What is the Difference Between Internal and External Content?
by Kristine Pratt • August 13, 2019
The online domain is a wealth of resources for businesses seeking to promote their brands. Potential audiences span millions of users and a wide range of demographics. However, this also means you have a great deal of competition. So how do you stand out?
The answer is content.
Purposefully crafted content appeals to two very important audiences: users and algorithms. Engaging content can generate organic traffic as users like and share posts. This requires minimal promotion from your company, as the content speaks for itself.
On the other hand, algorithms scan for criteria that indicates content is relevant to a search. Useful content can earn higher result rankings, making your company more visible to searchers.
To create the most effective content, you need to think about its intended purpose. This includes considering its location on the web. The difference between internal and external content may be small on the surface but can have significant marketing impact.
What is Internal Content?
Internal content describes content on your business’s website. This includes text and graphics. For example, if you have your logo on your home page, that’s considered internal content. A small “About” blurb at the bottom of that same page is also considered internal content.
These are the most straightforward examples and are present in other forms of media, such as print. However, the digital space provides additional content options:
- Embedded videos
- Interactive forms
- The actual layout of the page
You may even have different types of text content, such as blogs versus branded webpages. Which type you create depends entirely on your marketing strategy.
What is the Purpose of Internal Content?
A major difference between internal and external content is the intended audience. Who is reading this content and why?
Visitors to your website are likely looking for information on specific products and services. They’re interested enough to actively seek out a professional. That means you don’t need to convince them they need professional services—just that they should choose yours.
Internal content is about providing necessary information such as prices and services, but also about selling your brand. If your company prides itself on having friendly service, the content should reflect that. If you position your staff as experts, the content should support that assertion.
How Do You Make Good Internal Content?
First and foremost, your content should be relevant. Visitors are looking for specifics about what you offer.
While it’s fine, even helpful, to add a little personality to your site, it should primarily deliver information. Talking about your family is great if the business is family-run or family-friendly and you want to emphasize that. Otherwise, your site may not be the place for it.
Your content should also be easy to navigate. This means separating information into clearly labeled sections with headers.
You can also use graphics to break up the monotony and make the page visually appealing. Since this is digital, you should also think about how visitors interact with your content.
Is your content easy to read on a mobile device? Can visitors scroll through and quickly find the information they need? Frustrated readers may leave for a more straightforward website if they can’t navigate yours.
What is External Content?
As you may have guessed, external content lives on a website other than your company’s. This is usually in the form of blogs, although this content can also include product descriptions, meta descriptions and social media posts.
External content usually has a larger, more varied audience. Rather than visitors coming to you, you’re going to them. You’re putting content out onto the web in hopes of it reaching interested parties. Think of it as casting your net.
What is the Purpose of External Content?
The biggest difference between internal and external content is purpose. Many businesses use external content as a way to drive traffic to their website, but it has other uses, too.
For example, a well-written article can build trust between your company and potential customers. You’re illustrating that you’re knowledgeable and professional, which goes further than just saying this.
External content is also an excellent vehicle for brand introduction and development. By choosing your posts carefully, you can build an association between your company and certain platforms, other brands or other creators.
How Do You Make Good External Content?
If you’re interested in shares, your external content needs to be engaging. Visitors shouldn’t feel like you’re trying to sell them something, even if you are. This means getting creative, doing a little research and focusing on quality.
You can also use external content as vehicle links to drive traffic to your site. Include links to relevant pages on your business website to provide interested users with access to more information.
That being said, make sure you don’t overstuff your hyperlinks. This can lead users to feel like they’re reading a sale pitch. Instead, incorporate links as naturally as possible.
Both internal and external content have value, but it’s important to understand the differences between the two and how to use them. Otherwise, you can end up confusing and frustrating your target audience.
How do you approach internal and external content? Do you have a favorite kind of content? Do you think one is more valuable than the other? Leave your thoughts in the comments.