External links are hyperlinks that direct users to domains outside of the site they’re on. In content marketing, they are usually included as references to original sources. This best practice lends credibility to articles, and provides readers with additional context to web content. Similar to a bibliography for a research paper or presentation, external links show the resources from which authors pulled data.
Why use external links?
External links provide readers with an easy pathway to perform their own fact checking or read additional information. Plus, external links give credit to the original authors, demonstrate reporting transparency and flow PageRank (also known as Link Juice.)
Google considers external links as votes for credibility and authority. The search engine rewards domains that receive a high volume of links from other reputable sources with more visibility in search results pages.
Google’s Search Engineer Matt Cutts has said that it doesn’t matter whether writers post links in the body of text – anchoring external links directly to words like the name of the report – or at the bottom of an article in a works cited section.
There is no added SEO value when authors link earlier in the article, but it can benefit user experience, Cutts said. Sites shouldn’t make internet users work to find an original study or visit a reference web page after reading web content. It’s best to be transparent and show readers the source from which information was pulled.