Modern Marketing: The Power of the Outbound Link
Determining the correct SEO and marketing strategies can be a bit difficult in this day and age. One of the most common “gray” areas centers around the use of outbound links. There are arguments both for and against their use and unfortunately, these strategies have often been associated with negative effects (1). This is much more of a myth than a reality. The fact of the matter is that outbound links have ALWAYS been used to boost SERP rankings and enhance SEO techniques. So why should marketers always employ these handy tools within their sites and what are some of the most profound benefits that they have to offer?
Added (and Scalable) Value
Even if you spend years developing a powerful website which offers turnkey solutions within your niche market, the simple fact is that you cannot be everything for everyone at the same time. To put it simply, some users will still not find what it is that they may be looking for. Quality outbound links can help to bridge this informational gap. Leveraging the power and sheer breadth of the online community will help to provide a better personal experience to the visitor. In other words, sites which offer relevant links to similar websites will be perceived better by the visitor. In turn, they can be prone to associate your portal with a higher level of quality. Let's also remember that tracking clickthrough rates and similar metrics is much easier if you include outbound links within your content.
Agreeable to Algorithms
We have all heard how Google is changing its ranking methods. Over time, these overlords have become much more discriminating in terms of how a website is perceived and as their algorithms become smarter, targeted keywords and a clean layout are no longer enough. Quality outbound links provide two major benefits (2):
They help Google to further understand the content of the page.
Quality links build a solid reputation and therefore, the page itself scores higher.
Low-quality sites tend to include spam-filled links and unsurprisingly, these portals will suffer in terms of exposure. It is likely that the algorithmic demands from Google will become even more stringent into the foreseeable future.
Linking Out and Linking In?
Whether or not we realize it, we are all part of a greater online community. One of the mistakes that can be made is to assume that outbound links offer a one-off effect and that this effect ends once the user navigates to the page in question. However, websites which provide reputable links to other portals also tend to enjoy a greater number of inbound links. This arises from the fact that third-party sites and content managers will appreciate that you are “spreading the word”. They are more likely to return the favor and feature your product or service on their page. This is perhaps where the term “link” came from; we are all parts of an ever-increasing virtual marketing chain.
Finally, we need to appreciate that outbound links create opportunities for other professionals (such as bloggers, forum members, and social media experts) to visit and interact with your site. This can help to add a sense of reputability and once again, such engagement will further boost your rankings.
Of course, the term “quality” has been used in this article multiple times. It is only through transparent and trustworthy link-building techniques that you will enjoy such benefits. Much like any other marketing strategy, you get out what you initially put in!