Outbound links and SEO

Outbound links and SEO

Backlinks from sites with good Google authority can significantly improve your visibility in the organic search results. On the other hand, as a website owner you should make sure that the number of outbound links from your platform isn’t too high as this could have a negative impact on SEO. What else should you know about outbound links?

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Outbound links – essentials you need to know

Effective link building is a complex task as obtaining outbound links from the most popular site doesn’t guarantee an improvement in your Google visibility. It’s crucial to learn how to maximize the potential of e.g. sponsored articles, even if you’re only a publisher. Thanks to it, you’ll see how to prepare sponsored article offers and advise advertisers who outsource the task to you. Below you can find a list of aspects you should keep in mind:

The more links from a single subpage, the lower their value

If you’ve ever used platforms for publishing sponsored articles such as Linkhouse or Whitepress, you’ve certainly come across pages that allow you to publish 5 backlinks or even more. There are also platforms without a specified limit of links that can be included in a single entry. As a result, you may be commissioned to publish content with 20 outbound links. Can such a significant number of links have a positive impact on page visibility? Probably not.

First of all, the search engine algorithm doesn’t perceive too many backlinks to one website on one platform as natural. A few years ago acquiring links in such a way, e.g. from a back-end page with a lot of anchor links to the same page could result in a manual filter. The website would lose its high Google positions and the owner would have to remove outbound links from such sites. During our career, we’ve encountered situations when all anchor links placed on our clients’ websites had to be deleted in order to get rid of the manual filter. Today, such situations usually don’t take place. Nevertheless, publications with a large number of outbound links still aren’t legitimate.

If you receive an offer to publish such an article, explain to the advertiser that it’s not the most lucrative option. A study conducted by Linkouse precisely shows what proper link building should look like. This platform analyzed 30,000 sponsored articles published with its help.

outbound links and seo

More than 60.44% of publications had one outbound link whereas only 1.44% contained 5 links. The results aren’t so obvious because it needs to be kept in mind that numerous sites limit the possibility of publication to only one link per article and there are only a few platforms that accept even 5 backlinks. When searching, mark the criterion stating that you want to take into account sites that allow at least 5 links and you’ll see that 95% of previously available pages will disappear.

So, how many outbound links should you place in a sponsored article to achieve the most optimal results? Well, we would advise you not to use more than 3 – remember that the fewer links you apply, the greater their link juice. As a publisher, you should ensure that your page isn’t filled only with backlinks as they affect its visibility in Google.

First link counts

The so-called first link rule suggests that it’s useless to provide numerous outbound links to the same site in one article as Google will analyze only the first anchor. To make things clear, look at the screenshot below:

outbound links and seo - first link counts rule

It’s a fragment of an article. Words with links are colored. All of them lead to the same site. The algorithm will consider only the first anchor and ignore the remaining ones.

However, there is a way to trick this rule –  the use of anchors, meaning links with #. Currently, it’s a very popular solution that should be applied for a number of reasons. It’s particularly useful when dealing with long entries. In this case, you can create internal sections so that e.g. smartphone users don’t have to scroll the entire article to access content that’s of interest to them. Then, they’ll only have to click on a link redirecting to a selected part. In the page code, this link looks in the following way:

<a href=”http://www.domain.com/outboundlinks/#firstlinkcounts”>

The code <a name=”firstlinkcounts”> has to be placed in the content of the destination page the users are supposed to reach after clicking on the link. Of course, it’ll work combined with the abovementioned link.

When talking about this scenario, it’s possible to fill the page with numerous links and Google will analyze all anchors. Although we can’t guarantee that the algorithm will treat all anchor links the same, it’s worth applying them, even if you aren’t involved in SEO. First of all, such navigation makes it easier for users to explore the content. Second of all, it’s an extra space for keywords.

Analyze the way links to articles are placed on your site. Most often, a post lead and a button like “read more” are found on the landing page. Both links placed there redirect to the same address. The first one should be an anchor link, followed by a link like “read more” (additionally, it’s advisable to change “read more” into a nofollow link). An example of such a solution can be seen below:

If you’re supposed to publish a sponsored article where the advertiser placed several links leading to the same website address, it’s worth mentioning that this way the client doesn’t benefit from the full potential of the publication.

Linking to quality sites is better than no outbound links

This subject has been approached differently over the years. While some people claimed that it was only an SEO myth, others followed the rule. The results of the test you can see here are the best proof that the titular sentence is true. The study was conducted some time ago, but it was repeated this year and the conclusions are pretty much the same. If your content links to quality sites, it’s better than having no outbound links in your article. Why?

It can be assumed that if you provide outbound links to valuable sources, your text will be perceived as trustworthy. When writing about quality pages we mean government, university, or institutional websites. It’s obvious that it’s one of the ranking factors. But how important is it? It’s hard to say.

increase your visibility

The test has shown that it’s better to include outbound links than not to include them, but don’t expect that any links will improve your visibility for competitive phrases. You also shouldn’t force yourself to link to sites if you don’t consider them a source of your content. Your goal is to provide users with valuable articles. Do you encounter numerous backlinks to information sources when browsing the net? Although only some people provide them, it’s worth doing it.

Too many outbound links have a negative impact on SEO

You already know that a large number of links placed in an article has a negative impact on the link juice. So how does the algorithm see the pages with too many outbound links? Google may evaluate them as sites that trade links. Such links won’t transfer any juice. You can still encounter the so-called link farms.

If there are dozens or even more than a hundred links on one subpage, Google may decrease the organic visibility of the platform. Even if the website is currently ranked high, it’s very likely that its position in the organic search results will deteriorate after an algorithm update. Of course outbound links are natural, but try to keep their number optimal, don’t create a link farm.

When to apply “nofollow” in the content?

Links placed in the content can have various attributes. The dofollow link is the most valuable for the linked platform as it transfers the SEO juice. However, it’s also beneficial to use “nofollow” outbound links. In the HTML code, they look like this:

<a href=”http://websiteaddress.com” ref=”nofollow”>link title</a>.

When to use nofollow? Let’s check Google’s suggestions:

outbound links nofollow attribute

The search engine is used to recommend adding the nofollow attribute for sponsored links, i.e. links that you pay for. Currently, it’s advisable to use it when you don’t want to transfer link juice. Website owners often used nofollow and still use it in order to prevent indexation of certain parts of the site, such as user profiles or privacy policies. However, the noindex tag is a much better and effective method to do it.

On your site, you can also apply “nofollow” in sections where users can include links e.g. in comments. However, Google recommends to use rel=”ugc” (user-generated content). Such a link looks in the following way:

<a href=http://websiteaddress.com ref=”ugc”>link title</a>.

Interestingly, Google suggests disabling this attribute for creators who are trustworthy and provide quality content:

While “nofollow” is still acceptable for sponsored links, rel=”sponsored” is a more recommended option. It’s hard to predict how Google will treat websites with sponsored articles and without this tag. Perhaps in the future, we’ll experience an algorithm update that will decrease the positions of such pages.

Delante is an online marketing agency specialized in generating website traffic from search engines and paid ads (SEO / SEM). Over 80% of our clients are from rapidly growing e-commerce industry.

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