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How important are outbound links?
Are outbound links good or bad for PageRank?
Crizzie




msg:205432
 8:40 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi All,

Are outbound links good / necessary in order to improve my pagerank and my listing in Google?

My site has between 20-30 inbound links with pages with pageranks of 3 to 7. Is it important to link back to them?

Another question, how long does it take to get a pagerank in Google (it is grey at the moment)?

Thanks,

Chris

 

Shakil




msg:205433
 8:47 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

from personal experience I do NOT think outbound links are necessary (to external sites I mean)

being a hypocrite, I try and NOT give an outbound link unless it is absolutely essential.

the whole point of running a business is to keep within your shop/store/domain etc

why send them elsewhere.

obviously this is not the line I use when trying to get inbound links.

Shak

troels nybo nielsen




msg:205434
 10:13 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

Welcome to Webmasterworld, Crizzie.

Very few people outside Google know for sure if outbound links improve the PR, but some of us suspect that it does, because our own experiences point in that direction. And indeed it would be logical. The idea would be that outbound links to relevant sites with good PR help to establish your own website as an authority in its field.

But apart from that you should think of your visitors before you think of the search engines. They should always have some good links to get away from a page. Sooner or later they will leave it anyway and it's best if they leave it in a positive and constructive way. So give them good and relevant links. Internal links or outbound links as best you can. Links that lead them to answers to those questions that are raised in their minds by reading your page. The better you treat your visitors the more of them will return.

You should only link back to those other website if these links are relevant for your visitors. (Or if you have promised the other webmasters to do so!)

No one can promise you for sure when you will get a PR. You may hope to have one at the next big update which might be expected in a couple of weeks.

Troels

BigDave




msg:205435
 10:46 pm on Dec 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

PageRank of a specific page is unaffected by outbound links. Where some people around here worry about PR leak, thinking that they can send that PR to some of their own internal pages, but in reality, most navigation schemes will still recycle most of your PR back to your own pages it only a little going to other pages.

There might be a benefit to having outgoing links in other parts of the algorithm though. I personally recommend it because it is the way that the web is supposed to be. Having good on topic outgoing links, even to your competitors, can improve your standing in the eyes of your customers.

In a bricks and mortar case, there is an industry where they sell widgets (that you sit in and paddle around on the ocean) where two of the most well respected companies in the area have talked me out of purchasing their products and suggest that another store has something that would serve me better. The other store was high pressure, I bought what I needed from them but the store that wanted to make sure I got the right item earned my loyalty, and more importantly my trust.

If you are a good resource, you will make it into peoples bookmarks, and you will get the repeat business.

Axacta




msg:205436
 12:24 am on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Somewhat over a year ago it was speculated on WW that placing one or two outgoing links with keyword titles, to high PR sites would eventually be considered beneficial to your own site's PR and/or SERP's. But by the summer of this year that theory had been totally abandoned.

MeditationMan




msg:205437
 2:09 am on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Somewhat over a year ago it was speculated on WW that placing one or two outgoing links with keyword titles, to high PR sites would eventually be considered beneficial to your own site's PR and/or SERP's. But by the summer of this year that theory had been totally abandoned.

I agree there's no reason to think that linking to other sites will boost your PR. The whole concept of PR is predicated on the value of incoming links.

But I know that a lot of people do think that having links to *relevant* sites may well help establish your relevance for a particular key word. For my relatively competitive single keyword (1,350,000 results), most of the top ten sites have outbound links to relevant sites on their index pages.

steveb




msg:205438
 2:50 am on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Your outbound links can have a link structure just as your inbound links. In some cases this is important, in others it doesn't matter much. One specific, clearly good example... I have an established site with about as good PR for a links page as there is in my niche. Newish site comes and is dying for a link, and give me a link from their main page. I put them on the PR board but assuming this webmaster continues to pursue quality links, a link from that main page should be reasonably helpful in the long run to me -- or even briefly in the shortrun if I only get even a couple months of a very good link before being moved to a more lame links page.

By linking to that site that webmaster is now (slightly) working for *me* whenever pursuing links to that site.

This is a fairly extreme case where linking to a site with a highly motivated webmaster can bring me benefit via a "seeding" of PR, but there are other cases too where outside sites can be looked at as almost a part of your own link structure.

In other words, if I could roll back the clock and make a link exchange with Yahoo the day they came online...

mack




msg:205439
 2:59 am on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

PR is only a small part of a very complexed algo. I dont think outbound links will help increase your pr. But im pretty sure that other parts of the algo that will give sites with good quality "on topic" outward links a boost. we need to remember that it is not only page rank that gets you on top of the serps, although it sure helps.

buckworks




msg:205440
 4:06 am on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

What you might give away in page rank by linking to other pages will come back to you via other parts of the algorithm. The anchor text and description you give to the outgoing link will add spider food to your own page. Never be afraid to link out to other sites if you like them!

dhdweb




msg:205441
 3:04 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

being a hypocrite, I try and NOT give an outbound link unless it is absolutely essential.

Shakil,

remind me to never link to your site! ;)

troels nybo nielsen




msg:205442
 3:40 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

> remind me to never link to your site!

... meaning that a link to your own site would not be "absolutly essential"? ;)

MHes




msg:205443
 5:15 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Buckworks -
"The anchor text and description you give to the outgoing link will add spider food to your own page."

I'm not sure about this. In theory, if you are advising people to go to another site for <green widgets> then you are in effect saying that your site is not relevant for this item.... so google may follow your advise and list the other site in the serps above yours!

I suspect the algo only credits anchor text for the page it is pointing to, and not the page it is on.

europeforvisitors




msg:205444
 5:47 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

In theory, if you are advising people to go to another site for <green widgets> then you are in effect saying that your site is not relevant for this item....

You're not saying anything of the kind. You're just pointing to another resource.

I think Buckworks' comment that "The anchor text and description you give to the outgoing link will add spider food to your own page" makes a lot of sense. In the academic world, outbound links are often citations that provide supporting evidence for the page's content. It's hard to imagine that the Ph.D.'s at Google would turn their backs on years of academic conditioning by ruling that a citation was an admission of weakness. :-)

jimbeetle




msg:205445
 6:08 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

There was a study a few years back that examined individual sites integration into the overall web (can't find it now, of course). The authors categorized sites as something like "Well Integrated" thru "Totally Isolated." Their basic contention was that, given the nature of the web, a site that a reasonable number of incoming links as well as a reasonable number of outgoing links was a "good" site.

Would Google or other SEs want to see a site that only has incoming links and no outgoing? Would this be part of the algo? Who the heck knows.

And like anything else in this business -- it all depends. If you can closely control your selling environment (no or few outgoing links) and be successful then who can argue with that.

Does it help PR? I don't think a "More on Blue Widgets" link would have anything to do with PR but it might be an important factor in all that on-page criteria that we sometimes overlook in our race for more PR. After all, keywords are keywords, keywords in link text are keywords in linktext -- the page is somewhat relevant to "Blue Widgets."

Jim

europeforvisitors




msg:205446
 6:23 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Would Google or other SEs want to see a site that only has incoming links and no outgoing? Would this be part of the algo?

It certainly could be part of the "on-page factors" algorithm if Google's own studies have shown that sites with outbound links are more likely to be authorities on their topics than sites without such links.

And it's in Google's own interests to favor sites with outbound links, since Google's "unique selling proposition"--PageRank--is based on widespread linking.

BigDave




msg:205447
 7:03 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

And it's in Google's own interests to favor sites with outbound links, since Google's "unique selling proposition"--PageRank--is based on widespread linking.

I believe that this is the whole point here. Google would never encourage sites to take isolationist attitudes. They want you to link to other sites to feed the pagerank algorithm.

And to get back to the initial question, my links pages often show up high in the SERPs, above pages with higher PR.

Skier




msg:205448
 7:30 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Outbound links may have not improved my PR, but they have improved my site in many indirect ways and generated a lot of new traffic. All the links are carefully on-topic, and useful to visitors.

The site had almost no outbound links for about two years. I added a page of outbound links (which has grown to to many pages over the past month or so). The SE's like the pages and they get first or second page results for the most astonishing list of search terms. It's like a sheet of new suggested PPC keywords, but broader than Overture etc. Tracking visitor behavior, I see that a reasonable number of link page visitors do move deeper into the site and get exposed to our selling messages.

The outbound links have led to some valuable new business relationships for us in the category and related areas, generated valuable new inbound links, and given us a more dynamic view of how visitors behave.

It's a subtle thing, but my sense is that Google has treated our site better since we put the outbound links up.

troels nybo nielsen




msg:205449
 7:47 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Skier
You might consider the posibility of creating a genuine small web directory with carefully annotated links. You already have the beginning. That might be an important resource.

freejung




msg:205450
 8:38 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Another thing to consider is that having lots of outbound links is truer to the original spirit of the web. Way back when (and just because I'm a newbie on webmasterworld doesn't mean I'm a newbie on the web, I've been around since Mosaic was the only browser), people typically sprinkled their text librally with hyperlinks because that was what made the web cool. Sometimes you couldn't tell exactly what the link pointed to, but that was part of the fun of it. This is what hypertext was supposed to be about, it was like being able to add infinite amounts of footnotes to anything you said.

As for how this effects your standing with Google, I've noticed a certain reactionary stance at Google, a sense of trying to take the web back to the good old days when it was about having fun rather than making money (not that making money is a bad thing, mind). So I think that whether or not it helps your PR or even is in the algo now, you can probably expect it to matter at some point.

vmaster




msg:205451
 8:48 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

From my personal experience, placing a couple of outbound links to related sites, especially to high PR ones, certainly helps in boosting my ranking, if not the PR itself. For example, if you are selling widgets, it would be in your interest to link to widgets.org etc., which need not be a commercial site, but the ultimate authority on widgets!

Skier




msg:205452
 9:52 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the suggestion Troels. I'll have to look up the definition of a "genuine web directory". Not sure exactly what it would entail. Funny, I just started the links thing to amuse myself during the slow season.

Freejung, your observations about the "spirit" of the web are right on! I always return to that kind of thinking as a touchstone. Fads may come and go on the web, but fundementals will win out over the long haul.

Considerations such as unique quality content (as Europeforvistors always points out), good experience for the visitor, easy access to relevant information, no bull****, etc meet both the SE's objectives and the visitors. Any SE that does not reflect these values in its SERPs will surely fade away.

MHes




msg:205453
 10:01 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

europeforvisitors -
I take your point, I think if the link is on a page which is on a similar theme.... blue widgets, then both the page and the linked to site gets bonus points. If a link on a page is off theme, then I think the anchor text is ignored for the page it is on, but the linked to site gets the benefit of the anchor text phrase. In this way, the linking site will not be listed for an off theme topic, which makes sense.

troels nybo nielsen




msg:205454
 10:13 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Skier
The term "genuine web directory" may very well just be a product of my own lacking abilities to use the English language. :) What I was trying to suggest was that you expand your links pages to be your own very small and very specialized Yahoo. If you gain a high quality many webmasters will want to link to that directory.

Troels

Skier




msg:205455
 11:58 pm on Dec 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

Troels,

Your english was perfectly clear. It's been so long since I searched into Yahoo's directory I'd forgotten how it was structured. Now that I have looked, I see what you mean - if I keep expanding my links list, it would have to become organized like that.

On the other hand, getting a bit more SEO, I'd probably be better off if I built a full new page of "editorial content" around each link or group of links. Brett says, one new page every day..

Dante_Maure




msg:205456
 12:56 am on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

If a link on a page is off theme, then I think the anchor text is ignored for the page it is on

This is simply not true.

There are thousands upon thousands of pages returned in the SERPs for keywords that only appear in the anchor text of outbound links, whether on theme or not.

martinibuster




msg:205457
 8:24 am on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

Am I late to this party?

Just wanted to point out this interesting GoogleGuy quote that I picked up in another thread. In it he makes reference to a component of the algo, while addressing the topic of hoarding PR:
It's pretty easy to spot domains that are hoarding PageRank; that can be just another factor in scoring. If you work really hard to boost your authority-like score while trying to minimize your hub-like score...

He made a reference to an "authority-like" score then made reference to a "hub-like" score, wherein a web site is given points for being a hub.

There is a benefit to you, and the web in general, when linking out. It establishes you as an authority hub.

How much benefit is arguable, but it's a benefit.

Westmont




msg:205458
 1:41 pm on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

If my top keyword is "blue widgets", what about some outbound links to "blue things" and others to "red widgets" providing there is some relevance to these sites for the visitor? Also, if one were to be really stingy with outbound links, then one would only use them as reciprocity. Couldn't this be a red flag? I believe one should be frugal with outbound links, but you gotta/wanna do what makes sense in real world terms.

Skier




msg:205459
 6:34 pm on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

"There is a benefit to you, and the web in general, when linking out. It establishes you as an authority hub."

It just makes intuitive sense that authority hubs are needed by the entire structure, are more valuable, and thus should better survive changes in the SE's. Whether or not you get google brownie points, it makes your site more useful to all.

As freejung noted; "you can probably expect it to matter at some point".

The have been several threads worrying about having all their eggs in one google basket. It's a valid concern. All the more reason to ensure that their sites offer basic value to the web so that they would be included in whatever comes along next.

Yidaki




msg:205460
 6:42 pm on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hmmm ... you can have a great hub site without any outbound link that is readable by google. All my (couple of thousands) outbound links of my specialized directory are scripted (jump.cgi?id=123) and disallowed via robots.txt. I don't like to see my compilation getting stolen. This way i don't pass any pr, google doesn't see me as beeing a hub site but nevertheless my site is a great source for my visitors. So what? Who's wrong - me or google?

BigDave




msg:205461
 6:55 pm on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yidaki,

No one is wrong. Google just won't give you any credit for something that they don't recognize. You make your choice, they make theirs. You are doing it to be useful for your users that come to your site for other reasons. You obviously knew that you were hiding your links from google, so you should be happy that your plan is working.

Dave

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