Everyone wants a high-ranking website. That’s why we go to the trouble of developing compelling, audience-focused content. It’s the reason we optimize that content, use descriptive metadata, and include eye-catching images.
But we don’t stop there. We create videos and podcasts.
We look for opportunities to guest post.
And yes, we do a lot of that because we believe in our content – our ideas, services, and products – but we also know that if our SEO isn’t up to par, none of our content will be seen. And if nobody sees us, then it doesn’t matter how great our products or ideas are.
SEO is more than just great content, well-researched keywords, and effective metadata. Though all of those things are essential, you also need quality inbound and outbound links.
Outbound links make a difference for SEO?
Yes, outbound links do make a difference. Although most people focus exclusively on cultivating inbound links, outbound links are an essential part of any comprehensive SEO strategy. However, before looking too deeply at how outbound links benefit your site, we should take a moment to define exactly what they are.
As their name implies, outbound links are links that move visitors from your site to a site with a different domain name. So, when you include a link to any other website (whether Wikipedia or YouTube or any other site), you’re creating an outbound link. In a sense, you’re endorsing whatever site you link to.
Think of it this way: If someone were to ask for some restaurant recommendations, you might point them in any number of directions. Maybe there’s a really good Mexican place up the street. By mentioning this option, you’re ‘linking’ to it in the mind of your hungry friend.
And if your friend were to take your advice, visit that restaurants, and find it just as delicious as you said – then he would likely trust that you know what you’re talking about when it comes to good food. And you would gain credibility and authority.
In a sense, this is what search engines are doing. When your site consistently links to, or recommends, trustworthy and reliable resources, those search engines are essentially saying, “Hey, this guy knows what he’s talking about. This really is as good as he said!”
And then, when someone searches for a topic that you have authority on, those same search engines will be more likely to say, “Let me tell you about someone who always seems to know what he’s talking about…” And your site will move up the search engine rankings.
How do outbound links make a difference for SEO?
Credibility & Trustworthiness
As we’ve already seen, outbound links increase the credibility and trustworthiness of your site. By linking to other, highly ranked pages and sites, you’re letting Google, Bing, and Yahoo know that you’ve done your homework.
Think of it like creating a research paper in high school or college. You likely had to include a ‘works cited’ or ‘bibliography’ page at the end to prove you’d done your due diligence. That little page was your way of saying, “I really do know what I’m talking about.” And outbound links do the same thing for your website.
But they don’t just offer credibility. They also let search engines understand your niche better. If you are consistently linking to sites that are similar, the search engines will begin to see you as related and, in time, give you greater rankings when someone searches for your niche.
Cultivate Inbound Links
You know the old saying, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”? Linking to related sites is like scratching their back. When the webmasters of those sites check their incoming traffic, they’ll see your domain. And that will make them wonder about who’s sending traffic their way… which means they’ll check your site out. And if they discover that you’re a kindred spirit, there’s a good chance that they’ll end up linking back to your site.
In other words, outbound links are an easy way to cultivate inbound links. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
People Enjoy Curated Content – and Spend More Time There
People love listicles, resource centers, and other hubs of information. If you can create content that goes beyond promoting itself, to pointing people toward quality information on the wider web, you’ll gain a more faithful following. People will return to your site in order to find the sites and pages you’ve curated. And they’ll spend more time on your pages since it’s a digital Grand Central Station.
How can I create SEOed outbound links?
Hopefully you see the value in outbound links by now. But you may be wondering, “How can I make the most of outbound links for my SEO?” If so, this next section is for you…
Link to Other Sites that Mention You
One of the easiest (and most beneficial) ways to create outbound links is simply to link to any sites that mention your organization, company, or website. This could be a news article, a press release, a review, an interview, or any number of other sites or pages. So, get on Google and search for you name. Then, come up with creative ways to link to the sites that you find.
Ask Clients and Customers to Link to Your Site
If you’re doing a great job and your customers are pleased, asking them to link back to your site through their own is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. It benefits both of you, making it a win-win. And Google (as well as the other search engines) really appreciate reviews. So, if you can get some reviews out there with links back to your site, you’ll really start to see some positive momentum.
Use Your Blog to Link to Others
You don’t have to create 5,000 word exposes to benefit from blogging. Short, 500-1,000 word blogs can have a huge impact on your SEO, especially if you include links to other relevant content. As I mentioned before, everyone loves resource centers. So, even if you just create pages like ‘The Top 5 [Fill in the Blank] Sites on the Internet’, you’ll find that it benefits you.
Your blog is your number one SEO tool. Make sure to use it to its fullest capacity – linking to others as you go.
Be Careful About Whom You Link To
Though we’ve focused on the power of building outbound links, this doesn’t mean that you can just link to anyone and still reap the benefits. Only link to reliable websites with quality information.
And it’s also worth noting, you may occasionally come across companies that promise to build ‘thousands of backlinks’, etc. Be really careful about anything that sounds too good to be true. If it sounds like it, it usually is.
So, focus on earning links to high quality content. Create your own blogs, articles, listicles, and more that are compelling and engaging. Make your content so good that people want to link to it. If you have to pay for the links, they likely won’t do much for you in the long term.
Google is smarter than you think. And eventually, it will figure out that no one actually cares about your site. So, don’t take the risk.
Trade Links… with the Right People
Trading links has been a popular way to build one’s authority for a long time. Unfortunately, like many good things, it’s gotten abused. Trading links is a great tool if you’re doing so with other sites that are in the same niche and the link makes sense. But if it’s just a scheme to try and get as many links as possible, as quickly as you can, then it won’t hold water in the long run.
Basically, you should avoid anything that’s unscrupulous or smacks of manipulation. Those things may work for a season but they’re sure to fail over the course of months and years.
It’s really this simple. Be honest. Don’t try to manipulate the system. Don’t think that you can fill your page with the ‘right’ keywords without offering quality content. Don’t make your content different from what your keywords are. Just be real.
Tricks and games may give you a boost over the next day or two… but none of those things work if you want higher rankings permanently. And if you want sustainable success, you need a stable strategy.
How’s your outbound link strategy? Have you implemented any of these things into your site’s SEO? Let us know how it’s going in the comments!