Friday, March 25, 2011

Outbound Links for SEO, or Other Reasons?

Here's a recent, but common question that came in:

"What's your advice regarding adding external links to page XXX on my site?" (An "About Us" page)

Quick Answer:

External links (to information pages, not other services or applications) are used to accomplish these primary goals:

  1. Purely to help the reader understand the content/topic better, or to support or find what they’re ultimately seeking – this probably doesn’t apply on this page, unless the executives on the page have material elsewhere on the Internet that they’ve published, or qualifications/recognition/news that’s related.
  2. To satisfy an objective related to support for the target, i.e. we’ve got a business relationship, we actively support the link target from a marketing perspective, we’re obligated to link to them – this may not apply to page XXX (like it might on a “partners” page). However, the one “XXX” link, since they’re a client, could point to a credential posted on the site, or to a client page that you've influenced.
  3. To help SEO - outbound links to pages that support this page’s topic, and build the context of credibility and authority around the topic and our relationship to it, are good (only if the target links themselves are very good, like a Wikipedia page, or recognized industry expert) – this probably doesn’t apply to this page
  4. For governance reasons – i.e. law, mandate, policy, affiliate agreement, copyrights, etc…like links to certifying authorities, legislation, etc.


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