External links are hyperlinks that reference an external domain.
As an example, if you were to obtain a link from another website, this will be called an external link because they are linking to another URL outside of their domains IP address.
Search engine crawlers navigate from page-to-page using hyperlinks, the links are essentially the streets between the pages that not only guide users to other pages but also crawlers. If no links are present, users aren’t able to navigate to other areas of the site, therefore their ability to navigate and access more data is restricted.
In the SEO world, links play an important role in bettering the search engines understanding of how certain pages are contextually related, this doesn’t just apply to internal links but external too. If you’re aware of other sites that have external links pointing to your site, this will help increase your search engine ranking, as it’s signalling to Google that your page is somewhat contextually related.
It’s almost as if the site is ‘vouching’ for your site.
Some interesting thoughts
- Industry SEO’s believe that external links are the best source of ranking power;
- External links are considered differently in the algo’s to internal links, because links from 3rd party sites are ‘votes’ or ‘vouches’;
- A lot of SEO’s believe that the ‘title’ link attribute plays no part in the ranking algorithms.