By Aliza Earnshaw on May 27, 2011
Outbound Links Are Good for Search Engines
You're probably aware that you need inbound links to your site from other websites if you want to rank well in search results. You may already be taking the time to create great content and publicize it, so more people will link to your site. Perhaps you're even tracking inbound links, and thanking the people who have linked to your site.
What you may not realize is that outbound links - the links from your website to other sites - can also help you build your Web presence, and get more people coming to your site.
Linking to websites you think are important and relevant to your topics provides people with valuable information they won't find on your site. You're also telling search engines what your site is about, and that you are a good Web citizen who understands that linking is how people discover new things.
Outbound Links Are Good for Human Visitors
Outbound links tell people that you want to provide them with good information, even if it’s not on your own site. Linking is inherently a generous and helpful act. When other website owners see you linking to them, it can prompt them to link to your site. These links can boost your site's reputation, and its ranking in search results.
Linking Puts You in Good Standing with Search Engines
The Web is all about linking. Links are how search engines discover new web pages and add them to their index. They're also how search engines figure out what a web page is about, and judge how important it is to people.
Carefully chosen outbound links on your site tell search engines that you understand the value of linking, and that you're a good Web citizen who's offering help to people. Without actually awarding your site any additional ranking, your outbound links nonetheless demonstrate your goodwill, in contrast to the vast hordes of spammers on the Web.
It's possible for people to insert links on your site without your knowledge, if they're clever enough. These links could point to sites you don't endorse, like or want to be associated with. Checking your links regularly means you can stay on top of any malevolent or mischievous linking, uncommon though it is.
You can check the sites linked from your home page with the free AboutUs Home Page Analysis. Check the links from every page of your site with the AboutUs Site Report. Your monthly subscription covers reporting on the most important SEO (search engine optimization) elements of your site in addition to checking your outbound links in real time.
Checking outbound links is important even if no one is hacking your site. You could have links on your site that are broken, or point to a different site than you thought they did. Sites can change ownership overnight, and a link that once pointed at a useful resource may now be leading people to a different site...or to an error page.
Don't allow broken links to linger on your site - it makes for a bad user experience. You should also remove any links to outdated or unrelated sites, or update them so they point to good resources.