There’s a very common misconception among bloggers and webmasters. Many of them believe that providing an outbound link to any third-party website will leak link juice, which will negatively affect their SEO.

Link juice or link equity is the SEO value (or PageRank) passed from one webpage to another

The end result? They end up obsessively linking their internal pages to keep the link juice within their website. No outbound links. At least not with DoFollow tag.

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Are you in the same boat? Do you carry the same idea?

(Note: This is #4 in the 9-Parts Series of On Page SEO Techniques. Read the Previous One- Revamp, Repurpose Blog Content)

Do Outbound Links Hurt SEO?

No. NO.

Do outbound links help SEO?

Yes. YES!

While doFollow outbound links may pass your link authority to some other website (whose traffic you don’t even care about), it has its own direct and indirect benefits.

Let’s take an example first.

Say you’re a school student. An average one. Now you have started hanging out with the bad guys who score poor and are always getting in trouble.

In the following days, teachers will start to identify you as the bad guy as well because you’re always with that bad bunch.

Now imagine, you’re an average school student who associates with good, class-topping peers. In the few days, teachers will come to recognize you as a good buy because you’re always hanging out with the good bunch.

Sorry for this poor example. But outbound link is much similar to this concept.

Benefits of Outbound Links


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When you outbound to different websites, it’s much more than just about passing SEO strength.

With this outbound link, the search engines (teachers in our example) better understand the content type and quality of your webpage. It happens in two part:

1. If you link to some authority website (good guys), Google will think your content has taken good reference and resources. Hence, it must be more reliable. Let’s rank it higher on SERPs.

If you link to some third-quality website (bad guys), Google will think your content is associated with poor quality resources. Hence, it must be just as bad. Let’s demote it.

2. Say your article is about Avatar (movie). If you have provided an outbound link to a high-ranking article on this movie, it will signal Google that this content is about the Avatar movie and not an icon of a video game.

On the other hand, if your article misses any outbound link or has a link to a totally irrelevant webpage (say, fish curry recipe), it will confuse Google and force it to look at other signals to understand the content on the webpage. And needless to say, causing inconvenience to the search engine can hit your ranking negatively.

In short, high-quality, relevant outbound links help the search engine understand the content on your webpage and its quality. And the benefits are well-proven even in several researches.

A marketing firm Reboot conducted a study on this topic back in 2016. Spanning over 5 months, the study found a positive correlation between outbound links and the website’s ranking on SERP.

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(Moz has a nice article on why you should link out to other websites. Do give it a read.)

Still thinking ‘are outbound links good for SEO’?

Perhaps this ranking signal may not have as big of an impact as quality content and backlinks, but it does have a positive SEO effect nonetheless.

And at a time when competition is so high in every niche, even a small edge over your competitor can make a big difference.

Besides, let’s not forget the indirect benefits of outbound links. When you link to another website, you open the doors for networking opportunity. Plus, the publisher or owner of that linked webpage may decide to link you back or promote your content on their social channels. More traffic. Woot!

Now the next most obvious question is…

How Many Outbound Links Per Page?

Or, how many outbound links are too many?

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There isn’t any one particular answer to this question. You are advised to provide as many links (internal and outbound) in an article as you require to make that content most resourceful to the readers. It could be one or hundred.

Aside from your requirement, a lot also depends on the length of your content.

If it’s a 200 words article, you simply cannot include 10 outbound links. It would look fishy and spam.

But to be clearer, as I have discussed in When to DoFollow and NoFollow post…

Here are 3 things to remember:

  1. Have more number of internal links than outbound links. Keep the ratio 2:1. For every 2 internal links, have 1 outbound link.
  2. Have no more than 2 links (internal and external) every 150 words. This means, if your article is 900 words, a total of 6 internal and external links are safe and sufficient. And following the above ratio, here you would have 4 links back to your internal pages and 2 links to third-party URL.
  3. If you have to link back to the poor quality website, use NoFollow tag.

[Note: Your entire webpage possibly have more links to internal and outbound webpages (in sidebar, menu, more). So be also be attentive to this. Although the rule is outdated now, a webpage with less than a total of 100 links is a safe choice.]

Use this tool to check links count on your webpage.

So don’t shy away from outbound links out of some mythical beliefs. It’s an easy yet ignored on-page SEO technique that can fuel your ranking.

*****

This is a #4 in the 9 part series that talks about the ignored but highly rewarding on-page SEO techniques. Read PART 5.

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Asif Ali

Asif is a certified content marketer and professional full-stack writer with 3 years experience in his pockets. Stratightedge, blogger and a full-time cloud-lover, find him on Facebook and Twitter.


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