Outbound Links Tutorial

Outbound links

You’ve got a link here and a link there. The internet is full of links. Each time you click a link, chances are, it means you’re traveling from a certain webpage to another. In SEO, understanding the outbound link is one step forward for your on-site optimization. I’ll also be talking about hidden keywords in your links below. This is a Tutorial for Outbound Links

Going out of your way

Outbound links are links that are meant to take you elsewhere. These are links that are going to direct you to another specific webpage or website altogether. Most, if not all, websites have outbound links.

Two sides of a coin

There are two (2) kinds of outbound links. There is the nofollow link and the dofollow link.

The dofollow link is the normal link. It is the default link. The common link. The normal link. You don’t have to add to the code, you don’t have to change anything. Just make a link and it’s automatically a dofollow link. A dofollow link is what every link should be like. It passes on Google PageRank juice from your webpage to the targeted webpage.

A nofollow link is the abnormal link. It does not pass on any Google PageRank juice to the targeted webpage but instead, it blocks off the Google PageRank flow. A nofollow link has a rel=”nofollow” tag inside the code. This tag says to the Google spider ‘not to follow’ the link.

Why do you add a nofollow tag to a link?

Adding a nofollow tag stops the search spider from crawling that targeted webpage. Most webmasters do this when they do not want to give out Google PageRank juice to the targeted webpage.

For example, I need to link to Facebook to advertise my Facebook page. Since Facebook already has millions of incoming links to it and my link towards Facebook would make minimal difference, I decide not to give it any PageRank juice so that I can keep some for myself. So I add the nofollow tag to my link which makes it look like this:

<a href=”http://www.facebook.com/SEOHacker” rel=”nofollow”> Join the SEO Hacker Facebook Page</a>

That’s the only reason why I put in nofollow tags. Otherwise, if I want to cite out a specific source of relevant information, I give out dofollow links because:

  1. It is only right to do so
  2. It makes Google recognize you as a hub of that specific resource – which makes you rank higher in the long run
  3. The webmaster of the target webpage might recognize you and perhaps link back to you

Don’t use nofollow tag for every outbound link because nofollow tags still deduct some Google PageRank juice from your webpage even if it gives none to your targeted webpage. It’s a lose-lose scenario. Play fair. Give out dofollows if the target webpage deserves it.

Where are you going?

An anchor text is used to describe a link. In fact, it is nearly the only description of your link that users will see. These are the underlined texts highlighted in blue (in most cases) that are clickable. Anchor texts are used to describe a link – which means that it is also used as keywords of that targeted webpage.

A good anchor text from another webpage is important to support your keywords. A link with the right anchor text could greatly boost the search engine’s  awareness of your webpage’s keywords. If ever you would have the chance to get a link from another blogger, keep in mind that the anchor text he/she will give you can help your webpage/site to rank higher with your target keywords if you let him/her use it as the anchor text.

Hidden Keywords

The Anchor Title attribute of a link is one of the neglected attributes. It is an attribute that can hold your keyword inside but more importantly, it is an attribute that helps people know more about the target webpage you’re pointing out to. Not many people give notice to the title attribute since it is not practiced by many. But that’s exactly why you should keep your title attributes up to date – because it’s an edge you can use.

The code for the title attribute is  title=”insert title here”

For example:

<a href=”http://seo-hacker.com” title=”SEO for beginners”> Learn SEO in simple terms</a>

Tips for Keeps: Be mindful of your outbound links. Add the nofollow attribute when necessary. Otherwise, give some link love. Take the time to write out a good anchor text and anchor title for other people’s benefit. You’ll never know who might return the favor.

This entry is part of the SEO Hacker School series: Complete On Site Optimization Tutorial

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  • Dre

    Hey Sean, thanks for illuminating some of the factors involved when placing outbound links. Here are 2 questions that popped into my mind while reading your post: What is the optimum amount of outgoing links that a web page should have? How many links does it take before your page starts to get penalized?

    • There really is no real optimum. Just don’t go over what is humanly acceptable. And make sure you’re pointing out to good, quality, relevant pages/sites.
      The question is not ‘how many’ links you have before you get penalized but ‘what kind’ of links do you have. If you’re pointing out to porn or virus/spyware/malware infected sites, you’re gonna get it.

  • Dre

    Thanks Sean.

  • Aloha Sean, very interesting, gosh so much to keep in mind. It seem as if the interest is getting more simple to get on here, but behind the doors, there are software blocking what matters. Glad I came by and thanks for sharing! Mahalo, Lani :)

    • Hey Lani!
      Yes, you bet! There are now so many things to be mindful about (and that’s just in on-site optimization). I’m sorry but I don’t get what you mean by ‘software blocking what matters’ – can you please clarify on that? :)
      Please do drop by again.

  • So, I’m a little confused as to which links I should tag nofollow. I have a new site and I have linked to a couple of sites including a couple of blogging sites, facebook, and twitter. I know you had said that I should link facebook as nofollow, but I want to be sure what other links I should tag nofollow.

    • Hi Anuj,
      You should tag links that you don’t want to give linkjuice to because they’re already ranking for what they want. On the other hand, I’m not telling you that you strictly should avoid linking out to popular sites like FB and Twitter. Coz you can link to your own Facebook page if you want because you might want it to rank higher in the search engines (it’s your page anyway)

  • Taran

    Its a great tutorial.Thank you Sean for sharing wonderful post.

  • Hey Sean, great post. Thanks for the very insightful information. I do have some concerns about my SEO on my new website.
    Before reading any information I heard that backlinks are a must for websites to gain PR and get the increase in traffic flow. So I started purchasing backlinks to get the ball rolling, which now I am realizing was probably a very bad choice. It looks like approx. 98% of the links I purchased are listed as nofollow. How do I fix this rookie mistake? Do I attempt to delete all the links that I purchased, leaving the legitimate ones that I made the correct way?
    Any suggestions

    • Hi Mike,
      You’re very welcome. Yes backlinks do help gain PR. Purchasing backlinks is a big no-no. Google has lots of ways on detecting purchased backlinks.
      Nofollow links don’t pass on linkjuice to your website. If you could delete the purchased links, that would be best. If not, you have to build for yourself more, better links that would increase your authority so to minimize the possible damage of the low quality links you’ve bought to point to your website.