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Outbound Links: A Foundation Of The Web Fabric Is In Jeopardy

Steven 7 responses Blogging

There seems to be a visible decline in outbound links. I think a lot of it has to do with changes Google made in their algorithms, but I also think some of it has to do with bloggers who just don’t feel the need to link out. Here are some of the reasons bloggers are backing off on outbound links and some of the reasons why I still link up.

1 – Greed

I think this is the number one reason bloggers aren’t linking out anymore and it makes me kinda sad. In the past, bloggers linked out to each other as a way of promoting the entire blogging community, but these days everyone seems to be concerned about grabbing up as many readers as they can and hording them on their blog, whether they have anything to offer those readers or not.

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2 – WIIFM?

Jealousy is another reason. Smaller bloggers don’t want to link out to larger blogs because they already have plenty of traffic. The thought is, “I’ll link to you after you link to me, you already have more than your fair share.

3 – Page Rank Drain

Some bloggers don’t link out to other blogs because they don’t want all their page rank to drain away, which is absolutely ridiculous when you think about it. It’s not like you have 16 ounces of link juice per page and every time you link out it drains another ounce. All you’re doing when you link to another blog is recommending it. Google then awards that other blog with more authority based on your link, but they don’t “take” anything away from your blog.

4 – Ignorance

Some bloggers just don’t link out because they never realized they should and they’ve never been educated on the benefits. If you’re sharing information or ideas that you read on another blog, linking to that other blog gives you more credibility and it’s just the right thing to do.

All that said, here are some of the reasons I’m still linking up with other blogs:

1 – Support the community

In an earlier post I talked about why it’s important to avoid being a greedy blogger. The biggest reason I link out is because it helps support the entire blogging community. The blogosphere is like a marketplace and I believe each of us has a responsibility to help support the entire community as a whole.

2 – Credibility

Linking out to cite your sources increases your credibility with your readers. It eliminates the possibility of your reader asking, “Oh, yeah? How do you know?

3 – Etiquette

It’s just good manners to link to another blogger if you’re using information or ideas you found on his blog. And if you’re copy-and-pasting it word-for-word it’s not just good manners, it’s the law.

4 – Usefulness and Value

Your readers won’t abandon your blog simply because you link to useful or valuable information on another blog. They’ll thank you for it. They may follow that link and read that other blog, but they’ll keep coming back to yours as long as you continue to provide useful, valuable information.

5 – SEO

Part of your blog’s Google Page Rank is based on your blog’s usefulness. When you provide outbound links to useful information, your readers get extra value and social shares and incoming links increase. Google sees all this activity and awards you with increased page rank.

6 – Relationships

While I don’t believe you should look at outbound links as a way to get more incoming links, there is that potential benefit. Your outbound links should always be done to provide additional value for your readers. But there’s always the possibility that other blogger will see that link and want to make a connection with you. So outbound links can help build blogging relationships, too.

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  1. Hi Steven,

    Yet another great post! I agree with everything you say here. I understand the mentality as to why some may not want to do it, but I believe that outbound linking will help build your own credibility, traffic and relationships for the long haul, so those benefits far outweigh whatever short-term drawbacks there may be.

    I think, too that it can help to build social proof because if you’re someone who’s seen as getting involved with and supporting the community, then you’ll be attracting attention for the right reasons, some of the more established and well-known bloggers will spot you and appreciate you for it and, in turn, you may find that you will be more likely to be mentioned and/or linked back from their blogs.

    All in all, outbound linking is something that can be beneficial for all and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this post.

    Kind regards,
    Glenn :-)

  2. Mark

    I link out to relevant sites all the time, especially if I do a round up of stories related to my niche.

    I think by linking out I am adding something useful to my visitors. Whether or not Google agrees is hard to say but I am this for visitors instead of the search engines.

  3. Jeff

    Ok decent post. You made some great points and I agree with you on all accounts. But you just made a post about outbound links being endangered and didn’t even include an outbound link in this post??

    1. Linking just for the sake of linking is exactly why a lot of people stop linking altogether: it’s just pointless and your readers will stop clicking on your links. I link out when it’s needed to make a point or to give specific information.

  4. Steven, I link out because it gives me more credibility and if it adds value to my readers. I don’t check pageranks when I link out either. It’s not about pagerank, but to provide value to the post itself. I don’t do any reciporcal linking anymore. I think one of my sites was hit due to it but since recovered when I took the page down. Matt Cutts still advises us to link out too :) (Jeff made a good point, where is your link out on this one?)

  5. Hadass Eviatar

    I link out when I think that provides value to my readers. I also regularly give shout-outs to friends, thought leaders and anyone else I want to support with what little influence I have. I also agree that it is a great way to build relationships with leaders in your field – they may or may not respond to that particular link but they might surprise you by knowing your name in the future.

    There, is that long enough to be useful now? ;-).

  6. I link out for fun, to reference additional info, and to build relationships. I laughed my tush off when I got to “It’s not like you have 16 ounces of link juice per page and every time you link out it drains another ounce. That is so true!

    Just remember: copying word for word, any more than a quotation, without permission, may still be against the law even if you cite it properly – especially if you’re doing it for commercial gain.