors like “learn more.” Optimize your anchor text and make it keyword-rich.
  • Do not forget to add links on the homepage: If you want to enhance user navigation and relieve link juice, consider this point a very important one.
  • Utilize tools: Check some instruments that can help, like this internal link tool by The Upper Ranks. They can help you learn how to find internal links in a website and automate this process. 
  • Update internal links: Just like you’re updating your website content, you should consider updating the internal links in the same way. Check internal links on your website, find internal link opportunities and keep them up to date.
  • Don’t overuse: Avoid link stuffing if you don’t want to get penalties from search engines. But how many internal links per post should you use? Generally, it is recommended to use 3-5 internal links per 1000 words.

External Linking

  • Link to high-quality pages: Even if the page you want to link to is highly relevant, consider its trustworthiness and quality. Only this way will you signal authority and trust to search engines.
  • Remember relevance: In the same way as internal links, relevance is of high importance to external links. Irrelevant external links can disturb the smooth user experience. 
  • Use “nofollow” attribute: If youre external links are sponsored, it’s advisable to use rel="nofollow" attribute. This way you can inform search engines, that your backlink is not for ranking purposes.
  • Tools, tools, tools: There are also helpful external links tools that let you check specific pages for external links. Check them out!


Actually, there is no battle between Internal Links VS External Links. Both serve unique and valuable purposes. The key is to understand when and where to use each type effectively. For well-written content, it is essential to use both. By understanding your objectives and goals, you can strategically utilize each link type to enhance your content in the best possible way.

If you have more questions, let us know, and we will help you with your internal and external link strategies! Book a call with our seasoned experts and get your strategic planning today!

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