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Do Outbound Links Matter for SEO (and more)

Posted By Darren Rowse 21st of March 2007 Search Engine Optimization 51

Reader QuestionsCraig Harper asks – Thanks to the tips provided by yourself, Yaro, and Aaron Wall I’ve just managed to finally crack into the top ten on Google for my keywords ‘motivational speaker’. I read over on Yaro’s site here about the importance of outbound links being targeted at your niche. In terms of SEO I know there is a lot of emphasis placed on the importance of inbound links but I would like your thoughts on the importance of outbound links and the websites that you outwardly linked to.

Interesting question Craig. Let me answer this question about outbound links but taking us in three directions

1. SEO – You’re right, one of the common pieces of advice that SEO types give is that relevant outbound links to quality sites can actually help your own performance in the search engines.

I’m no SEO expert but all I can really say on this is that some SEOs that I know and respect argue good cases for this and that when I’ve launched blogs it is something that I’ve always done. I don’t know how much of an impact that it has had on those sites – but they do tend to do well in search engines.

My suspicion is that SE’s like Google and Yahoo! have hundreds of factors that they rank a site by and that outbound links is probably one of them – although not one of the ones that they give most weight to (ie it’s not as important as your title tags or the inbound links pointing at your blog).

The only guidelines that I’d recommend in outbound links from a purely SEO perspective (and there are others to consider below) are:

a. not too many links (apparently too many outbound links can be frowned upon by SE’s)

b. keep them relevant (link to other sites/pages that are on a similar topic to you)

c. use appropriate keywords as anchor text (the words you use as the link can help both you and the site you’re linking to with SEs)

d. high ranking sites (some SEOs argue that if you link to highly ranking sites for the keywords that you’re after that it will have more impact).

Note: these tips are purely speaking from an SEO perspective. My own approach with SEO is to know the principles but not let them dominate my blogging. As a result, the only two principles from these four that I do regularly are b and c because I can do them without impacting the ultimate goals for my blog.

So for me – the SEO benefits of outbound links are something I believe in but they are also something I don’t get to worked up about.

2. Reader Satisfaction – the impact that links have upon readers is more important to me than SEO.

Here at ProBlogger I link to a lot of other sites. In fact SEO experts tell me I link out too much (from a purely SEO perspective).

The main reason that I link out so much is purely that I want to give my readership as much quality information on my topic as I can. If I see something that someone’s written on my topic that says something useful then the chances are that I’ll link to it (either as a simple link in one of my speedlinking posts or as a longer post with some of my own thoughts attached).

Some argue that linking out to other sites isn’t worth doing because you drive people away from your blog – my theory is that if I send them to useful content often enough that they’ll keep coming back for more.

Keep in mind also that too many links can actually decrease reader satisfaction – if they are not relevant or useful links.

3. Other Reasons to Link – there are other reasons that it can be useful to link out from your blog including these two:

  • building relationships with other bloggers/webmasters – linking out and sending traffic to other sites is one way to get on the radar of their owners
  • perceived expertise – showing your readers that you have your finger on the pulse of a niche by showing what other sites are doing can increase their perception of you as someone who knows what they’re talking about.

I’m sure readers will come up with a lot more reasons to link out – so over to the ProBlogger Community for their response…

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Nice informative post, i was looking for some proper information about the quantity and quality of out bound links, at last i found some thing that worth reading.

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