The Internet is full of links connecting websites and specific pages. There may be pages on your website that link to other related content on the web.
But will these outbound links affect your website’s ranking in search engine results?
This page will study outbound links, what they are, how to use them, and how they affect your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
What is an outbound link?
Outbound links, which mainly get called external links, are what send your page visitors to your site and to other sites. Unlike the internal links that send your visitors to your other pages, outbound links send visitors to a completely different site.
If another website links to you, it is considered an outbound link. At the same time, if you link to another website, it is also an outbound link.
Generally, external links convey more value than internal links. That is because search engines believe that other people’s evaluation of you is more important than your evaluation. In other words, if more websites link to your website, you will become a more reliable source.
External links are also more challenging to manipulate, so they are one of the best search engines to determine a particular website or page’s popularity and relevance.
There are only two outbound link types: dofollow and nofollow. The dofollow links are the ones that give ranking power from your site to a targeted page. The nofollow links will no do that. Basically, a nofollow link is telling search engines not to follow their links.
By default, all links get automatically followed. To create a nofollow link, you need to add the rel=”nofollow” tag within the code.
Why are outbound links important?
Here are a few reasons why you should include outbound links on your website.
Outbound links can also affect the reputation of your website.
If you link to a spam site, it will have a negative impact on your website. The moment someone clicks a link to a spam site, they will remember where you sent it, and they will most likely associate your site with spam content. That is why link server farms and peer-to-peer link schemes are such a bad idea and cause fines.
Search engines like Google get designed to show searchers the most relevant results for their search query. External links are an essential indicator for determining the popularity of a given webpage. The more links a page receives from other sources, the more popular it is.
That sends a positive signal to search engines and can improve the page’s ranking in search results, which means more searchers will click and view the content.
Links also provide important clues about the page’s relevance, which is very useful for search engines. Search engines want people to find information that they searched for, and when there are links to useful content, you provide them with an excellent service.
Besides, the anchor text used in the link can usually be a good indicator of the content on the target page or website. For example, if you link to a page about cat food, you won’t make the anchor text “dog toy for sale.”
The target and source pages and the domain contained in the link also provide search engines with useful hints about a particular page’s relevance. Because links point to relevant content, search engines can better establish knowledge centers on the Internet, and they can be used to verify the importance of pages or websites.
Sites without outbound links can make your website appear unhelpful and negatively affect your ranking in search results.
Not including any outbound links on your website is like reading a research report without a bibliography. People will want to know where you get the information and whether it comes from an authority.
Adding outbound links to any authorized sources will improve reputations and make you appear helpful.
When you link to other reliable sources on the web, they are more likely to link to your website. And send a signal to others that you want to participate in the network’s natural link environment.
Including links to relevant content is a great way to incentivize bloggers, journalists, and website owners to interact with your website and link to your content. That can increase your website’s authority and improve your ranking in search results and help more people discover and interact with your company.
No matter how great your website is, it will not contain all the relevant information on a particular topic that someone might be looking for.
By linking to other useful content, you can increase your website’s value to visitors and make their experience more meaningful.
Ultimately, if people know that you post and link to high-quality content, they will want to keep coming back for more. They will consider your website to be a more valuable source of information on the web.
Will outbound links affect SEO?
Obtaining links to your website from other authoritative sources is an important ranking factor, which can help you show higher rankings in search results for keywords and phrases related to your business.
However, will the outbound links on your website affect SEO?
Recently, Reboot did a study that showed a relationship between ranking in search results and outbound links. Assuming a restart, Google can determine the page’s permissions or website based on the source it links to.
To experiment, the company created ten new websites, each targeting the same keywords. However, only half of the sites contain links to high-authority sources. All sites contain similar content and tag structure, although the difference is sufficient to avoid duplicate content penalties.
Restart, and then monitor and record keyword search results over five months. Every page containing outbound links had higher ranks than those without outbound links, and it was shown that the relevant outbound links that point to authoritative websites would positively impact search rankings.
Although “restart” takes as many uncontrolled variables as possible, there are still some unresolved problems. For example, can link to higher authority sources improve rankings better than linking to sources with lower authority? So how about following links with nofollow?
Although there are still some unresolved issues, this research seems to indicate that including outbound links to high-authority sites can help you with SEO. At least, it will not harm your SEO, so if you are unwilling to link to other sites, consider these results.
Best Practices For Outbound Links
Next, we will introduce some outbound linking techniques to help your website make the most of an SEO strategy.
Look for natural opportunities to connect
Creating a resource page with many outbound links is usually not a good idea because links are not natural to readers.
You can naturally include outbound links on the page to explain technical references and provide other perspectives. Besides, you can link to authorized resources that contain more useful information on specific topics or clarify the points further.
Use descriptive anchor text
Anchor text gets underlined highlighted text that you can click to follow a link to another page.
When creating outbound links, you should use descriptive keywords in the anchor text. You don’t want to use the same keywords every time. Otherwise, the spam detector may get triggered.
However, you want to use the exact text to describe the topics or keywords contained on the target page. That will improve the usability of users and search engines.
You can also include links to statistics and research that support your article.
In April 2016, Google began penalizing sites that had irrelevant or unnatural outbound links. Google believes that unnatural links attempt to improve other websites’ ranking artificially, so it has adopted “manual spam processing” for websites that violate the rules.
The webmaster gets instructed to delete the link in question or add a nofollow tag to each link.
If you want to include external links on the page, you need to make sure that they are useful and relevant to the reader.
Including a link in your copy says to the reader: “Hey! Stop reading your content and click here!”
Therefore, you need to be careful to include too many outbound links to distract readers and keep people away from your site.
When should the outbound link be invalidated?
Now, let’s see when it is appropriate to use nofollow links.
Generally, nofollow links should get used when you do not want to pass the ranking function (also known as link juice) to the link target page or website. When you use nofollow links, you are telling search engines to not think of the pages as “votes” and favor other pages or websites. In other words, the nofollow tag prevents the transfer of credit to other sites linked to your site.
Here are some examples of suitable nofollow links.
Your website may have links to partner websites or sponsored content.
Suppose you want to avoid getting credit through links people buy on your website, use nofollow links. That will help you avoid being suspicious of Google and prevent you from suffering unnecessary penalties.
If you allow people to post comments on your website, you can expect their links to drop. That means they will include a link to their website to receive link juice.
However, you may not want to endorse their website. Using the nofollow attribute prevents search engines from following the link and passing the value to the reviewer’s website.
Similarly, if you allow people to provide content to your website, they can include a link to their website to receive a link from your website.