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SEO question: value of external links

Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
In one of the sites that I help run, many of the articles used to have one or two links to external sites. Typically, these would be links to sites giving more information about the subject of the article.

My colleague recently decided to prune out all these external links. He did this because he didn't want our visitors to wonder off to those other sites; he wanted to keep them on our own site.

But I've always believed that, if a page contains good quality outward links, it will enhance the value of that page in the eyes of the search engines. It makes the page look more authoritative (a bit like a book that contains a bibliography perhaps). The engines might therefore rank it higher than they would otherwise.

What do you SEO experts think? Would it better if we re-instate the outgoing links?

Thanks in advance.

Mike
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
Since posting this, I've done some research. The consensus of opinion among SEO experts is that outward links don't make any difference to search engine rankings one way or the other.

However, if an outward link enhances the value of a page - for example, by directing the reader to extra information or to related topics - then that can only improve the overall quality of the page, and so is worth doing - regardless of the SEO implications.

Mike
 
Scottish Business Owner

Scottish Business Owner

New Member
Hi Mike,

I'm by no means an expert but I do think it makes sense to have external links like you say to enhance a post etc. I dont think keeping all the links internally is a good idea as I think it undermines the sharing aspect of the web.

Providing you dont link out to any dodgy type sites then I dont see what the problem is. I've heard a few people say that Google does in some small way look at who you link out to but how much it affects anything is open to interpretation. Like everything in SEO there will be posts totally contradicting each other.

Just my 2p anyway. I'll also try and contact a few seo people I know to see if I can get a more expert view of things :)
 
PeterHoggan

PeterHoggan

New Member
A site that has no external links is really a dead end. IMO external links are important, for example if you link to sites that Google deems poor quality rankings will fall, conversely linking to sites that are related, high quality sites is likely to be beneficial.

Authority sites are those that have gained thousands of links over time and rank well because of it. On the other hand Hubs are sites that predominantly link out to other high quality sites. Both hubs and authority sites rank well, however it’s difficult to create a site that’s either one or the other. The easiest route is to aim for somewhere in between.

Although Google doesn’t put much weight behind PageRank these days their rankings are still more or less governed by links. (There is more to link analysis than PageRank) I am certain that Google looks at the quality of outbound links, in fact the term for this is hubscore or hub rank which is a score based on the quality of outbound links.

I have no idea how much weight Google place on outbound links but i feel that you might not be doing your website or your business any favours by removing them.

If the link is helpful to the user I would leave it in place.
 
craig_mckenna

craig_mckenna

New Member
Hi Mike,

Just a personal opinion from my own experiences (I am not an expert on this at all!)
On my most read blog to date I had a number of links to the books that the blog referred to and I lost 87% of my traffic from that page as they linked through to the books!
On this occasion it wasn't a bad thing at all as I feel the links were a vital part of the piece but if you aim is to keep traffic on your site then minimise them would be my suggestion
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
Thanks for that, Craig. It's good to have your personal experience.

This whole question arose because a colleague decided to remove many of the outgoing links. It wasn't my decision. Since he did that, there seems to be no harm to the site's search engine rankings, and traffic is slightly up.

Of course, there are probably many factors that could affect ranking and traffic. My personal view is that, if an outgoing link increases the value of the site to the visitor, then it's worth having, but it's clearly not a big SEO issue.
 

iMS

New Member
You should always have a link out to external sites on your website.

Why? The answer is simple... kind of!

In this day and age the search engines are very skeptical and are stringent about quality control, which sites they show to users first and weeding out spammy sites.

A sure sign of a spam site (autoblogged or scraped content) is no links to external sites, keyword stuffing and other such methods considered spammy in the eyes of the search engines.

The notion that having an external link will cause you to lose visitors is valid... however, by having links to AUTHORITY sites it will give the search engines less chance to believe you are a webmaster running a spam website.

The best way to integrate these links is to only include them when they can be of great value to your website visitors... if you provide great information your visitors will be grateful. If you link to information that is of genuine help to them, they will remember you for it and your credibility will go UP in their eyes.

I'm all for it, personally.
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
IMS,

You've made two separate points.

You say that outgoing links add the the authority of the site, and are of value to visitors. That's obviously true. If that was my only concern, I wouldn't have posted the question.

You also say that the absence of links is a "sure sign" of a spammy site. I don't see any evidence for that.

I agree that, if there are good quality outward links, the site is probably not spammy, but that doesn't mean that the opposite is true. In other words, merely by removing the links, it doesn't automatically lower the site in the search engines' eyes.

In my case, the question is now academic. Personally, I would rather include a reasonable number or links, but, rightly or wrongly, my colleage has now removed most of them. In doing so, he has probably made the site less valuable than it was before, but he has certainly not done any harm to its search engine rankings.

Mike
 

iMS

New Member
Firstly, I didn't say an absence of outbound links was a sure sign of a spammy site at all. Please be more careful when quoting ;)

What I did say was "A sure sign of a spam site (autoblogged or scraped content) is no links to external sites, keyword stuffing and other such methods considered spammy in the eyes of the search engines"

I was trying to get the point across that the absence of outgoing links is not natural for a website and in the eyes of search engines anything that is not natural is detrimental.

The absence of outbound links actually does DOES harm search engine rankings but not to the extent where a site will fall to page ten when it was sitting in third spot on page one.

SE's rank websites based on complex algorithms that could entail hundreds of different factors. Whilst off and on page SEO are crucial, there are less important factors the search engines take into consideration as well.

Outbound linking is one of them. Anyone who has extensive SEO experience will tell you that it's imperative to include outbound links where appropriate. For best impact it's best to include links to relevant websites, the higher ranked the better and to link to them using relevant anchor text.

Too many outbound links can also HARM a website's ranking so it's important to have the right balance. The way I do this is to only include an outbound link when it's neccessary to further answer a question or provide more valuable information a searcher is looking for.

And as for your colleague removing them, I can only assume he was trying to ensure searchers stay on his website and stop a leak of potential customers leaving... ask yourself how the search engines would view this practice...

Is this a website that is user friendly? Does it have the best interest of the searcher in mind? Should it be ranked highly for it's targeted keywords?
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
Ims,

I can only say that, in this particular case, removing the links did not appear to do any harm. I'm not saying that would be true for sites in general, and I'm not trying to draw any general conclusions from that.

Mike
 

iMS

New Member
Hi Mike

It's a funny game is SEO... sometimes you think you have it cracked and then you can plain ignore all the "rules" and a site will rank highly anyway. Other times you can play by the "rules" and your site just wont rank at all!

On the whole, doing the basics right is key to ranking well. Having high quality outbound links is not part of basic SEO but integrating them cannot have any negative affect that I have experienced other than;

1. Losing site visitors (I actually personally think they will hold you in higher regard for doing this and will be more likely to trust/buy from you)

2. Having too many and diluting their effectiveness.

You'll find some SEO's staunchly defend their use and others tell you they are useless... it's just a big can of worms!

Have a good day!
 

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