The world wide web is made up of links. One website links to another and pages and pages of content spanning the net are linked here, there, and everywhere. Your very own website probably includes a number of outbound links to websites and content that you think might be helpful or of value to your customers. Perhaps somewhere along the line you heard that the more you link to other sites, the better your chances are of ranking on a search engine. Now things are changing… what if that outbound link you feature on your website is actually considered poor quality and now your search engine rankings are falling as a result? Can that really happen? You bet it can!
Outbound links are links featured on your website that direct browser to external websites. In most instances outbound links are used to verify statistics or provide further information. If you use outbound linking for SEO, make sure that you are linking to (or linked to by) credible websites. This will boost your website reputation and credibility.
What Are Outbound Links?
By definition, outbound links are links on your website that direct a browser away from your site and to another source of information. It can get complicated for some, as it’s also called an “outbound link” when another website links to yours.
What is the Difference Between Outbound Links and Internal Links/Inbound Links?
The main difference between outbound and inbound links is that outbound links send you to an external source while an inbound/internal link merely sends your browser to another page on your website.
What you Need to Know
Generally speaking, outbound links are considered more valuable than internal links. This is because search engines such as Google value the opinion of others, and if many websites (especially those of a high quality) are directing browsers to your website, then your website is considered a credible source. The more websites link to you, the more your reputation will be positively influenced. Internal links can be manipulated by the website owner where as search engines consider outbound links harder to manipulate. This means that outbound links provide a more reliable overview of just how credible your content is.
How Do Outbound Links Affect SEO?
Why are outbound links important for SEO? How do outbound links affect SEO? These are important questions to be asked and answered. It’s also important to follow the rules. In Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, you will find that the search engine is quite strict when it comes to poor-quality linking schemes.
Below are a number of reasons why outbound linking is important and how it can positively influence your SEO campaign results:
1. Boosts popularity
Google search engine results are somewhat of a popularity contest. The more popular Google thinks your website is, the better it will rank in search engine results. The more outbound links your website has, the more popular it appears to Google.
2. Makes your website more relevant
Web pages with quality outbound links will be considered relevant by search engines and directly affects your SEO results. The more relevant a web page is, the better it will rank in a search result.
3. Boosts reputation
Who you are linking to and who is linking to you can have a direct impact on your reputation! If your outbound linking is connected to spammy content and sites, your reputation will be tarnished. If you focus on linking to high quality websites and content as part of your SEO campaign, your website and brand reputation will be greatly improved. A website with no outbound links will also be considered a “dead end”. People like more information and to be able to verify facts and figures, so including outbound links is somewhat important.
4. Increases the likelihood of reciprocal backlinks
When outbound linking to high-quality websites, you can only hope that they will link back to you. If your content is of a high quality and of value to your customers and you create an outbound link to a website that is considered an authority in your field, you greatly increase your chances of receiving valuable reciprocal outbound backlinks.
Nofollow Links vs Dofollow Links
When it comes to outbound linking, you will find that there are two kinds to consider as follows:
- Dofollow links – these types of links tell a search engine to follow the link. This means that the ranking or value of the target page can have an impact on your website’s ranking power in the end.
- Nofollow links – these types of links tell search engines not to follow the links, which means that there is less chance of the target page affecting your ranking power.
It’s important to know that by default, all outbound links are dofollow links unless you ensure otherwise. To do so, your code should include the rel=“no follow” tag.
When You Should Make Outbound Links Nofollow Links
Dofollow, nofollow, outbound, inbound – this can all get a little confusing. When is it appropriate to include outbound linking that is nofollow? It’s not as complicated as you think. If you want to send a customer on to further information, but don’t want that page affecting your ranking power, then a nofollow outbound link is suitable. This means that you are telling search engines that you aren’t particularly proving or voting credibility for the source that you are citing. If you don’t want to endorse content, use a nofollow outbound link!
Best Practices for Outbound Links
Want to ensure that you use nofollow outbound linking in the right scenarios? Best practices for outbound links denote that you and can should use nofollow outbound links if:
- You allow people to post comments on your website. This often means that people will leave links to their own content and you don’t want those links passing on ranking power.
- You allow paid content and links on your website. You might not want to pass on credit to every paid user on your website.
- You allow users to contribute their own content on your website. If you aren’t sure that you want to endorse the links that users include in their content, nofollow links can prevent your website passing on unwarranted credit to other sources.
- You include embedded widgets and graphics on your website. Often you might enjoy the widget or graphics, but that doesn’t mean that you want to promote or credit their other content.
How Many Outbound Links are Too Many?
Outbound linking is a good thing, but there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Including too many outbound links will be distracting for the reader and will push them away from your site. In fact, you may lose them along the way. It’s good to use just the right amount of outbound linking without bombarding your customers. The trick is to keep backlinks relatively sparse and to ensure that they are linking to authoritive sites only. Try keep your outbound links to around 3 per 1000-words of content. There’s no pressure to include more links if your content pieces are longer than this. Less is more.
If you want to use outbound linking for SEO effectively, it’s important to have a genuine and natural approach to your content. Understand that any outbound links should provide value to the reader. Before you include a link, consider if it the source is credible and whether or not the browser will find value in following the link.
If you need assistance with an effective outbound linking strategy, hiring a professional SEO services agency can be highly beneficial.