External Linking

External linking is the practice of including links to other websites within your content. These links help search engines understand the context of the page, as well as providing a good user experience. There are several methods of external linking, of which Google handles differently, these are explored within our Hangout Notes, along with further recommendations.

The ‘target’ attribute within links does not influence ranking

April 7, 2022 Source

It was mentioned by John in this session that the target attribute within links is ignored by Google for ranking purposes, as it simply refers to how a link should be opened and Google only focuses on the href attribute. But if there is a blank href and a target attribute of ‘self’, then it’s likely that Google would drop the link because there is no destination if a link is pointing to itself.


Updating backlinks to a migrated domain helps with canonicalization

February 21, 2022 Source

An attendee was talking about a website migration from domain A to domain B. They were setting up redirects, but asked whether the page authority and rankings would be negatively affected if there were many existing backlinks that point to domain A.

John replied that setting up redirects and using the Change of Address tool in Search Console will help Google understand the changes that have occurred during a site migration. However, he said that on a per-page basis they also try to look at canonicalization. When dealing with canonicalization on migrated domains, John said that redirects, internal links, and canonical tags play a role —- but external links also play a role. What could happen, if Google sees a lot of external links going to the old URL, is that they might index the old URL instead of the new one. This could be because they think the change might be temporary due to these linking signals. During site migrations, they recommend finding the larger websites linking to your previous domain and requesting that those backlinks are updated to make sure that they can align everything with the new domain.


Many sites don’t require a disavow file

January 27, 2022 Source

One user asked about managing the size of their site’s disavow file. Only links that could make a user or Google think they’ve been paid for belong in a disavow file. That means that not every instance of a spammy or low-quality link to your site needs to be included in a disavow file. John suggested that a disavow file isn’t necessary for most websites (and having one could be causing more problems than it solves).


Google algorithms can still lose trust in sites displaying a strong pattern of manipulative links

October 30, 2021 Source

Google tries to isolate and ignore spammy or toxic backlinks. However, there still are some cases where a site with a very strong pattern of unnatural links can lose trust and be penalized with a drop in visibility.


No Need to Disavow Links From Sites that Have Decreased in Traffic or Popularity Over Time

January 7, 2020 Source

It can be natural for some sites to receive less traffic over time, so there’s no need to disavow links from sites that have decreased in popularity, unless the link itself is spam.


Rel=”sponsored” & Rel=”ugc” Attributes Aren’t Essential

January 7, 2020 Source

It isn’t essential to include rel=sponsored and rel=ugc link attributes, as some sites may find that rel=nofollow is working well for them. These newer link attributes can give Google more context around links, but it isn’t necessary to update all the links on your site if everything is working correctly.


Links Don’t Depreciate in Value Over Time, But Pages They’re Found on Can

October 4, 2019 Source

The signals that a link has won’t depreciate in value over time. However, the pages that the links are found on and link to externally may become less important over time as they are hidden deeper within a site’s architecture, especially if it is a site that is changed and updated often.


External Links Shown in GSC Can Contain Disavowed or Nofollowed Links

October 4, 2019 Source

The external links shown in Google Search Console are a sample of all the links found by Google, so not all of them will be displayed in the tool. The sample data may include links that have been disavowed or nofollowed.


Affiliate Links Don’t Impact Site Quality But Should Have Rel=sponsored Attribute

October 4, 2019 Source

Having affiliate links can be a genuine way to monetise a website, and this doesn’t impact the perceived quality of a site for Google. It’s recommended that you add rel=sponsored to these types of links, which means that they will be nofollowed.


Related Topics

Internal Linking Backlinks Anchor Text Disavow Deep App Links