If you know even a tiny bit about search engine optimization (SEO), you understand the value of inbound links (“backlinks”) in boosting your rankings. Backlinks are when other websites point to your site. Google crawls these links, and if you have a lot of inbound ones, this means that people are citing or talking about you. All of that chatter makes you seem more trustworthy which increases your rankings in Google search results. What many people don’t know, however, is that outbound links may also help you improve your search engine ranking.
What are Outbound Links and How Do They Help?
Outbound links are the complete opposite of backlinks in that you link to other websites from within your own site. You might think that this seems counter-intuitive, but it is another parameter that Google is believed to rank your website. Following the recent major updates to Google’s search algorithm, Google now checks to see whether or not you are an authority in your industry. This means that you need to establish that you real, not a spammy website, and are someone worth listening to.
In order to do that, you need to increase your relevance, and one option to achieve that goal is by linking to relevant sites. You should make outbound links to websites that are complementary to your industry and offer value to your audience. In doing so, you are making it clear to the algorithm that you are related to those same niches and keywords, thus increasing your overall relevance and authority. By linking to other websites, you are also getting in touch and building relations with other users within the same niche. In many ways, your competition can also be a partner of sorts and you can mutually increase your search engine results.
How to Effectively Use Outbound Links
Now, just because linking to other related blogs may help you, that doesn’t mean that you need to pack in as many links as possible to your posts. Interestingly, this will have the opposite result because your readers and users will probably get confused (or worse, annoyed). The goal is relevancy. Don’t potentially send visitors off of your website unless it will bring value to them. It is better to concentrate on making internal links (or linking between your own posts) and then scatter some outbound links to other websites with relevant subject matter.
You should also avoid getting sucked into “link farms,” which are essentially two-way, reciprocal backlinks. You should also avoid linking to poorly written articles or articles that don’t relate or build upon your topic. Bad links can confuse search engine bots in understanding what you’re associated with, which may decrease your rankings.
When it comes to increasing your online visibility, sometimes it actually helps to be sociable and build a network of bloggers and website owners. This way, you are developing your authority within your subject matter since you are connecting with other authority figures in the same specialty. Used sparingly and properly, outbound links can add considerable clout to your site, which can increase your search rankings significantly.