Is Linking to Other Websites good or bad for SEO?

Working in SEO we often find ourselves the ones attempting to gain links from other websites in order to increase our sites authority. We try to understand why someone would want to link to us and how to increase the chances of success in that area. The best way to do that is to imagine the shoe is on the other foot and someone is contacting us attempting to gain a link to their website.

Working in SEO we often find ourselves the ones attempting to gain links from other websites in order to increase our sites authority. We try to understand why someone would want to link to us and how to increase the chances of success in that area. The best way to do that is to imagine the shoe is on the other foot and someone is contacting us attempting to gain a link to their website.

Why should we link to you?

  • Would the page or website benefit our sites readers?
  • Is the website directly competing with us?
  • Is the specific page competing with us?
  • Does the website look good and appealing?
  • How much authority does the website have?
  • Would building a relationship with the site owner benefit us later?

These are just some of the things to consider before linking out.

Bad neighbourhoods

Due to the way Google has always worked to rank and understand sites through links we have to be careful where we get links from and where we are linking out to. Where we link to and who links to us tells the search engines a lot about our site, what the website is about and how much authority we are given.

Often “bad neighbourhoods” have been closely related to the three Ps (Poker, porn and pills). These areas of the web have been abused the most with spam and poor quality websites. However that doesn’t mean other areas of the web are clean because they are not often associated with spam and likewise you can link to quality gambling, pharma or even porn sites!

A recent Moz article explains how some porn sites are attracting likes and shares along with links from quality sources like the Huffington post and Buzzfeed.

If you were a frequent bingo player for example and you owned a blog you may naturally link out to a bingo site (an example of a good bingo site) because it has some interesting articles or info about the subject. This is perfectly fine and wouldn’t cause any issues to your website.

SEO benefits

It can actually help you to link out to authoritative related websites. It tells google you are related to this site and its subject. You will be associated with a “good neighbourhood” and be more likely to show up in related search results. It can also result in building a relationship with the author and or may help you gain more links and traffic back to you. For example there is a known tactic for that uses this technique called “ego bait”. It involves linking out to many other sites that may have tackled the same subject matter. For example if we made an article about the top 10 seo blogs, linked to them and mentioned their names, after contacting them about the post there is a good chance they will be grateful and either mention us on social or link to the post from their blogs.

How to link out?

Instead of just making a huge list on one page linking out to various blogs and websites with no content, it is best to make sure you have enough supporting content. If you have a page that is just consisted of links there is not a lot of value and there is a good chance it will not be indexed in the search results.

There is no exact rule but pages that have at least 250 words of content per a link seem to do the best.

Main takeaways are:

  • Link out to the site if it benefits your readers
  • Do a quick check of the URL in majectic seo or open site explorer to make sure their backlinks look natural.
  • Don’t link to competing pages. (eg. if the site is selling the same goods or services)
  • .gov / .edu and .ac.uk domains are typically great sites to link to.

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