What's the Difference Between External & Internal Links?

External links point from your website to another website entirely, like:

  • The New York Times (www.nytimes.com)
  • Google (www.google.com)
  • AV Club (www.avclub.com)

Internal links point from your website back to your website, like:

  • The Donate navigation link that’s on every page
  • The link to your Privacy Policy that’s in your website’s footer—again, on every page
  • The link from your News page to another page on your site that details your Annual Dinner
  • The links to various products you sell that are all found on your Products page

Why should you care?

The WYSIWYG Editor provides you with two different ways of creating links. One is for external links, and one is for internal links. Why two different methods?

The CMS doesn’t keep track of your exernal links. If you link to page at The New York Times and that webpage’s URL (address) changes later, the CMS doesn’t know or care. It happily continues to point to the missing webpage at the (now broken) old URL.

On the other hand, the CMS does keep track of your internal links. If you change the location of a webpage on your site and thereby change its URL, the CMS notices and updates all internal links that point to that page. That’s fantastically useful! However, there’s a caveat to all of this nice link-tracking: the CMS tracks your internal links—as long as you use the correct method of creating those internal links.

So make sure you use the correct methods for creating external and internal links. By doing so, you’ll reap the benefits … and avoid the pitfalls.

As you’ll read in the next few lessons, you create external or internal links using different methods; however, you remove both kinds of links using the same button.