I’ve been thinking a lot about my linking strategy lately. Trying to get incoming backlinks, making sure I have good inner links…
But one area that I think is too often overlooked is outbound links.
Hello, it’s called the “web”When HTML was initially designed (and yes, I’m old enough to remember those days), the resulting conglomeration of pages was called the World Wide Web. Why? Because the structure of the pages resembled a spider’s web.
There was no central starting point. Each page contained hyperlinks that referenced other pages that were relevant.
There were no search engines and directories were fairly small and specialized. The only way that you could get to a page was if you knew the URL, or followed a link from another page.
In those days, the idea was to provide access to information. The internet was not a commercial place back then.
But then things changed…
The nature of links has changed drastically in the past few decades. Instead of being a helpful way to share relevant content with our readers, we’ve come to view them as a way to increase our SEO. We’ve become stingy with links because we want to keep our readers on our own pages, viewing our AdSense ads and buying through our affiliate links.
We allow links in the comments, but we nofollow them so no link juice escapes. We’ll put the odd blog in our blogroll, if we even have one. But how many of those are owned by us as well?
No, our focus is all on how we can get links back to our own site and build ourselves up in the eyes of Google.
It has to change
All of us need to change our mindsets about linking. We need to get back to the original mindset of the web.
That’s not to say that getting backlinks is bad (provided you’re not spamming to do it—that’s another article altogether). Nor should you ignore the SEO benefits of internal links.
But we need to get back to the idea of sharing links simply because the information is of value to our readers.
As the search engines get smarter, and the value of comment links, forum links, and social media links drops, the value of in-content links (i.e. links from within an article itself) will rise.
Who else thinks this way?
Am I the only one thinking about this? Not at all. Some A-list bloggers have written about this topic.
Brian Clark of Copyblogger wrote Why Linking to Other Blogs is Critical back in 2007. He even suggests linking to your competition—you’ll have to read his article to find out why.
And if you look through the list of trackbacks, you’ll find Linking Out Instead of Link Building to Rank in Google as a recent entry by Tad Chef at SEOptomise. I especially like one thing that he said: “Linking out is a strategy you have to embrace holistically.” Read the article to see what he means.
Dawud Miracle wrote on Lorelle on WordPress Why You Want to Link to Other Blogs where he explores more than just the page rank/traffic benefits.
And to help you find interesting stuff to link to, check out Ben Yoskovitz’s Blog Hack: Link to New Blogs and Get More Readers.
You’ll also find articles here at ProBlogger that talk about how to use outbound links. Kimberly Turner’s Monthly Trends + 10 Tips for a Flawless Linking Strategy touches on the subject, for example.
And don’t forget Darren! He wrote about this back in 2009 in Outbound Links—An Endangered Species? [And Why I Still Link Up].
Explore the trackbacks and links found in those articles and you’ll find lots of people writing about how important linking out is for your blog.
So, what’s a blogger to do?
Excellent question! I’m glad you asked.
We all need to adopt a mindset that includes outbound links in our articles—not necessarily every article, but I think it should be 25% at a minimum. I think you’ll find that as you intentionally look for and link to quality articles, you’ll be able to link out in almost every article you write. This one has six (if you don’t count the blatant plug back to my own site in mu bio!).
I’ve actually come up with a list of six guidelines for outbound links. You can find the list at the end of this post. Maybe you can think of some other guidelines to add — feel free to share!
Above all, remember that Out is the new In when it comes to links.
Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson is a programmer, web designer, trainer, writer and all around nice guy. He has several blogs on the go and loves to tinker with plugins and themes (more than he should). You can see what he’s learning about blogging and online marketing at LoneWolf’s List Marketing Adventure.