Outbound Links: What Are They & Their Importance In SEO

February 12, 2024 | Link Building

Suppose you frequently search for information using the internet. In that case, you must have found that the web page offering you the most valuable information offers other relevant information as well through links.

The web page content may offer links that take you to other related content offered by the same or another website.

The latter is known as outbound linking, and this is what we are going to discuss today.

This article shall discuss outbound links, how to find them on your website, why they are essential, their role in SEO, and the best practices for a solid outbound link strategy.

But before that,

What Are Outbound Links?

Outbound links are the links on your web page content that guide readers to related and relevant content offered by different websites.

Outbound links

Outgoing links provide opportunities for your readers to gather more relevant information from various authoritative sources.

How To Find Outbound Links On Your Website?

You can easily find the existing outbound links on your website using a site checker tool like RankWatch.

RankWatch website analyzer tool

The tool shows the total number of outgoing links (both dofollow and nofollow external links) that are pointing to a specific domain.

Total number of outbound links pointing to a specific domain

The website checker also allows you to check whether the external links pass link juices to the pointing domain.

List of doFollow external links

External Links Vs. Internal Links

External links are of two types: Inbound and Outbound.

Inbound links (backlinks) are the external links from other websites to your website, and outbound links are external or outgoing links from your website to other websites.

External link vs. internal link

On the other hand, internal links are the hyperlinks you use in your web page content to link to other relevant web pages of your website.

Why Is Outbound Linking Essential?

You can gain the following benefits by using SEO outbound linking in your web page content,

To Add Depth And Earn Topical Authority

If your web page content contains outgoing links to authoritative websites providing more valuable and relevant information on the topic, it helps you earn topical authority.

High-quality outbound linking also shows users how in-depth and well-researched your content is.

Topical authority

Moreover, outbound links help users and search engines to understand the purpose of your content quickly.

To Add Value

Including outgoing links in your content allows readers to gather more in-depth information on the topic from other authentic sources without further research.

Valuable content

It saves their time and adds more value to their knowledge.

To Build Trust

If you cite an example, case studies, statistics, or other information related to your content topic, try to provide an outbound link to the actual source of the information.

To build trust with your readers

That not only helps the reference site but also demonstrates your website’s trustworthiness to the readers. 

In today’s world, where the internet is flooded with fake information, citing sources of information boosts the credibility of your content. 

However, you must ensure that your outgoing links redirect your readers to authoritative sources.

To Showcase Expertise

Google follows their E-E-A-T model to evaluate the quality of your web page content.

Google’s EEAT model

Using outbound links for citing sources can help you showcase your expertise.

Unless you are an expert on the topic you are writing about, you cannot research and cite the correct and authoritative sources.

Google has mentioned citing sources as one of the ways of showing your expertise in one of their Search Central blogs.

Expertise questions in Google’s Search Central blog

Hence, ignoring cite sourcing using outbound links will not be a smart move. 

Do Outbound Links Help SEO?

Yes, there are significant importance of outbound links in SEO.

SEO is all about achieving and maintaining a higher ranking in search results.

And Google search engine’s prime goal is to provide the most relevant and valuable search results for the searchers.

Outbound links’ SEO benefits

Outbound links help you achieve a higher SEO ranking in the following two indirect ways,

  1. Outbound links help you add more value to your content and thus provide a better user experience. Google prioritizes user experience, so providing a better user experience leads to better SEO rankings.
  2. Outgoing links showcase the users and search engines the relevance, niche, and depth of your topic. That, in turn, helps search bots index and rank your content.

What Are The Best Practices For Outbound Linking In SEO?

The following are the best practices for building a solid outbound linking strategy,

Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

Make it natural and purposeful whenever you include an outbound link in your content. 

Use your outgoing links to offer readers more valuable information or cite authoritative sources of information.

You should not include a bunch of outbound links just for the sake of achieving a higher ranking.

Moreover, you must ensure that your outgoing links only point to trustworthy sources. Otherwise, it can do more harm than good.

Use Correct Attributes

Using the right attributes for outbound linking is essential to avoid a Google penalty.

However, that does not mean you must assign the rel= “nofollow” attribute to all editorially placed outbound links.

Link attributes

However, if the outbound link is placed within the content for some earning purposes like sponsorship or advertising, you must use the rel= “sponsored” attribute in place of the rel= “nofollow”.

If user-generated content (comments, forum posts, etc.) is the source of an outbound link, you need to use rel= “ugc” instead of rel= “nofollow”.

Identify Outbound Links With NoFollow Attribute

You must identify the technical issues in your outbound linking that are stopping your content from ranking higher.

You need to check whether your website has any no-followed outbound links.

The nofollow attribute indicates crawlers do not follow those links or pass link juice.

The RankWatch website analyzer provides that data.

External links with noFollow attributes in RankWatch website analyzer tool

You can quickly identify if you mistakenly placed any of the nofollow attributes. It would help if you rectified the same to avoid negative impacts on your crawling process.

Debunking Common Myths About Outbound Links

We will debunk the two most common myths regarding outbound links in this section,

Myth 1: Outbound Links Harm Your Website’s Rankings

It is an age-old SEO myth that outbound linking dilutes your PageRank and harms your website’s rankings.

Drop in Google rankings

On the contrary, PageRank is based on the very concept of linking one page to another.

The practical reason behind this myth is the fear of Google penalty. Many authors avoid linking out to ensure bypassing the Google penalty.

But Google takes manual action against unnatural links and participation in link schemes.

They penalize websites for buying links to manipulate PageRank.

It does not mean that you must avoid outgoing links to provide more value to your readers and cite sources.

Myth 2: Apply “rel=nofollow” Attribute To Avoid Google Penalty

One more myth is unless you place rel= “nofollow” attributes to all your outbound links, your website will face a Google penalty.

Google penalty

However, Google does not penalize you for editorial outbound linking to add value to your content.

In fact, Google does not mind even if you earn using your content in an ethical way through advertising or sponsorship. 

Only you must ensure that you use the rel= “sponsored” attribute instead of the rel= “nofollow”.

If outbound linking is used for the purpose of allowing your readers to comment on your blog post or forum, you must use rel= “ugc” instead of rel= “nofollow”.

Final Thoughts

Outbound linking adds value to your readers and allows you to cite authoritative sources.

Providing more valuable information using high-quality outbound linking helps you earn topical authority, add depth to your content, and build trust among your users. 

Moreover, Google and other search engines consider source citation using outbound links to be one of the signs of your topical expertise.

However, you should only consider authoritative websites for outbound linking, use correct link attributes to ensure a smooth user experience and describe the purpose of your content to search bots.

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