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Are Outbound links good for SEO?

Uncategorized Aug 01, 2021

Are Outbound links good for SEO?

Outbound links are one of the many factors that can help optimize your site for searching in Google.  You might already be aware that you want other sites to give you a backlink (an inbound link) to improve your SEO, and to do internal links, but do your know that pointing to high quality sites also helps your search engine rankings?

What are outbound links?

An Outbound link directs your website viewer to a link on another website (not to your own), they are sometimes called external links or authority links.  They can add more information for the topic you are discussing, or cite research. In effect you are creating a backlink for another website.  Note that the term external link can include both an Outbound link and Backlink.

Do Outbound Links Affect SEO?

In a recent study 10 new websites were set up with the same targeted keyword, but 5 of them were also set up with outbound links to high quality sites.  As many other variables as possibles were kept the same between the sites.  After a number of months all of the sites that included the high quality outbound links were rated higher than those without the links.

That study is a good indicator that it is worth including some links to high authority sites on your own website.  If you think about it, every good research article cites its sources, so Google would expect some citations to demonstrate your expertise, trust and authority. However, you will notice ‘high quality’ being mentioned, the reverse can also happen if you link to low quality “spammy” sites, as you will likely have a negative effect on your SEO

There are additional reasons why it can also have the positive effects of:

  • increasing your relevance on a topic
  • improves your reputation and credibility if you are known to cite authoritative sites
  • Assisting your link building.  If you regularly link to a high quality site they will tend to view you in a positive way, and if you create valuable content that would be appropriate for their viewers they might backlink to you. 

Best practices for adding outbound links

Now that you know that it is worth adding outbound links, try to use these best practices:

  • Only link to website pages that are relevant to the topic being discussed in your post or page.
  • Use appropriate anchor text to help your user understand what content to which they will be linking.
  • Make sure you make the outbound link open in a new tab, so that your webpages doesn't close. Most website editing tools include that option when you are adding links but if you are working directly in HTML then add target="_blank".
  • Before publishing double check all links are still valid - you don't want a broken link. And recheck them regularly.
  • Don't go overboard with the number of outbound links, you don't want to appear spammy to Google.

Which websites should I link?

In a blog article, link to sites that backup your facts and relevant quality content, include research, include an infographic or image that illustrates your point.

But also don’t forget to link your website to your professional bodies and associations, these work well in your website footer.  That way you are reinforcing your authority and credibility on every page.  

How can I tell if a site is a high authority site?

You can usually tell if a site is a good authority, if their articles are well written, if they cite their research, and their information is relevant  However, you can also check their ratings at https://moz.com/domain-analysis, and I would be looking at a reasonable domain authority (it doesn’t have to be too high if it is a new site), and I would be particularly looking at the Spam score and checking it is low (eg less than 5%).

Two types of links - DoFollow and NoFollow 

There are two types of links and some of your page or post editors will give you these options when you set up a link.  A DoFollow link means that you are allowing the search crawlers to follow that link to the website.  It is the default type if you do not have the two options show, and is the one you would use in most cases for an outbound link.  The NoFollow link attribute stops the crawlers from going through to that website.  Hence it is not really appropriate in this situation, but it is more often used in comments on posts.  A NoFollow will stop your site from linking out to everybody’s links that they might drop into your comments (as they might be spammy).  

In summary, here are my top tips:

1) Make sure you only link to reputable sources. If you find yourself linking to spammers remove those links immediately.

2) Don't overdo it! You don't need hundreds of links just because someone told you to get lots of links to your blog post. It will actually make you seem like a spam site if you have too many.

3) Have the links open in another tab, so that they can easily come back to your site.

Is it the most important factor in gaining good positions in the search engine results? The answer is no.  But every little bit helps your site in search engine optimization, so go ahead and add some outbound links.

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