June 28, 2022

Is Linking Externally Detrimental to Social Post Reach?

Is Linking Externally Detrimental to Social Post Reach?

At Orca Online, we spend a lot of time working with our clients on their social media.

It is important to us that their posts get as much bang for their buck as possible by reaching the largest possible audience and encouraging engagement.

It is rumoured that social posts with links to external sites have considerably less reach than ones without external links.

It is thought that social networking sites’ algorithms recognise that you are trying to send someone away from their site and punish you accordingly.

We recently conducted an experiment where we tested this hypothesis.


Our Experiment

We used a client’s social posts to experiment with including and excluding an external link and measured the results.

Below is an image of some of the results we achieved (we have redacted our client’s sensitive information).

Social Results for Blog

The orange column shows the reach of the post, while the turquoise column shows the engagement.

The posts in green boxes are posts that did not include any external links.

As you can see, the posts without external links performed significantly better in terms of both reach and engagement.

In our experiment, social posts with no external link had an average engagement of 352.3 people. In comparison, posts with an external link had an average engagement of just 139.1 people. That’s quite a statistically significant difference.

Similarly, posts with no external link received an average engagement of 19.5, while posts with an external link received an average engagement of 5.1.

Therefore, according to our experiment, removing external links can increase post reach by approximately 2.5 times and increase post engagement by approximately 4 times.


Other Studies

We are not the only ones to come to this conclusion.

This study by Hootsuite (link) found that LinkedIn posts without external links got an average of 6 times more reach than posts with external links.

Similarly, they discovered that tweets (link)  are also detrimentally affected by the presence of external links.

A study by Socialinsider (link) found that the inclusion of external links can reduce engagement by half.


What Can I Do?

Sometimes including a link on social media posts is unavoidable. Still, in terms of maximising your potential audience, it is best practice to avoid doing this as much as possible.

It may be possible to copy and paste the contents of the link into the post itself, thereby eliminating the need for the external link.

For example, we regularly post news updates for some of our clients.

Instead of posting a link to the news article, we now copy the contents into the post itself.



The evidence on whether or not to include an external link is becoming increasingly overwhelming.

Social media companies want to maximise their profits. To do so, they need to keep users on their websites to continue to show them adverts.

Consequently, they will penalise anyone who tries to remove users from their sites.

If you would like to find out more information about social media best practices, contact Orca today.

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