Sep 21, 2023

Outbound Links: Do They Matter For SEO?

Suman Samal, Asst. Marketing Manager
Suman Samal
Outbound Links: Do They Matter For SEO?
Suman Samal, Asst. Marketing Manager
Suman Samal
Sep 21, 2023

Outbound Links: Do They Matter For SEO?

Explore the importance of outbound links in SEO. Find out if they truly make a difference in search engine optimization and website rankings.
Outbound Links: Do They Matter For SEO?

Table of contents

In the ever-evolving world of search engine optimization (SEO), marketers constantly seek innovative approaches to boost their website's visibility and climb the rankings ladder. 

One strategy that has been a topic of hot debate is the use of outbound links: are they a double-edged sword that can harm your SEO efforts, or do they possess the untapped potential to propel your website forward?

Some SEOs believe that outbound links can positively impact ranking if used correctly. However, there is no concrete evidence or confirmation from Google that outbound links are a direct ranking factor. 

This thought-provoking article delves into the fascinating realm of outbound links and explores their impact on SEO. So, let's begin!

What are outbound links?

Outbound links, also known as external links or outgoing links, are hyperlinks that direct users from one website or blog to another. They are essential connections between different web pages across the vast digital landscape. These links can lead visitors to related content on other websites, providing additional information or resources.

A study by a marketing firm, Reboot, found that there is a positive impact between a page's outgoing links and search rankings. Outbound links contribute to the overall ecosystem of the internet by connecting relevant pages together. They enable users to explore different perspectives on a topic or delve deeper into related subjects beyond what's available solely on your website. The outbound linking creates a network of interconnected knowledge across various domains – benefiting both users and search engines alike.

Outbound linking structure of websites showing how it passes authority from one site to another.

Understanding the difference between inbound links and outbound links

There are different types of links that you can insert into your blog content, such as internal links and external links. Understanding the difference between inbound and outbound links is crucial for optimizing your website's SEO. 

Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are hyperlinks that point from external websites to your own. These incoming links play a significant role in building authority and credibility for your site. They act as votes of confidence from other reputable sources.

On the other hand, outbound links are hyperlinks on your website that direct users to external websites. Unlike inbound links, which bring traffic to your site, outbound links send users away from your page to another source of information or related content.

How does outbound link building affect SEO?

Outbound links play a crucial role in search engine optimization (SEO) and can have both positive and negative impacts on your site's ranking. In July 2019, Google's John Mueller addressed this question in the inaugural Ask Google Webmasters video and said:

Google's John Mueller statement about the usage of outbound links

Here are some benefits of outbound links for SEO: 

  • Outbound links provide valuable information and resources for your readers. By linking to authoritative sources, you show credibility and build trust with your audience. This helps to answer their queries, improve user experience and increase the likelihood of visitors staying on your site for longer periods.
  • Outbound links are an important aspect of optimizing landing pages. By including clear and strong anchor text for these hyperlinks, you can effectively communicate the information you want to convey to your readers. This makes content writing for blogs and landing pages even more valuable. Additionally, outbound links can lead to increased traffic, credibility, and authority for your website.
  • Outbound links act as a vote of confidence for the linked websites. When you link to high-quality sites that are relevant to your content, it signals to search engines like Google that you're providing value by connecting users with reliable sources. This can positively impact your site's reputation and boost its visibility in search results.
  • Outbound links contribute to building relationships with other website owners and influencers within your niche. When you link out to their content and let them know about it through social media or email outreach, they may reciprocate by linking back to your website or even mentioning it in their own articles. This can lead to increased visibility and referral traffic.
  • Outbound links demonstrate transparency and authenticity. By linking out when necessary rather than hoarding all external web traffic for yourself, you show search engines that you prioritize delivering value over self-promotion. This gives a strong signal of trustworthiness which can boost your overall SEO efforts.

Best Google practices for using outbound links:

When it comes to outbound links, there are a few best practices that can help you maximize their impact on SEO. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Choose reputable sources and avoid spammy websites: 

Before linking to any website, ensure it is trustworthy and authoritative. Linking to low-quality or spammy sites can negatively affect your own site's credibility.

Avoid participating in link farms:

Link farms are a black hat SEO technique that involves creating multiple low-quality or irrelevant links to increase a website's search rankings artificially. These link schemes, including reciprocal links and link farms, are considered unnatural by search engines like Google and can result in penalties or decreased rankings. 

It is important to avoid participating in link farms and instead focus on building high-quality, relevant outbound links that provide value to users and contribute to a positive user experience.

Provide context: 

When adding an outbound link, explain why you include it clearly and concisely. This helps both search engines and readers understand the relevance of the link.

Use relevant anchor text: 

Anchor text is the clickable text that appears in a hyperlink. When adding outbound links to your website, it is important to use keyword-rich anchor text that accurately reflects the content of the linked page.

Diversify your outbound links: 

Instead of always linking to the same websites or sources, try incorporating a variety of external links into your content. This showcases your willingness to provide valuable resources from different perspectives.

Regularly review and update your outbound links:

Websites may change URLs or remove pages over time, leading visitors to encounter broken links (404 errors). Monitoring these links will help maintain a positive user experience and prevent any negative impact on SEO.

Note: Outbound links can be placed within user-generated content, such as comments or forum posts. It is important to ensure that these outbound links are placed correctly and logically and are not used for spamming or selling purposes. By marking user-generated content links with the "UGC" value, website owners can recognize and reward trustworthy contributors while maintaining the integrity of their outbound links. 

By following these best practices, you can ensure that your outbound links contribute positively to your site's SEO efforts while also providing value and credibility for your readers!

Debunking common myths about outbound links and SEO:

Outbound links negatively impact your website's ranking: 

One of the most prevalent misconceptions is that including outbound links on your website will harm your SEO efforts. In fact, search engines like Google view outbound links as a sign of credibility and relevance, which can actually boost your rankings.

You should avoid linking to competitors' websites: 

Some people believe that linking to their competitors' websites will harm their own SEO performance. Contrary to this, linking to reputable and relevant sources within your industry, including competitors if appropriate, can enhance the value and authority of your content in the eyes of search engines.

The more outbound backlinks you have, the better: 

While it's true that outbound links can benefit your SEO strategy when used correctly, it's important not to go overboard with them. In this case, quality matters more than quantity - focus on providing valuable resources for readers rather than simply stuffing your content with irrelevant or low-quality outbound links.

Note: The nofollow attribute is commonly used in outbound links to indicate to search engines that the website owner does not endorse or vouch for the linked content. This attribute is often used for sponsored links or user-generated content.

However, it is important to use the nofollow attribute selectively and not apply it sitewide. By using the nofollow attribute appropriately, website owners can maintain control over their outbound link profile and ensure they link to reputable and authoritative sources.

Outbound link anchor text doesn't matter: 

Another myth is that there's no need to optimize anchor text for outbound links since they don't directly affect SEO. However, using descriptive anchor text helps users and search engines understand what type of information they'll find by clicking on those links.

Final words

In conclusion, outbound links play a crucial role in optimizing the content of any webpage for search engines and enhancing the overall user experience. By incorporating relevant and high-quality outbound links, content creators can provide additional value to their readers by directing them to authoritative sources and expanding their knowledge on the topic.

Scalenut Content Optimizer showing content report for outbound links. 

One powerful tool that can assist in optimizing content for search engines and ensuring the inclusion of an appropriate number of outbound links is the Scalenut Content Optimizer. This innovative tool analyzes your content and provides valuable insights and recommendations to improve its search engine rankings. By leveraging its capabilities, content creators can effortlessly identify opportunities to insert outbound links that enhance the credibility and relevance of their content.


How many outbound links should I include in my content?

Their relevance and value should determine the number of outbound links to the content. Avoid excessive linking and focus on providing high-quality and relevant links.

Should outbound links open in a new window?

It is generally recommended to have outbound links open in the same window to ensure a seamless user experience. However, opening a new window can be appropriate for external resources that provide additional information.

How do I choose appropriate websites for outbound links based on their relevance?

Select websites that are reputable, authoritative, and relevant to the topic of your content. Ensure the linked pages are reliable and offer value to your readers.

Can outbound links negatively affect my website's SEO?

Outbound links, when used appropriately, do not harm SEO. However, avoiding linking to low-quality websites is essential, as this can reflect poorly on your content's credibility and spam your SEO performance.

About Scalenut 

Scalenut is an AI-powered SEO and content marketing platform that helps discover and create relevant content for your customers. Be it brainstorming a content strategy, creating comprehensive briefs, generating the content, or optimizing it per the best SEO practices, Scalenut will help you in each step of your content lifecycle management. Click here to create a free account and explore the many features of this tool.

Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager
ABout the AUTHOR
Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager

Suman Samal is a Asst. Marketing Manager at Scalenut. She is a technology enthusiast with a keen interest in content marketing and SEO. She truly believes that with the right set of tools every organization can improve the ROI of their content marketing campaigns. She spends her time managing content operations at Scalenut and ensuring that everything we publish is of the highest quality.

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