For Starters… How Do Outbound Links Help With SEO?
It is easy to understand how inbound links to your website are beneficial. Other sites that link to you send you visitors (Yay!). But what about outbound links? The most common question I hear on this is “why would I want to send people away from my website?” Well, the big picture answer is that this is how the web works. It’s an interconnected network of websites. When high quality websites lead to other great websites, everyone benefits. Search engines want to lead users to relevant, high quality sources of information, and outbound links (and the quality of site being linked to) play a role in where you rank in the search engines. This is a subject many have gone into great detail on, but I’ll stick with this brief explanation for now.
Not that long ago, when SEO experts were implementing outbound links, there wasn’t too much consideration for the relevance of the link to the page copy it was found in. This practice lead to “gaming the system”; linking out to popular websites/pages that in many cases made no sense compared to the page it was linked from. While this initially delivered positive results, search engines like Google were quick to act and changed how they analyze outbound links. Now, those using contextually relevant links are rewarded, while those with less relevant, poor quality links are penalized in rankings.
Linking out to other sites is definitely important and something that should be done as part of a well-rounded SEO strategy, but who and what you’re linking to matters a great deal. One will help you, while the other can cause a drop in rankings. Outbound links you create in your page copy should be highly relevant to what you’re writing about. Who you are linking to also adds relevance to who you are with the search engines, and this all works in your favor.
So, basic rules of thumb to follow here are:
- Write the best quality page copy you can. Poor quality page copy can in some cases be interpreted by the search engines as on-page spam.
- Try and write page copy that is at least 200 words.
- Try to make sure the site you’re linking to is a high quality source of information with well written page copy, and doesn’t link to spammy sites.
- Optionally, see if you can get a reciprocal link. Reciprocal linking is one of the most effective methods of grass-roots marketing.
Reference/Source Article: Context in Outbound Links for High Ranking SEO by Roger Montti