|Can Too Many Outbound Links Confuse SE's|
I'm currently reviewing and updating several destination guides with pages that typically have upwards of 2000 words of unique content.
Because it is difficult to do justice to a major town or city in just a single page, I have always been generous with outbound links to on-topic authority sites and sites that supplement my contribution. eg.. links to the official tourism site, the city transport system, museums and art galleries, sports venues, local attractions, restaurant guides etc etc.
While I still think this approach is sound, I've begun to wonder if having too many outbound links (say 20 or more) on a 2000 word page might result in SE's getting a mixed message about the page's intent.
In other words, can too many outbound links (well intentioned or not) create mixed messages about page intent and impact on rankings?
Obviously I can only speculate based on my personal observations but:
Google (don't know about the other SEs, check your site in Bing) doesn't seem to be rewarding 'generosity' anymore, even when in the best interest our clients. I personally commend your actions, thinking and intention - it rings true to the original vibe of our internet.
In the past I believe it's what contributed to creating 'authority' to some degree, we saw that affect ourselves. Unlike our competition, we allowed valid links to flow to relevant competitors and businesses (we are a forum).
These days I would, under the current climate, strongly recommend you reconsider this strategy. Or at least, dial it down -> Re: 'sticking your neck out' in the 'Summary 2013' post.
You shouldn't allow possible flaws and deficiencies in Google's algorithm to cause you to make changes that lower the quality and value of your website.
I have found your many link approach to be very effective. While google seems to like it just fine, these pages rocket to the top when other groups link to them because they connect everything.
The local university linking to your page for things for alumni to do while visiting. A newspaper travel column that finds it easier to link to your page than try to list everything themselves.
Just a few links like this can lock you in a top spot for lots of local activities.
I dunno. My site that got hit with Penguin, it was clearly the pages with the most links that got hit. Treeline's experience suggests there are other factors in play. The obvious would be if I had linked to questionable sites, but I didn't - I linked to sites I thought my readers would trust and value, and screened out any which had too many ads, footer links, keyword stuffing, etc. I don't think it's anything that simple. There may be some formula - you can link our a lot if X, Y and Z are also in place, but if not, then the links will hurt you. That would be my guess, and it may be worth what you're paying for it. ;)
I've never had any problem with outbounds and have always linked quite generously to what I would consider good pages. And I have never heard or seen any evidence of good outbounds hurting a site.