External Links

It is common knowledge that link building is an essential part of SEO and that the number and quality of internal links directly impact search engine rankings. However, with all the fuss over acquiring back links, outbound or external links are often forgotten about. The fact is that external links on a page can also affect your site’s status, for better and for worse.

There are many ways that outbound links can harm your site. Linking to bad neighbourhoods such as adult sites can do it. Creating link farms, or excessive reciprocal linking will also do the trick. In some cases, even if you link to reputable sites, creating outbound links can disrupt the flow of PageRank within your site and negatively affect your pages’ listings.

The potential problems that external links can cause are well known. What is less well known, however, is that some external links can have a positive effect on site relevancy and search engine rankings. This makes perfect sense when thought of from the search engines’ point of view. Internet traffic flows from site to site through outbound links on websites. These links determine PageRank, help identify authority sites and are the primary method though which new sites are crawled and indexed. Sites with no external links are effectively dead ends in terms of traffic flow.

Another way that the benefit of external links can be seen is to consider them in terms of user experience. Over the next few years, providing good user experience and level of interactivity will become more and more important for ranking well in Google. Linking to reputable sites that provide additional resources is one way to improve the usefulness of your site.

So who should you link to? Linking to authority sites, which are known to be of good quality is a good idea. The most important thing to consider is the relevancy of the link. The subject of your page and the page that you link to should be closely related. Don’t go overboard on the number of external links. One or two quality links will be better than a dozen mediocre ones. Add links when and where you feel they are appropriate and will benefit your visitors and you can’t go far wrong.

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