What are outbound links?

Outbound links are URLs on your website that link externally to other web properties. Both outbound and inbound links are important for your website’s search engines ranking.

The only ‘ones’ that fully understand the ranking criteria are search engines themselves, and they carefully protect their algorithms. Still, SEO specialists can use external links outside of their website to improve their position in the search results, led by experience and common sense.  An additional technique that quality resource optimisation can be carried out is outgoing links.

Such website performance indicators as Yandex’s Thematic Citation Index (TIC), Google’s PageRank, as well as link building, have always caused a lot of talk. With that, the emphasis is always placed on obtaining backlinks. Indeed, you can’t argue with that. However, outbound links can serve as part of an SEO strategy, too. You can check outbound links of your website using services like Screaming Frog or sitechecker.pro. By adding a relevant link to an external resource, you make your own content more valuable and relevant. SEO specialists often avoid outbound links completely, believing that the higher the PageRank or Thematic Citation Index, the better ranking the website would receive in search results. However, PR and TIC aren’t the determining factors for search algorithms. So why worry too much about outbound links?

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Make informative and relevant content your main task

Search engines like Google and Yandex PS, always put the relevance and quality of the website content ‘at the forefront’. That’s why you should make sure that all your outbound URLs also link to ‘worthy’ resources. A good way to evaluate the quality of an outbound link is to check whether the acceptor websites rank on high positions in the search results. It’s fair to say that such external websites should be authoritative in a specific topic, but they shouldn’t be direct competitors to your business. In other words, don’t link to your competitors’ websites. By placing relevant outbound links on your website, you show visitors that you care about them, by helping them get comprehensive information on a topic.

An example of a useful outbound link

For example, you strive to get a good position in search results for the “ionisers” keyword. Obviously, using “air ionisers” as a text for an outbound link to an external web property is not the best option. Try being a little more creative. For example, you could use “sanitation regulations for air ionisation” and link to a corresponding expert resource. This will help your website scale, provide users with a broader range of information and make search engines ‘see’ your website as useful. To confirm the latter, here’s what Matt Cutts has stated in his blog: “In the same way that Google trusts sites less when they link to spammy sites or bad neighbourhoods, parts of our system encourage links to good sites.”

Outbound links on a website’s main page

As a rule, any outbound links on the main page should be kept to a minimum. The main page of a well-designed website shouldn’t have any content that would require outbound links. If necessary, an outbound link can be placed in the website footer (the bottom part of a webpage) — this won’t affect your business in any way.

Recommendations for outbound links

  • Add a target=”_blank” parameter to your links (Fig.1A) to make external properties open in a new window. Thanks to this, users will be able to quickly return to your webpage after they receive additional information from an external resource.
  • Improve user experience with visual markers: icons and images that would indicate an external link (Fig..1B).
  • Don’t hide high-quality outbound links with noindex and nofollow.

blank

Fig. 1 a – _blank parameter in the webpage code; b – visual marker of a webpage

Outbound links you should avoid

  • Uncontrollable (user-generated) links that can turn your website into a link farm, resulting in your website being sanctioned by search engines.
  • Advertising links — they are perceived negatively by both search engines and users.
  • Links to websites with signs of search engine spam.

Conclusion

Focus on making your content user-friendly and useful to readers, link your outbound URLs only to high-quality third-party properties, but at the same time maintain the balance with their quantity with common sense. Search engines will also appreciate this. If the link can be useful to website visitors and increase the value of your own content — go for it and place the link on your website. Make your website scalable. Don’t link to questionable web properties that are prone to spam content. And of course, all URLs must be working, i.e. link to an existing website or webpage. That’s why you should regularly check outbound links of your website.

By applying the above recommendations into practice, you’ll be able to score a few bonus points for your overall website development strategy which can yield long-term results.

 

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