As long as there have been search engines and search engine optimization, links have had an all-important role to play in optimizing SEO and thereby improving search engine rankings. These include links pointing to different pages of your website (internal links), links from other websites that point to your website (inbound links), and links from within your website that point to other websites (outbound links). And in this article, we dissect the importance of outbound links as a Google ranking factor, so let’s dive straight into the scheme of things.
Why Outbound Links is an important ranking factor?
When you link to a different website, or when different websites link back to you, Google sees this as a form of an unofficial endorsement. It’s because in doing so, one website subtly acknowledges the other on its quality, content, authority, and relevance, indirectly signalling its trustworthiness the audience as well as search engines. And in turn, help yourself as well as the website you link to earn some favours from search engines.
In July 2019’s Ask Google Webmasters, John Mueller addressed the same issue and said “Linking to other websites is a great way to provide value to your users. Oftentimes, links help users to find out more, to check out your sources, and to better understand how your content is relevant to the questions that they have.” However, he also added that it’s the intent behind the outbound links that matters more than the links themselves, and that Google is pretty good at differentiating between genuine intent and value and using outbound links dubiously.
Outbound Links: Quality over Quantity?
However, just having outbound links alone isn’t enough. It matters a great deal who you are linking to. Google and other search engines are surely going to see value in outbound links if they are an extension or have direct topical value as per users’ intent, and solve their queries. So, by adhering to the best practices within the outbound links universe, you, as well as the worthy recipient of the link(s), can see a positive effect in terms of visibility, traffic, and rankings. Needless to say, outbound links to authoritative websites need to be backed by equally appealing and high-quality content (on your website). And lastly, you need to use outbound links judiciously and not go overboard with it in pursuit of higher rankings.
Some points to consider before adding Outbound Links to Your Website
- You need to be aware and sure about who all are considered authoritative and valuable in your niche or industry.
- You have spent enough time in understanding the topic you’re going to writing about to use as a base for those links.
- You understand the fact that readers value different perspectives and are try to present an honest, balanced picture about the topic they are searching for and reading about.
- You have cross-checked multiple times about the accuracy of the piece you’re writing and the piece you are linking to.
Any reasons other than the above could potentially backfire and may prompt Google and other search engines to look at your page in a negative way, thereby impacting your website’s traffic and ranking. To sum up, all hat and no cattle when it comes to using outbound links will make the whole case null and void.