Links play an essential role in online content by guiding visitors to related pages. Without them, visitors won’t be able to navigate or use your website. Along with internal links, though, you should add outbound links to your website’s content.
What Are Outbound Links?
An outbound link is a type of hyperlink that takes visitors to a different website when clicked. If the domain of a link’s target URL is different than the domain on which the link is published, it’s considered an outbound link.
Internal links, conversely, link to a page on the same domain than that on which the link is published.
To create an outbound link:
- Highlight the keywords you want to add the link to.
- Click the link icon in your editor
- Add the full URL with the prefix such as https://
Why Your Website Needs Outbound Links
High-quality outbound links offer significant value to visitors. While many have similar content, no two websites have the same content.
You can guide your website’s visitors to other websites with relevant and unique content with outbound links.
Building high-quality outbound links may increase your website’s rankings on Google, Bing, and other search engines.
If your website only has internal links, search engines may rank it low in the search results.
Search engines understand that content with high-quality outbound links offers greater value to visitors, so they prioritize it in the search results.
Furthermore, outbound links often attract inbound links. As you build outbound links, some of the websites to which you link may reciprocate the act by linking to your website.
Upon discovering these newly created inbound links, search engines may give your website higher rankings.
Citations offer the perfect opportunity to build outbound links. When writing articles or other forms of text content for your website, you should cite your sources.
For example, if you mention a fact or statistic, include the name of the website from which you acquired the information.
You can then add an outbound link pointing to the source’s website to complete the citation.
Don’t Link to Competitors.
When building outbound links, avoid linking to competitors’ websites. If another website has the same commercial objective as your website, such as to sell a specific type of product, you shouldn’t link to it.
Linking to a competitor’s website can still offer search engine optimization (SEO) benefits, as well as increased value to visitors, but it comes at the cost of fewer conversions.
As visitors follow the outbound links, they may engage with the competitor’s website rather than your website.
Optimize the Anchor Text
It would be best if you optimized the anchor text used in your website’s outbound links. For citations, the source’s brand name should suffice as the anchor text.
Don’t just copy and paste the source’s URL. Instead, visit the source’s website to identify its brand name, as well as the format in which it’s presented, which you can use for the citation’s anchor text.
Consider using descriptive anchor text that integrates naturally in your website’s content for other types of outbound links.
If you’re writing an article on cybersecurity and want to link to a website about ransomware protection, perhaps you can use “ways to protect against ransomware” or “ransomware protection tips” as the anchor text.
Just remember to integrate the anchor text naturally to flow coherently with the rest of the page’s content.
Target Authority Websites
Always target authority websites when building outbound links. What is an authority website exactly? Authority websites are established, reputable sites that have earned search engines’ trust.
Search engines have already vetted them, so they usually have higher and more consistent rankings than their non-authority counterparts.
Because authority is subjective, there’s no easy way to tell which websites are an authority and which ones aren’t. You’ll have to look for various cues to determine whether a website is an authority.
Authority websites tend to have hundreds or thousands of inbound links. They also tend to have rich, long-form content, which is partly responsible for their high number of inbound links.
Websites typically link to other websites because they want to share the other site’s content with their visitors.
With their top-tier content, authority websites attract more inbound links than non-authority websites.
Don’t try to cut corners by automating the creation of your website’s outbound links. As a webmaster, there are specific tasks you can automate, but building outbound links aren’t one of them.
The plugins for WordPress and other content management systems (CMSs) automatically create outbound links in the content.
The problem with these plugins is that they don’t always choose the most relevant websites to link to, nor do they use the most appropriate anchor text.
For healthy outbound links, create them manually rather than using a plugin, app, or other automated solution.
Affiliate links that are used frequently can be automated. For this, I use Thirsty Affiliates which tracks the number of times each outbound link is clicked.
Moderate User-Generated Outbound Links
It’s not uncommon for websites to support user-generated outbound links. If your website has commenting enabled, for instance, visitors might be able to create outbound links in their comments.
If you’re going to allow user-generated outbound links on your website, you need to moderate them.
Otherwise, visitors may link to low-quality or irrelevant websites.
To preserve the quality of your website’s outbound links, you should review all user-generated outbound links before publishing them.
Check Outbound Links Regularly
You should check your website’s outbound links regularly to ensure they still work. Just because an outbound link works when you originally publish it, there’s no guarantee that it will continue to work months or years later.
If the website or page to which you link is deleted or moved to a new location, the outbound link will no longer work.
To check the functionality of your website’s outbound links, you can either click each outbound link manually to see where they take you, or you can scan all your website’s outbound links at once using a free service like brokenlinkcheck.com.
Effective website content requires links to guide visitors to other related pages.
Rather than only using internal links, however, you should use a combination of internal and outbound links.
High-quality outbound links will improve your website’s performance by promoting higher search rankings and more traffic, both of which drive conversions.