Google’s John Mueller offered his feedback on the SEO practice of linking out to authoritative websites.

4 min read

Everyone who knows search engine optimization (SEO) understands that links pointing to your site are a significant signal to Google. But did you know that links that lead away from a page can also be important?


Outbound links, in fact, are considered critical for both SEO and user experience.


For decades this practice has been considered a game-changing tactic for rankings and SEO.

John Mueller finally offered his feedback on outbound links and how to use them in your SEO plan.


But before that let’s see what outbound links really are?


An outbound link, also known as an external link, is a link that leads from your website to another website. Someone else’s inbound link is your outbound link. An internal link is one that takes readers to another page on the same website.


Outbound links are one method by which people and search engines find valuable content. They are significant because they can increase organic traffic, foster trust, and enhance connections with clients.


Bobby Holland, founder of SEO company Bipper Media, explains, 


“Outbound links bring balance and authenticity to the overall SEO health of a page. If you think about it, the highest-quality articles submitted for professional reviews always reference their sources. Outbound links help achieve authority in the same way when you reference the sources used in the creation of your content.”


Sure adding valuable links to content provides authority to your website, but what impact does it have on ranking?


 Let’s find out!


Google’s John Mueller commented on the SEO practice of linking to authoritative websites. John Mueller explained the history of this SEO tactic and provided Google’s perspective on it, stating that it doesn’t really change anything.


There is an SEO rule that states that linking to an authoritative website will help a site rank better.


This tactic is unsubstantiated by any fact, as a Googler has said or published indicating that linking to an authoritative site is a ranking factor or helps SEO.


It is, in fact, a practice that evolved from a 1998 algorithm research paper and the seminal SEO practices document created by one of the fathers of modern SEO, Brett Tabke.


According to HITs algorithm, Hyperlink-Induced Topic Search (HITS; also known as hubs and authorities) is a link analysis algorithm that rates Web pages, developed by Jon Kleinberg. The idea behind Hubs and Authorities stemmed from a particular insight into the creation of web pages when the Internet was originally forming; that is, certain web pages, known as hubs, served as large directories that were not actually authoritative in the information that they held but were used as compilations of a broad catalog of information that led users direct to other authoritative pages. In other words, a good hub represents a page that points to many other pages, while a good authority represents a page that is linked by many different hubs.


But now is a different time, it has been years since people are using this and not getting results in return because obviously, things have changed now, SEO is more about making your content better, user-friendly, and easy to find.


Here’s the answer is given by google


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


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

I have a long history in the search community than John Mueller, so my account of how this practice started is based on actually being their “way in the beginning.”


He added:


“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… as 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.”


Good content is worth linking 

He supported linking by saying


 “Obviously, if you have good content within your website and part of that references existing other content then kind of that whole structure that makes a little bit more sense and means that your website overall is a good thing.


But just having a link to some authoritative page, that doesn’t change anything from our point of view.”

Our 2 Cents 

As you can see, there are a lot of questions to think about when it comes to using outbound links correctly. Some are situational, such as when evaluating a source, while others are fairly simple, such as when using the no follow link attribute with sponsored content. We’ve answered the most frequently asked questions about outbound linking best practices here. Can you think of any ways to improve the way you use them in your content to add more value?


Outbound links are definitely a progressive practice to incorporate in your SEO plan but like always it should complement the content and should not spam the reader. Spammy links will take you nowhere- Mark my words.


Outbound links with rich and valuable content will aid your SEO efforts and will help to gain authority in the market. On the other hand, it may not be a prominent ranking factor but it sure is the catalyst. You should just know the right ways to use it.