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The Importance of Outbound Links

Linking to good resources and providing citations helps your readers and thus helps you.

Outbound links are links from your post, blog, or Web site to someone else's content. Outbound links encourage

surfing to other quality sites based on the link selection practices of the writer responsible for the page with the outbound link. In a sense, outbound links are the most important aspect of a page; they create the Web. They're a service to your readers, and a courtesy to other writers whose sites you've used in your post. Simply put, it's good netiquette to link to your sources, and to related resources for readers who want more information. Finally, good writers provide citations for their sources; on the Web, an outbound link functions as a source citation.

There are some things to keep in mind though:

  • The quality of your outbound links reflects on you. Poorly chosen links make you look incompetent, or even stupid.
  • Carefully chosen appropriate links encourage readers to return for your commentary or observations, or even for your resource-finding ability.
  • In general, unless you have a very good reason, don't have links open a new browser window; that's rude. Let your readers decide how they want links to open.
  • If you're part of a blogging network—a collection of blogs created by a single company or organization—do link to quality posts that are part of the network, where it's appropriate.
  • If you're linking to a site as a negative example—for instance, a site with truly incredibly unreadable pink on yellow text—use the rel="nofollow" tag. Using the "nofollow" tells the bots that spider sites for search engine listing not to give the site "points" because a good site (yours) linked to it.

Google does notice outbound links. From a technical point of view in terms of search engines and rankings, good quality outgoing links do affect the ranking of the pages that link to them. So, yes, it's a good idea technically to link to good sites, but the bottom line is that linking to good resources and providing citations are good for your readers, and thus good for you.