Written by
Torbjørn Flensted
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August 15, 2023

The Outbound Links Confusion: Does Google Still Reward Your External Links in 2023?

Outbound linking is riddled with misconceptions, making clarity essential for SEO enthusiasts.

The Outbound Links Confusion: Does Google Still Reward Your External Links in 2023?

Do outbound links still play a role in your SEO strategy for 2023?

What if I told you that there's been a confusion circulating in the SEO community recently?

What is the Outbound Link Confusion About?

There’s an article that's taken the SEO world by storm. It comes from a well-regarded platform, Search Engine Land, and the title? Well, it suggests that outbound links have no impact on your SEO.

A shocking revelation, right?

But what if I told you it’s been taken out of context?

Many folks, after reading the title, believed that their efforts in placing outbound links were in vain. But, the actual message was more nuanced. It's not just about linking out; it's about linking out in a meaningful, user-centric manner. You see, this all started when Google’s John Mueller made a statement that seemed to undermine the value of outbound links. And as you can imagine, the SEO community went into a bit of a frenzy…

"Outbound links have always been an integral part of an SEO strategy. However, it’s not just about linking to any high-authority site. It’s about providing value. Think of it like recommending a book to a friend; you wouldn’t just pick any book, right? You’d choose one that resonates with their interest. Similarly, link out to sites that enhance the user's experience. A practical tip? Always ask yourself if the link truly benefits your reader.” – Torbjørn Flensted, Founder of SEO.ai

Also read: Yes, Outbound Links Will Improve Your Rankings - If They Are Helpful

Evolution of Outbound Linking Strategy

Let’s get this straight:

Outbound links are not obsolete. But the strategy behind them has evolved.

The days of mindlessly linking out are over. It's the age of intentionality! Think of Google as that friend who values quality over quantity. They won’t be impressed with you linking out for the sake of it. No. It’s about the user experience.

Let's say you've written about vintage watches. An outbound link to a generic watch page won’t do much. But link to an article about the history of vintage watches? Now that’s gold! But, here comes the twist:

Google doesn’t directly reward you for these outbound links. Instead, they look at indirect metrics.

Remember the time on site or dwell time? Yes, that indirectly helps you rank!

The goal is to enhance the user’s journey, guiding them to the best resources and connecting your site.

The rule of thumb?

Every link should have a purpose, a genuine reason for its existence on your page.”

SEO Tip: When placing outbound links, envision them as trails in a forest. Make sure every trail leads somewhere interesting and valuable. Don't create a path that ends in disappointment. So, before linking, spend a few minutes on the target page. Is it informative? Will your readers thank you for it? If yes, link away!"

FAQs on Outbound Linking Strategy

Why are outbound links important?

Outbound links function as the internet's "word-of-mouth" recommendation system. By offering authoritative references, you enhance content credibility and cultivate an environment of trust, essentially nurturing a symbiotic relationship between your site and others in your niche.

Do outbound links directly boost my SEO?

Not in a direct sense. However, outbound links, when utilized effectively, can positively impact user engagement metrics like dwell time and bounce rate, indirectly influencing SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings.

Should I remove all non-relevant outbound links?

Absolutely. Irrelevant outbound links can confuse readers and dilute your content's focus. Regular link audits ensure that every link aligns with your content's intent, maintaining a seamless user experience.

How many outbound links should a page have?

It's not a numbers game, but a quality chase. While there's no fixed rule, the link-to-content ratio should always favor relevancy. Whether it's ten links or two, prioritize their relevance to the subject at hand.

How can I ensure my outbound linking strategy is effective?

It boils down to user-centricity. Every outbound link should pass the value proposition test: does it enhance content comprehension, offer additional insights, and fortify your content's trustworthiness? If yes, you're on the right track!

The Outbound Links Confusion: Does Google Still Reward Your External Links in 2023?

This is an article written by:

Passionate SEO expert, Torbjørn Flensted, boasts two decades of industry experience. As the founder of SEO.ai and having run an SEO agency for 13 years, he's spent the last decade pioneering cutting-edge tools, transforming how agencies and professionals approach Search Engine Optimization.