The value of an outbound link in the world of Google
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Most of us agree on the value of a inbound link to a sites success in Google. Even MSN and Yahoo use backlinks as a major part of the factoring that goes into ranking a site but have you ever thought of outbound links and their value? Yes I just said outbound. Do links going out from your site have any value other than that which is passed to the recipient of the outbound link? I believe they do. I believe that not only does Google factor inbound but also the outbound links from a site. I think you will agree after you have read this article.
We know that Google gives more value to a site that is linked to by other related authority sites. This is a proven fact. If you don’t believe me you had better start from scratch and learn seo from step #1. Just in case you are at that point I sugges you read SeoMoz, SeoBook, SeoChat Forums, and of course our seo blog.
But I have an idea that involves what you link to not what links to you. Yes thats right outbound activity.
We know that when we link to a bad neighborhood site that this can effect our authority, resulting in a penalty or worse case scenario a ban. But not mant people think of the effect a positive link can have on their site. A outbound link to another related authority site, does it have value? Heres my theory. Since alot of webmasters see linking out as a bad thing which will link PR Google could use this as a factor. Does this mean linking out to 500 related authority sites will raise my rankings to the 1st page? I don’t think so and I am not even saying it will raise your rankings at all. What I am saying is that I think it will give you more authority and value.
Why would Google use this as a factor?
Well why wouldn’t they? Again as I said before a good deal of webmasters won’t link to anything unless they believe they have some direct benefit from it. So those who do link out will likely be only linking to sites that they as webmasters see as useful and authoratitive and want to share those resources with their visitors. If a site only links to related authority sites this could tell Google you know what sites hold the authority in that niche and don’t mind letting your visitors know. That can be hard for some of us.
There also some cons to this idea. One of them is paid links with natural html tags. This means a paid link which is not using nofollow tag or redirect. One that Google will probably value unless their algo decides it is paid. In the above scenario this would still be considered a outgoing link of value as long as it is directed at a related resource. So if Google is not finding all the paid links and dis-crediting them then they could be valued as natural links and this could effect your site positively when your site doesn’t deserve it. I believe Google is working on this.
Do I have prove that such a factor exists. Yes and no. I have tested it on a couple sites of my own and so far all tests are positive. One test was made on a site I have not added a new outbound link on in month. I added a few links to the authority sites in that specific industry. I saw a small increase in a ranking which had not changed in over a year(I have slacked on that site). Again keep in mind I am not saying this will raise your ranking. For this site it did appear to. I am also planning a test for this seo blog using the same scenario.
Now you guys will all go out and link to everybody. I don’t recommend this. What I do recommend is find out what the authority sites are in your industry. Link to them and see if it doesn’t help you. I do this with SeoMoz, SeoBook and Seochat. I have been doing this before I even thought it might have value. Why do I do it? Because they are the authority sites. The owners know seo, they provide correct info and do the research themselves. There are seo, and I won’t name names, who seem to think they can get by on the coat-tail of someone else. They have this idea that they can just ‘think’ and the rest will work itself. That is why I link to the above sites. I respect Aaron Wall, Rand and SeoChat members: EGOL(awesome guy. I respect him and his opinions greatly), Fathom and others very much. They were actually were I learned most of what I know today. I say know because it isn’t just an opinion it is research. Yes all of us at times have comments and opinions for which we have done no research but overall these guys can be taken at face value. If you want to learn seo follow these guys around. I can’t think of a better way….
And I am going off-topic here a little. I just wanted to pass that by you and see what everyone else thoughy. I wrote an article similiar to this and submitted it to Youmoz(seomoz members blog) but alas there was formatting issues and it didn’t get disvalued. I was hoping to get a bigger response as Semoz has a few more members than I do… just a few
If you learned nothing else just remember this. Linking to a related authority site is not a bad thing and will not hurt you. You don’t have to worry about PR leakage or anything. Share and share alike. Don’t believe for a minute that if you horde your value others are just going to link to you.
There is one last thing about linking out that can be beneficial. It doesn’t have anything directly to do with Google but maybe in the long run it does. If you are a small site and you link to the authorities they may check their logs and notice the traffic from it. If they can see your not afraid to share a little link love even though you are getting nothing in return they may link to you or atleast have a higher opinion of you. It is a simple method which may gain you some good backlinks. For products/service sites you may feel like this would be a conflict of interests and in some cases it might. But it is a suggestion anyways and if you think you can spare a space on your site try it out.
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