Outbound Linking Guidelines to Follow

Written by Nick Stamoulis

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When it comes to SEO, website owners are so concerned about generating inbound links that they sometimes forget that on the opposite side of the spectrum, outbound links matter, too. Yes, it’s important to generate inbound links because they instill search engine trust in a website, but outbound links are also crawled by the search engines and help to tell a website’s story. As much care needs to be put into outbound linking as inbound linking which is why we’ve created this list of outbound linking guidelines for webmasters to follow:

1. Do link out to other websites

The goal of every website should be to provide visitors with a good experience, something that gets them to come back and visit again and keeps the brand/company represented by the website viewed in a positive light. Part of providing a good experience is to link out to other websites, because after all (all SEO aside), the original purpose of links is to bring people from one page to another. For example, if you’re quoting something that was said elsewhere on the web or citing a reference, it makes sense to point out where this information is coming from by linking to it. It also establishes credibility; your visitors know that you’ve done your research and aren’t pulling information out of thin air!

2. But, consider who you’re linking to

Just as you only want inbound links from high-quality, authoritative websites, you also only want to be linking out to these websites. Links are sort of like your clique online, it’s who you hang out with. And you only want to be associated with other good websites. If you’re linking to a resource, take the time to find the original source of the material. Maybe a not-so-well-known blog you came across is talking about a study. Don’t link to them. Instead, link to where they found that information: whoever actually conducted the study.

3. Manually review user-generated links

For most websites, it doesn’t even make sense for there to be user-generated links in the first place. For other websites that do allow these links (via things like blog comment links, guest blog posts, forum comments, etc.), it’s advisable for there to be a manual review process in place so that they aren’t automatically going onto the website (and potentially causing harm).

4. No-follow paid links

If another website is paying you to link to their site, you need to be transparent about this to visitors (with a sponsored designation) and search engines (by nofollowing the link).

If you’ve never thought about it before, now you know: yes, there are outbound linking guidelines just as there are inbound linking guidelines. Both kinds of links inform the search engines which is why you need to be smart about who you link out to and how you link to them.


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