Every successful SEO strategy contains elements of earning and building links. However, it’s not always clear what’s the story behind these links, and why they are so important. With Google becoming more and more sensitive in terms of optimization and ranking, we need to improve our SEO knowledge all the time. For that reason, we want to explain the term outbound links a bit better – what’s the best way to use them and why you should include them in your strategy.
What links are considered outbound links?
To start exploring the ways to use them, let’s first define outbound links. All of the links that lead a reader outside your website are considered outbound links. They are also called external links, as they drive traffic outside one website to another place on the web.
Outbound links are used in various situations, such as including a link to a study you’re referring to, as well as statistics, facts, quotes, or images from other websites. All of these give more credibility to your content and make it more attractive to readers.
Two types of external links
To make sure you’re using the outbound links properly, you need to understand the differences between the two main types. There are dofollow and nofollow links and here are the main differences between them:
- dofollow links – basically any link you add to your website is a dofollow link. These links are followed by crawling search engines, and they give credit to your website.
- nofollow links are made manually, by switching dofollow to nofollow link, using the cold rel=”nofollow”. This code tells engines not to follow these links, and they don’t pass on link value. These are very important when dealing with links added by the readers – for example, in the comment section. This way, your pages won’t direct engines to potentially spammy websites and decrease the trust factor of your website.
Remember: all of the links that can potentially generate revenue should be nofollow links. These include affiliate and paid links, as well as links leading to product pages. Google needs them to be nofollow by default -otherwise, it can drop the credibility and ranking of your website.
Reasons you should use outbound links
Let’s talk about why outbound links should be an essential step in your SEO strategy, and why you should use them. External links are important because:
- they add value to your website – outbound links are an important factor in enhancing your content, and emphasize the most important parts of the text. By linking to other websites, you add value to your text and make it easier for users to find out more about the problem or a topic they are interested in. They can understand your content better and answer important questions – which will make them come back for more.
- external links help Google find your website – as outbound links add value to your content and strengthen topical signals, it’s easier for Google to find and understand your website. This way, Google will point readers to your website much faster, providing them with answers and solutions they are looking for.
- these links help to build a trusting relationship with your readers – by using related outbound links, you add depth to your content and provide evidence of expertise, you help your readers understand and trust you better. This way you build trust with your audience. Also, you make them come back again to your website, anytime they have a similar problem.
How to use outbound links properly?
Now let’s talk about proper utilization of outbound links, with the most benefits to your website. Here are the main techniques in adding external links without harming your SEO.
Google has become very sensitive to generated, unnatural use of backlinks. That’s why forcing them into your content is not something you should do to help your rankings. That’s why you should add outbound links in a natural way, staying relevant to the content’s topic. This shows to your readers that you’ve really explored the topic, and put effort into creating the text.
Avoid backlink networks
Exchanging links can be great, but overdoing it can potentially harm your ranking instead of increasing it. That’s why you should try to avoid backlinking networks whenever you can. Google can recognize if there are too many forced and fake authorities, and give your site penalties for that. Even though mutual linking is a common practice, it should be avoided as Google is becoming ‘smarter’ than ever.
Use the right tools
Fortunately, there are tools that can help you add links properly. One of them is Google’s related link tool, which helps you find content that’s relevant to your website. Just type “related: ‘thenameofyourwebsite’ in the Google search bar, and it will give you the results that are related to your website topics and style. However, if you notice the results are not what you’re looking for – there’s probably something wrong with the way you’re connecting to your niche. Try re-visiting your SEO strategy and usage of keywords, to make sure you’re pointing in the right direction.
Don’t overdo it
Like any other good practice of SEO, it’s important that you don’t use it too much. If you have too many outbound links in one text, you can only do harm to your website – the readers can get confused and frustrated (and leave the page) and your content will be characterized as spammy. Be sure to make the right selection of the links, and use only the ones that are truly helpful to the readers and related to the content.