What role do outbound links has got to play when it comes to SEO?
Should I link to other sites?
If then what kind of sites do I need to link out to?
These are all the exact questions I’m going to answer in this post on outbound links for SEO.
Google spiders crawl the web with the help of links. Links are the building blocks of the Internet.
If your web page has no outbound links, it would be the dead-end for search engines.
What are outbound links? These are the links that are opposite of backlinks. If you link out to someone, some other site, it’s an outbound link.
Outbound linking benefits
People assume that by linking out to others, they’re leaking the link juice. So, they opt to be conservative not linking to others or nofollow the links.
You have to always link out to relevant content in your niche. The site to which you link should be of high quality, authority, and trust.
Google helps outbound links carry out the process of crawling. More importantly, it makes use of these links to examine the relationships between various pieces of content.
Spam blogs link to spam blogs. Good blogs link to good ones. If you link to good blogs, well, there’s a greater indication that yours too is good.
Increases loyal readers and customers
Here’s what Yaro Starak from Entrepreneurs Journey says,
Try some trackbacks today and see if it will open doors to new relationships with other bloggers.
If you link out to other bloggers, they receive trackback on their blogs. By this, they come to know that someone has linked to them.
They will surely return to your blog and check your blog post, read it thoroughly. If your post is of high quality, they will surely come to your blog occasionally waiting for new blog posts.
They may become a regular loyal reader. Or at least they’ll make a mental note of your blog. They will link to you or at least do a favor with or without their consciousness in the future.
Readers when reading your blog post, will find it useful when you have outbound links to resources that help them further.
When writing a blog post, at some places you feel like you need to link to some external content. In those times, feel free to link out as it helps you a lot to increase the user experience and your readers will find it useful.
Also make sure that you open the outbound links on your site in new tab, or else you may lose the readers while they are reading your post. You can make use of plugins like this one, to automatically open all external outbound links in new tab.
Outbound links – best practices
Dofollow and open in new tab
By using dofollow, you are permitting Google to relate your post with that of the linked post. If you’re sure that the page is unique and related enough, you are free to dofollow.
Nofollow should be used only in the following scenario;
- Affiliate links.
- Sponsored links.
- When referring or mentioning
siteor a post for some other reasons.
- Image attributions.
Nofollowing the relevant outbound links have great dangers:
- Hurts greatly to the topical relevance of the site (that’s why Neil Patel links to other relevant sites more often). If you
nofollowrelevant sites, Google thinks your content is not related to the sites you link. For example, you link out to SEJ and nofollowit, then Google thinks your site is not related to SEJ.
- Do not help you get featured on Google Knowledge Graph as Google tends to not associate (
nofollow) you with the quality sites you link out to.
- Google will decrease the crawl budget as you are not allowing it to crawl the relevant sites after crawling your site – your site will be an endpoint for it
. Search engines may struggle to understand what is and isn’t trustworthy and stop trusting your site altogether. I do wonder if continued nofollow‘abuse’ may open publishers up to penalties for incorrect usage of the tag.
- You disappoint the people who help you with content. People don’t want to help you (again). Because you signaled their site as not worth following to Google.
It’s always a good practice to open all outbound links in a new tab. You can do this by using rel=”_blank” in your link anchor tag.
Without opening external links in a new tab, you’ll lose your potential readers and customers.
Opening links in a new tab increases average page visit duration and decreases bounce rate. In short, it improves the user interaction with your site.
Add only when necessary
The moment I mentioned the above benefit. You may think, “Well, let me link out heavily in my next blog post”.
There’s something more that you have to know.
Linking out to other sites unnecessarily would raise a red flag. Google may assume that you are selling links.
The post to which you are linking to should be relevant to your post and should be of high quality. It should give more in-depth information about the thing you are explaining.
Google always checks the content surrounding the outbound link to understand the relationship between your content and the linked content.
“Content surrounding the outbound link matters in SEO”.
At least a line of your post should be related to the linked content. Avoid unexpected outbound link.
Prevent the question, “Why the heck this outbound link is here?” arising in your readers’ mind.
Anchor text guidelines
Anchor texts of your outbound links should be self-explanatory. Using anchors, like “this”, “check this out”, should be avoided.
On seeing the anchor text, both search engines, and readers should know what the linked content is about. This helps greatly in improving SEO.
Having your target keywords as anchor texts in your backlinks boost search rankings. Right? You know that.
In the same way, you have increased chances of ranking for the anchor text that you’ve used on your outbound links.
One of the keywords he was ranking for in the top 3 was one of these anchored outbound links.- Tim Grice from Moz Blog
Using LSI keywords, in the anchor of your outbound links helps a lot in ranking for the main keyword.
Avoid linking to these
These are the things you should never link to:
- Spam sites.
- Homepages of other sites.
- Sites having shallow content.
- Links that redirect or have nested redirection.
Count of links in your pages should be proportional to the amount of content. Suppose, say, if you are publishing a 2,500-word post, then even 25 outbound links will be fine.
You do need to remember that you have internal links too, so it may cause clutter. If you clutter your pages with links, it will make articles unreadable.
Too many links easily distract your readers to other pages.
Where to include outbound links?
The placement of outbound links is important.
Many of the blogs include outbound links all at once, one below the other or at the end of blog post.
This is a bad practice.
You should include outbound links naturally within your post. You can also include links at the end of each section of your blog post.
Links can be to other posts, resources, research papers, and infographics.
I often link to other case studies, experiments, statistics, and research papers and link contextually.
If your readers want to know more about a particular section of your blog post, then they can refer those outbound articles. With this, you can make sure that you are offering massive value to your readers.
As I’ve said earlier, the anchor text in your outbound links ranks you well. It’s a win-win situation. Both you and the person whom you linked to will be benefited almost equally.
While linking, the main key is relevancy. Include outbound links only when necessary. It boosts SEO of your blog.
Hope you loved the post. Remember the above guidelines while including outbound links in your posts.