This is a frequently asked question which a lot of new SEOs tend to get confused by. To start, an internal link on a domain, as the name suggests, is a link on a page which keeps the user on the same domain. Just to give you an example consider a user is on your ‘About us’ page and at the bottom of this page you have a ‘Go to homepage’ link. The ‘Go to homepage’ link is called an internal link because it keeps the user in your domain. The main benefits of such links are
- Improved user experience
- Established web hierarchy
- Overall better ranking power
So what do these exactly mean? The first one implies that internal links make it easier for the user to navigate through your website. Inturn this provides the user a better surfing experience and thus it increases the time users spend on your website, which is generally rewarded by Google’s algorithm. To understand the second point we first need to know what is a hierarchy. A hierarchy is a structured manner of ranking web pages according to their importance. By adding internal links in your content you can guide the user and Google spiders to web pages which maybe offer them more content related to what they are currently reading, or, as shown in the previous example, to the main page (your homepage). The last point sums it up all together. Google loves a well organized website which keeps the users engaged and thus increasing your ranking power.
On the other hand, an external link is a link on another domain which links to your site. These types of links weigh a lot more than internal one, especially if they are on a site which is in the same industry as yours. For an example, we have a car dealership website and someone has a site called ‘Economic Cars’. If he inserts a link on his content which redirects the user to our car dealership site then that is called an external link. Since both websites are car related then that link weighs much more and is greatly reworded by Google ranking factor than if it was not, example a Lego toys forum links to our site. External links are a huge part of search engine optimization and although they seem difficult to get, quality content is the key. Through quality content which is keyword optimized (but not spammy) and good external links, one can get better results in the SERP.