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External Links

What are External Links?

External links (also known as outbound links) are links from your site to other websites. They are just as important to a high organic search ranking as inbound links. Most website owners are completely focused on backlinks that outbound linking remains largely ignored and generally misunderstood.

Without external links to authoritative sources that are relevant and useful to your website’s topics, your content will not be well regarded by the search engines. Google in particular wants to see that you are delivering a great user experience by citing relevant and helpful references in your content. Furthermore, a study of the leading news sites discovered something interesting about news sites who do not link out. Those sites were consistently outperformed on many performance metrics by those competitors who took the time to link out.

General Misconceptions of External Links

Some webmasters seem to be under the impression that they could lose traffic and customer sales if they link their site to other sites. Others worry about “leaking PageRank” — what (supposedly) happens when you link out to other sites. This unfounded fear seems to be that when you link out to other pages, you’re reducing the value of each link to your site.

It is important to note that failing to link out to relevant sites could actually harm your search engine rankings. Google is focused on ranking sites that consistently deliver excellent user experience. Your organic link building strategy will only be effective when balanced with appropriate external linking. This linking should be to authoritative and relevant expert sites that actually helps your site’s visitors.

Best Plan of Action

The ideal thing to do is to have a balanced mix of inbound and outbound links. Your site visitors will naturally expect to see a few links leading to other relevant and authoritative sources. They want to continue to learn about the subject-matter or help them solve their problems. These external links also count towards your organic search engine ranking. This is because it’s only natural that an authority site would be connected with other related sites in its industry or “subject community”. Being a competent reference source is critically important for SEO.

When creating your outbound links, there are certain guidelines to keep in mind because even though the main target for your links should be your site visitors, search engines will pay attention to your links, and your search ranking could be affected by what they find:

Outbound Links Guidelines

Keep your links relevant.

Your external links have to be useful and relevant to your website’s categories and topics. Having a bunch of completely irrelevant links on your site will only damage your trust and credibility. For example, if your website is geared towards employment, your readers will expect to see links to relevant and highly authoritative career-related sites and resources. In this situation, links to a fashion blog will only look unnatural and spammy. This may even lead to an outbound link penalty if Google doesn’t understand the relationship, and suspects that you might have been selling links.

This does not mean that you should not link to web pages that are not in your niche or industry. However, if you do, there should be a clear and logical reason why you are sending your visitors in that direction. For example, if you have a career-related blog, you can highlight the importance of a good credit score to employment and refer readers to an industry-leading finance blog that advices readers how to improve their credit score.

Don’t link to competitors.

In order to pass on subject relevance, you don’t need to link to direct competitors; rather, you can choose established sites such as Wikipedia pages, high ranking, leading experts and government authorities as long as they are relevant to your subject-matter. Often, subject experts are educational resources and other relevant and related sources that effectively complement your site.

You must have heard the phrase: ‘‘don’t link to bad neighbourhoods.’’ Avoid linking to sites related to link farms, gambling, casino, porn, malware, etc. Keep in mind that although you may not be penalized for sites that link to you, the outbound links on your site are totally under your control and you will be penalized for links to poor quality sites.

Link out to other experts.

When linking out to experts in your niche, be sure to pick non-competitive sites that you consider to be relevant to your own site and are experts in the subject-matter you are discussing. When you link out to top resources, this increases your credibility and demonstrates your expertise. Your site will also be viewed by your visitors as a valuable and excellent source of top-notch information. They will return again and again because they’ll know that they can trust the information they get from your site.

No matter how knowledgeable you are about a particular subject-matter, you cannot thoroughly exhaust a particular topic. Your readers expect to see links to sites that are relevant to the subject-matter you’re currently discussing. This will allow them to validate your points and get additional information. If your visitors are also able to derive real value from the outbound links on your site, this will increase the credibility and association of your own site. Furthermore, this will increase your standing in the search engines. It wll also make you appear more credible and trustworthy to your users, and they will keep returning to your site.

Monitor links and update broken ones.

A broken link is sometimes worse than not having a link at all. When you link to a page, it is always important to check back on the links periodically because things could change —companies could go out of business, web sites get updated or even leave the web altogether. If a search engine crawler follows the backlinks on your page and finds a broken link and that broken link is there for a long time, it would appear that you’re not maintaining your site properly. This could cost you a top search ranking, especially if you’re in a competitive niche.

Don’t ignore outbound links.

Outbound links aren’t the beginning and end of your search engine linking strategy. However, you cannot afford to avoid them as doing so can affect your organic search ranking. Use outbound links where they are relevant and useful to your site visitors. When you do use them, take the time to ensure that your links are accurate and connect to the correct page.

To find outbound links on your site—just search for <linkfromdomain:yourdomain.com> (<linkfromdomain:moondove.com>) on Bing. You should make a habit of checking your outbound links once every few months or any time you see an unexpected drop in rankings.

What are External Links?

External links (also known as outbound links) are links from your site to other websites, and they are almost as critically important to a high organic search ranking as inbound links. Many website owners are completely focused on backlinks that outbound linking remains largely ignored and generally misunderstood.

The fact of the matter is, without external links to authoritative sources that are relevant and useful to your website’s topics, your content will not be well regarded by the search engines. Google in particular wants to see that you are delivering a great user experience by citing relevant and helpful references in your content. Furthermore, a study of the leading news sites discovered that sites who do not link out have been consistently outperformed on many performance metrics by those competitors who take the time to link out.

General Misconceptions of External Links

Some webmasters seem to be under the impression that they could lose traffic and customer sales if they link their site to other sites. Others worry about “leaking PageRank” — what (supposedly) happens when you link out to other sites. This unfounded fear seems to be that when you link out to other pages, you’re reducing the value of each link to your site because the value of an outbound link is divided by the total number of outbound links. It is important to note that failing to link out to relevant sites could actually harm your search engine rankings, especially with Google focused on ranking sites that consistently deliver excellent user experience. Your link building strategy will only be effective when balanced with appropriate external linking to authoritative and relevant expert sites that actually helps its visitors.

The best plan of action is to have a balanced mix of inbound and outbound links. Your site visitors will naturally expect to see a few links leading to other relevant and authoritative sources to continue learning about the subject-matter or help them solve their problems. These external links count towards your organic search engine ranking because it’s only natural that an authority site would be connected with other related sites in its industry or “subject community” as the search engines call it. Being a competent reference source is critically important for SEO.

When creating your outbound links, there are certain guidelines to keep in mind because even though the main target for your links should be your site visitors, search engines will pay attention to your links, and your search ranking could be affected by what they find:

Outbound Links Guidelines

Keep your links relevant.

Your external links have to be useful and relevant to your website’s categories and topics. Having a bunch of completely irrelevant links on your site will only damage your trust and credibility. For example, if your website is geared towards employment, your readers will expect to see links to relevant and highly authoritative career-related sites and resources. In this situation, links to a fashion blog will only look unnatural and spammy. This may even lead to an outbound link penalty if Google doesn’t understand the relationship, and suspects that you might have been selling links.

This does not mean that you should not link to web pages that are not in your niche or industry. However, if you do, there should be a clear and logical reason why you are sending your visitors in that direction. For example, if you have a career-related blog, you can highlight the importance of a good credit score to employment and refer readers to an industry-leading finance blog that advices readers how to improve their credit score.

In order to pass on subject relevance, you don’t need to link to direct competitors; rather, you can choose established sites such as Wikipedia pages, high ranking, leading experts and government authorities as long as they are relevant to your subject-matter. Often, subject experts are educational resources and other relevant and related sources that effectively complement your site.

You must have heard the phrase: ‘‘don’t link to bad neighbourhoods.’’ Avoid linking to sites related to link farms, gambling, casino, porn, malware, etc. Keep in mind that although you may not be penalized for sites that link to you, the outbound links on your site are totally under your control and you will be penalized for links to poor quality sites.

Link out to other experts.

When linking out to experts in your niche, be sure to pick non-competitive sites that you consider to be relevant to your own site and are experts in the subject-matter you are discussing. When you link out to top resources, this increases your credibility and demonstrates your expertise. Your site will also be viewed by your visitors as a valuable and excellent source of top-notch information, and your visitors will return again and again because they’ll know that they can trust the information they get from your site.

No matter how knowledgeable you are about a particular subject-matter, you cannot thoroughly exhaust a particular topic. Your readers will be expecting to see links to sites that are relevant to the subject-matter you’re currently discussing so they can validate your points and get additional information. If your visitors are also able to derive real value from the outbound links on your site, this will help increase the credibility and association of your own site. Furthermore, this will increase your standing in the search engines and make you appear more credible and trustworthy to your users, because they will keep returning to your site time and time again.

Monitor links and update broken ones.

A broken link is sometimes worse than not having a link at all. When you link to a page, it is always important to check back on the links periodically because things could change —companies could go out of business, web sites get updated or even leave the web altogether. If a search engine crawler follows the backlinks on your page and finds a broken link and that broken link is there for a long time, it would appear that you’re not maintaining your site properly. This could cost you a top search ranking, especially if you’re in a competitive niche.

Outbound links aren’t the beginning and end of your search engine linking strategy, but you cannot afford to avoid them as this can affect your organic search ranking. Use outbound links where they are relevant and useful to your site visitors and not one time more. When you do use them, take the time to ensure that your links are accurate and connect to the correct page. To find outbound links on your site—just search for <linkfromdomain:yourdomain.com> (<linkfromdomain:moondove.com>) on Bing. You should make a habit of checking your outbound links once every few months or any time you see an unexpected drop in rankings.

About Andre Hospidales

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