OUTGOING LINKS SEO

Matthew Carter
Hello friends, my name is Matthew Carter. I’m a professional link builder for a large SEO agency in New York City.

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“G) Outbound Links: From every page, link to one or two high ranking sites under that particular keyword. Use your keyword in the link text (this is ultra important for the future).”

John Mueller answered by first giving some background information about the practice of linking out.

This idea of a hub score and an authority score caught the attention of the SEO community which subsequently adopted the concepts of authority and hub scores as SEO best practices.

Here is the question:

John Mueller answered:

Google’s John Mueller offered his feedback on the SEO practice of linking out to authoritative websites. John Mueller explained the background of this SEO tactic and offered Google’s point of view about it, saying that it doesn’t really change anything.

The reason I call Brett Tabke a father of modern SEO is because almost all the recommendations in that 2002 article became the standard for how to practice SEO.

It’s a good user experience practice, though.

John Mueller next reaffirmed the usefulness of outbound links as a good practice in the case where the content references some other web page.

But here’s an important fact that has largely gone unconsidered: Google never used the HITS algorithm.

This nearly 20 year old article was called:

Outbound Links for SEO Doesn’t Make Any Sense.

Mueller observed:

In 1998 Jon Kleinberg published a paper detailing his ranking algorithm research paper that used a new form of link analysis called, HITS.

The second idea behind HITS is that high quality sites tended to accumulate links from hub pages. These pages were called, Authorities.

John Mueller is clear that from an algorithmic point of view, outbound links don’t do anything for Google.

Here we are are 19 years later and linking out to authoritative sites is still a thing.

HITS Algorithm.

The idea that it’s good to link to another site is one of the SEO best practices that Brett Tabke recommended in 2002.

In 2002 Brett Tabke (@btabke) published an article whose recommendations became the foundation of modern SEO, making him a father of SEO best practices.

“Does giving a “do follow” link to a trusted authoritative site, is that good for SEO?”

“I think this is something that people used to do, way in the beginning, where they would create a spammy website and on the bottom they’d have a link to Wikipedia and CNN and then hope that search engines look at that and say like, Oh, this must be a legitimate website. But… like I said… people did it this way in the beginning and it was a really traditional spam technique, almost. And I don’t know if this ever actually worked. So from that point of view I would say no, this doesn’t make any sense .”

But the concept of hubs and authority sites nevertheless became integrated into the practice of SEO on the premise that maybe Google already did or would use them in the algorithm in the near future.

Many of the SEO practices from 2002, like linking out to an authoritative site, still continue to be regarded as useful by the SEO community, even though there has never been confirmation from Google that linking to an authoritative site is good for SEO.

To what extent do outbound links affect a page’s ranking in search engine results? In the grand scheme of SEO tactics, outbound links by themselves will not move mountains the way inbound link-building might, for example.

Outbound links are quite possibly one of the most undervalued tactics in content marketing and on-page optimization.

Anchor text refers to the words that the reader can click to reach the linked page. There’s usually no need to treat anchor text differently for an external link. But if you’re linking to a PDF or gated material, you may want to indicate that in the anchor text.

Outbound links improve SEO.

Josh Palmer, content marketing manager at Zylo, says he looks for the source’s reputation and validity: “Trusted reporting from credible news organizations, vetted studies from universities and government agencies, and reports published by respected trade groups or associations always take precedent.” When it comes to freshness, he also says he looks for sources that are less than 12 months old . Anything older than three years he considers “expired” unless it’s a very solid source or an evergreen topic or is infrequently updated data, such as the U.S. census.

However, fame and domain-authority ratings don’t guarantee quality. In fact, great sources can be found among lesser-known experts . “We know tons of sites that provide amazing content but aren’t particularly well-optimized for search,” Derek Gleason says. “That means we can offer links to real expertise, not just sites whose distribution strategies or SEO teams are most talented.” He adds, “If you rely on the first page of Google results to find a relevant source to link to, you’re going to end up linking to the usual suspects, which, in my experience, rarely offer the best information.”

You can get a sense for a site’s authority using Alexa by looking at a site’s Alexa Rank, traffic metrics, and more.

Alaura Weaver, founder of WordWeaver, illustrates another example: “[Including backlinks] offers the opportunity to reach out to the site owners to give them a heads-up that you’re linking to them in your post, which means they may be likely to promote or link to your post when it’s live—even better for your SEO!”

To make matters worse, opening a new tab can introduce a security concern, Scott points out. And we have yet to hear of a study showing that sending users to another browser window makes it more likely they will come back and spend more time on your site.

It may be that the effects of linking to external sites, like building trust, are what ultimately affect SEO for the better.

What Is an Outbound Link?

It’s also easy to imagine how the external links from your content can strengthen the topic signal to Google. All other things being equal, a page linking out to related content could reasonably be expected to perform better than one with no external links.

Many websites follow their own content and style guidelines for when and how to use external links. Sometimes it evolves based on practices content marketers develop from observing how others do it. Solidifying these best practices into your style guide will increase the effectiveness and usefulness of outbound links in your content.

Linking to high-quality external sources may help with search engine optimization in a few ways.

One more way outbound links can deliver value for content creation teams is in the relationship currency it offers.

Should anchor text differ for external links?

In the vein of providing the best user experience you can, you’ll want to evaluate carefully whether to include a link to material that’s gated or behind a paywall . Consider whether it’s truly worth a reader’s time to access the content if they want to learn more about the reference. This may need to be balanced against a policy of always linking to an original source , for example.

Outbound links are an important way websites participate in and contribute to the internet. They can add value for readers, help your site with SEO, and open conversations with other businesses.

For Wild Apricot’s content manager, determining whether a page is a good choice for an outbound link or not comes down to whether it “feels authoritative,” which, to her, means that it also links out to its sources. Tatiana also considers a source’s domain authority .

Links that you may wish to keep followed include the following:

Choosing which source to send your reader to is as important as deciding to send the reader elsewhere in the first place.

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