by Team Yakkety Yak August 14, 2018
Boosting your brand’s Google ranking can be as simple as adding a few outbound links to your next article. Outbound links connect your site to other webpages, which helps you link up with influencers in your field, capitalize on their audience and increase your credibility. It might sound easy, but there’s a fine line between a successful outbound link and one that bogs down your content. Read on to understand the difference, and learn how you can gain traction through these bad boy URLs.
Outbound links are links that direct users away from your site to a different webpage. Links make the Internet go ‘round, and outbound links play a huge part of that. “Some might think, ‘Why would I want to lead visitors AWAY from my site?’” says Yakkety Yak SEO Analyst Curtis Weigel. “That’s a valid question, but there are a few reasons:”
“Outbound links help engines understand what your site is about,” Weigel explains. “If you link to footwear sites all the time, Google will recognize that your site and content is about shoes.” Google has “crawlers” that scan the Internet all day long and add webpages to the Google index. Outbound links serve as reference points for crawlers, which help them get a better sense of your website.
Google’s top priority is to provide users with information that they actually want to see. So, when someone searches “women’s shoes,” outbound links help Google understand which sites have real answers to the user’s request. If you frequently link to footwear sites, crawlers realize you’re talking about shoes, and Google lists you higher up on the results list.
Note: Google doesn’t accept payments in exchange for higher rankings, so it’s your team’s job to get your site to the top of their list organically. Here’s how Google describes its ranking system.
Outbound links have a big impact on how useful your site is to visitors. “No one site has all the information in the world on a given topic,” says Weigel. “Helping your visitors find what they’re looking for—even if it’s not on your site—will help them see your website as a valuable resource.”
Just like Google, your goal is to answer user questions. Outbound links allow you to provide users with more content that may address what they’re looking for. “If you’re a valuable resource, people will likely return to your site and/or recommend it to others,” Weigel says.
The Internet is no stranger to the “Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” philosophy. “Other websites and SEO pros know how valuable incoming links are,” says Weigel. “If they see that you’re sending them quality traffic, they might throw some back your way.”
DO: Use relevant anchor text.
The linked text should be specific enough that the reader knows exactly where they’ll end up after clicking. The linked text in “More chocolate cake recipes” is more representative of the content on the other end of the link than “More chocolate cake recipes.”
DON’T: Be too vague … or too specific.
Make your anchor text reader-friendly. In the example above, “More” is too general. More what? Funny cat gifs? Photos of grandmas water-skiing? While that’s definitely something we’d like to see, we’re looking for cake recipes. Be specific with your anchor text.
There’s also such a thing as overly detailed anchor text. This usually results in a lengthy phrase your viewer isn’t going to fully read, like “More velvety and delicious homemade chocolate cake recipes.” (Tempting, but too long).
DO: Open the link in a new tab.
The point of outbound links is to provide your viewer with additional, useful content. But that doesn’t mean they have to abandon your site. Formatting the outbound link to open in a new browser tab presents the viewer with the option to read the content. They can easily navigate back to where they left off on your website.
Outbound links are an easy and incredibly effective way to generate useful content and improve your website’s SEO ranking. However, it’s easy to craft a less-than-perfect outbound link that underperforms. Follow our do’s and don’ts to ensure you’re building quality outbound links that benefit your viewer and your brand. And if you need help getting Google’s attention or churning out quality content that performs well month after month, let’s yak. We would love to develop a content strategy for you that connects you to your ideal audience, and keeps them coming back time and again.