Search Engine Optimization Tip #9: Linking Out to Other Web Sites

This is search engine optimization tip number nine in our continuing series of search engine optimization tips. Each search engine optimization tip is very specific, should not take a long time to fix (or to check to see if you are following the search engine optimization best practices), and will be rather “short and sweet” and directly to the point.

Link Out If you have not been following along with all of our search engine optimization tips, you might want to take a look at the previous SEO tips that we have already talked about. In search engine optimization tip number eight, the last tip, we talked about Alt Tags and how you need to make sure that your keywords are in your Alt Tags and that they need to describe specifically what the image is and what someone will see when they look at it. Previously, before that, we talked about the anchor text of internal links. Then, before that, we talked about having keyword in your urls, linking to your home page, the meta keywords tag, the keywords on your web page, the meta description tag, and your web page’s title tag. All of these “search engine optimization tips” are things I look at when analyzing a site or optimizing it for the search engines. Keep in mind, though, that this is only the beginning. There are a lot more search engine optimization tips coming.

For this ninth search engine optimization tip, let’s talk about being what I would call a “good internet citizen” and how your web site is seen as participating in the internet community. That’s right, not only is it a good thing to have links to your web site it’s also a good thing to link out to quality web sites. Would you believe it if I told you that your web site would rank better in the search engines if you link out to other web sites? Yes, it’s true.

You might want to take a look at a recent Search Engine Watch article that talks about linking out to other web sites. In that article, a friend of mine, Justilien Gaspard, says:

 

By its nature, a search engine looks for sites that are helpful to its end users. If the engine is ranking sites that aren’t useful to people, its user base will shrink. It’s in a search engine’s best interest to find and rank the most useful sites first.

 

With that in mind, when a search engine discovers a page pointing users in the direction of more useful information, that page will be given more credit.

I have actually tested this search engine optimization tip recently on a blog. I studied several blog posts and all of the blog posts “ranked well” except for one. That one blog post that did not rank as well as the others ended up not having an outgoing link to another trusted, authoritative, “on-topic” web page. So, if you have a web page on your web site that talks about “red widgets”, then you need to link out to another web page that talks about “red widgets”.

So, to help a web page rank better in the search engines (especially in Google), it is important to link out. When you’re creating that web page, do a search for your keyword phrase, find a web site that is already ranking well for that keyword phrase (most likely in the top 5 or top 10 search results) and link out to it using the same keyword phrase that you’re targeting. For example, your “red widgets” page should link out to the Wikipedia page about “red widgets” using the anchor text “red widgets”.

This does not mean that if you have an e-commerce site selling something you need to link to your competitors. You might, though, consider adding a section to your web page(s) where your products are listed and link out to a non-commercial web site (Wikipedia, About.com, or other non-commercial resource) might be a good choice.

Linking out to other on-topic, authoritative web sites is a good thing. You’re not only helping your visitors by giving them more information about the subject, you are also being a good internet citizen–by making sure that your web page and your web site is not seen as a “dead end” when the search engines crawl your web site looking for links.

  • Thanks for sharing this information… I earlier thought… only links from other sites pointing towards our site is important… let me try and see if this helps…

  • Glad to hear other SEO's are finally figuring this out. This particular tactic has been one our "secrets" to success for the last ten years.

    Bravo!

    P.S. – you have one of the best looking, easiest to navigate sites on the Web

  • A very good Idea, we recently visited a site selling seo software and it had several good reference sites related to its page topic, one of the links was to a link in wikipedia which had some useful info about the seo in the words of a 3rd party

  • Anders

    Hi Bill, I heard that a website leaks page rank if it links to other sites. Is it a good compromise to link to other sites, but use the 'nofollow' in the link code?