People still think that outbound links are harmful to SEO. How ridiculous! Without outbound links, the Web will not be like this today.
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 links benefits and best-practices
Outbound linking was neglected as an SEO practice. Because, looking at the PageRank flow formula, it was clear that outbound links leak PageRank.
But no one talked about the credit Google gives you back for linking out to great resources.
Here are the benefits:
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.
Is the link necessary here?
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".
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.
- Even authority sites having shallow content.
- Links that redirect or have nested redirection.
Google has officially removed the limit of 100 links per page.
Let it be. To be on the safer side, let's just limit ourselves to less than 100 links per page.
Count of links in your pages should be proportional to the amount of content. Suppose, say, if you are publishing a 25,000-word post, then even 250 links will be fine.
Remember: If you clutter your pages with links, it will make articles unreadable. Wherever you see there will be blue underlines.
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, 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.
If your readers want to know more about a particular section of your blog post, then they can refer to those outbound articles. With this, you can make sure that you are offering massive value to your readers.
What about dofollow and rel="_blank"?
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 site or a post for some other reasons.
- Image attributions.
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.
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.