The importance of outbound links is somewhat new to SEO, as most site owners are concerned with earning inbound links from other sites.
However, the links that you use on your website can actually impact more than just user experience — they can impact your SEO. To get the most out of external linking, you can follow a few key steps.
Cite your sources
If you’re ever using data on a page and you got it from somewhere else, you absolutely have to link to the data’s original creator. This isn’t to say it’s illegal to use other organizations’ data without citations, but it’s an important step in building trustworthiness and reputation in your industry. It also shows that you appreciate someone’s website enough to give them a link, which helps promote their quality work.
Beyond the simple kindness of it, citing your sources shows readers that the data you’re using is reliable. Today, the average Internet user is suspicious of studies and statistics unless they’re easily verifiable. It’s essential you show them where you found your data so they can come to trust you as a smart and professional source of information.
Link to quality, credible websites
Quality matters when it comes to sources, mostly because it again helps users build trust with your brand. By extension, quality links can improve a user’s experience on your website, and Google’s algorithm is heavily based on user experience.
From an SEO standpoint, there’s the possibility that once you start linking to good websites, Google will see that you’re not included in any bad linking neighborhoods. It’s important to maintain your distance from websites that spam links or engage in link buying schemes since Google penalizes them. Association with those shady tactics can seriously harm your website — maintaining your distance gives you a fighting chance.
If you’re having trouble finding quality websites to use in links, you can start by looking at .gov or .edu sites. You can also install the MozBar and look for websites that have a high domain authority (DA) number. Using these techniques together can ensure you’re linking to professional, high-quality websites.
Limit the number of links
When you’re linking to external sources, it’s important to remember that linking to too many pages can become counter-productive. Adding hundreds of links to your page can make it appear spammy, especially if it’s a newly-registered domain. Google hates spam, and readers don’t like to see that the majority of your text is linked.
Maintaining a good link-to-text ratio can help keep your text more readable while showing Google that you take linking seriously. You’re not just throwing links out there to help boost other people’s rankings — you’re doing it because they run quality websites that you found helpful.
Write descriptive anchor text
Anchor text is the words that are visible on an actual link. Writing descriptive anchor text — as opposed to text that just says “click here,” “read more,” or something else generic — gives readers an idea about what they’re clicking before they click it. It also tells search engines something about the link as they crawl your website.
In both situations, you wind up winning. Your customers are happy because they know what they’re clicking, and Google is happy because it can more easily contextualize your page.
By citing sources, linking to credible websites, limiting the number of links, and writing descriptive anchor text, you can make your external links work for you. But if you don’t know what to do next, you could benefit from the advice of an SEO agency. Fill out the contact form below to get in touch with us, and we’ll contact you about improving your website’s SEO!