Outbound Links are Gold for SEO and SEM – A Case Study

Outbound Links Diagram

Outbound links are invaluable for SEO and SEM, for general site awareness, buzz and outreach to other blogs and websites.

Here’s a little case study that demonstrates how linking out to other websites is great for SEO. As part of the promotion effort (and SEO) behind making PromoterHost popular, I search for and link to three related blog articles for every celebrity article and video I add to PromoterHost.

As previously on facebook, my aim is twenty articles per day. Yesterday I only got two done, so I am going to have to speed that up! However, I added 3 outbound links on each article, to other blogs.

I just got a thank you on twitter, from one of the websites – for featuring their post! This person only has 77 followers, but it just goes to show what a little outreach can do for SEO and promotion of your own website.

You can see the “thanks” for the Justin Bieber link here.

Outbound Links are Great for SEO

Some people say that adding outbound links to other blogs is not a good thing for SEO. I disagree, vehemently. I think people who say that are not looking at the full picture. Outbound links are a good way to get pingbacks (return links in comment sections) and exposure for your website. People are often excited to see that you’ve linked to them in their stats, or in their WordPress dashboard, so they’ll often subscribe to you or contact you to say thanks.

I will be adding twenty celebrity articles per day to PromoterHost, and I will be linking to three related blogs on every article. That’s 420 outbound links to other websites each week. If there’s anyone that can try and tell me that’s not good for business, then I am ready to argue with you. Let’s get started..

Arguments Against Outbound Links

People who argue against outbound links argue that:

  • They send your traffic away.
  • They give your page rank away.
  • They ruin your reputation.
  • They damage search engine rankings.

Here’s what I think about Outbound Links

If there’s anything you can do to get another set of eyeballs on your website, it’s a good thing. Google does not penalise your ranking, your PR or your search rankings for linking to other blogs and websites. The exception is that if you’re running a website about flowers and you link to a heap of link farms about web traffic in an attempt to get them to link back. That’s spammy and might very well get you penalised. Search engines don’t like link farms.

However, there’s absolutely no harm that can come from making legitimate links to legitimate, related websites that are discussing a similar subject. Another bonus is that because you’re linking to a website that has a similar subject, the administrator of that website will be all the more excited about the link, and more enthusiastic about future cooperation. And that’s a good thing. Cooperation is a great thing.

Back in the day, we had to contact websites one by one. “Your website would benefit greatly in search engines if you had more links, would you like to exchange links, blah, blah, blah” (so boring). Nine times out of ten the request got ignored (yawn). These days, you simply mention a blog in your post and they get automatically notified in their WordPress dashboard and you have yourself a link. If they don’t see it in their dashboard, they’ll see it in their stats.

But what about PR?

It’s 2016, get with the times. Clicks from twitter, facebook and other social media websites such as YouTube create PR in a roundabout way, even if the kinks are nofollow. Search engines know who’s visiting your website and how they got there. They know how long they’re spending there. They know the bounce rate; whether your content has captured the attention of the visitor or not. These are the factors which will lift your pages higher in the search rankings, giving your website more credibility and even higher PR. Search engines don’t really care where your visitor comes from (except if you’re paying for links); they care MORE about what happens when the visitors land. Was it a “targeted” visitor? ..is the primary question the search engine asks. Was the source of this visitor related to the content here? “Let’s see how the visitor behaves and find out”, is what the search engine is programmed to do.

Where do you think PR comes from? Do you think the Internet started with one website that was the gateway to PR and every website has been fed from that once source from the beginning, and the original website just keeps being fed PR from nothing? That might be how the federal reserve works, but PR doesn’t work that way. PR comes from BUZZ. It is possible to have a high PR page that literally has no links to it at all, if the page is popular enough. Your job is to create buzz for your website. Create interesting content, create an outreach program (link to other blogs), liaise with forums, groups and online communities, and your PR will grow. The best way to get links back is to create outbound links first. It works like magic.

PromoterHost is a brand new website, but I am a web developer with 20 years experience, building and promoting websites, blogs and online communities. You watch how PromoterHost grows over the next 12 months. Come and see the PR. I will not spend one dollar on advertising and I will not pay for one link or try to get a link from any high PR pages. Well, I won’t pay for promoting blog posts or the homepage, anyway. I have different strategies for the store and promotion of products will be different, but that’s another story.

Some Related Tips about PR, Links and Website Authority

Yes, getting a link from a high PR website can help your cause, but it’s not the only factor to take into consideration — or to aspire to. The best way to put it is that your website should be an attracter of PR — a builder/creator of PR, not a taker/beggar of PR. There’s a difference. If you get that part right, high PR sites will link to you anyway, which leads me to a related concept: Website authority.

Have you every noticed that on webmaster forums, groups and facebook pages (or any place you can post a link, really), if you post a link to a small website, more often than not some moderator will come barrelling over, hollering, screaming and beating you over the back with a keyboard for “spamming” – declaring that they’ll ban you (or they actually ban you), but if you post a link to an authority website, it will not raise an eyebrow? The rule of thumb on posting links online is that you’re allowed to post links to established websites that don’t need the promotion, but if you post a link to a smaller website, it’s spam. That’s the unsaid rule.

Your aim is to make your website, your brand an authority; the type of website that is talked about and posted in forums, and people leave the link there without raising an eyebrow. You can actually do that with a small website by merely making it LOOK like an authority; well presented, cleanly laid out and corporate looking.

The Moral of the Story

Everything above can be summed up like this: When it comes to outbound links, don’t be a “stinge”. What goes around comes around. It’s that simple. In life, people who give receive a lot more than people who don’t. The Internet is not different.

Useful References about Outbound Links

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Article written by: Leonard Wass

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