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I have however spent the weekend argueing that quality outbound links are also important for the same reason. Can someone out there please have some input here as I'm starting to doubt my own sanity!
1. They show you are participating in the web. In other words, you are not just taking but giving as well. From what I can tell I think Google at least, likes this.
2. You can use what keywords you feel are important and work for you, in the anchor text. There have been other discussions that cover this.
3. You can use these outbound links to point to pages that also link to you. A nice way of reminding the spiders that you certainly do exist.
4. Create authority in your site. The quality and quantity of both inbound and outbound links are counted.
Other discussions that could lend support to this discussion include:
Outbound vs. Inbound Links [webmasterworld.com]
Link-Swapping & Theme Dilution [webmasterworld.com]
Page Rank -- it's not Hubs and Authorities? [webmasterworld.com]
Efficient Crawling Through URL Ordering [webmasterworld.com]
Linking to Directory Listings [webmasterworld.com]
Iím sure there are more discussions available but this is what I could find quickly. I see by reading through these that there is definitely room for more discussion on this subject, so thank you billy_fullerton for starting this one.
What I do in developing a site is work fist on my inbound links through the directories and then vortals and portals. Along the way I often find linking opportunities with similar themes and approach them. As these develop I add the reciprocal links to my link page and when the vortals list my site I add links pointing to that particular page (if not dynamic).
Money going into the Web is great, but it was driven by people with little experience in the way the Internet and the Web works.. hence to some extent the crash.. you cant force linking easily, it needs to evolve.
Googles greatest contribution was moving SE indexing from almost totally focusing on text analysis to linking patterns, and has extended it to take into account a multitude of factors such as text analysis, ext/int links, page and site structure, and hopefully soon updating patterns and recency. AV helped too early in using "themes"
Early on the dot com rise was based largely on carving out your own empire,, dominating keywords, exposure and such, and that domain names could buy you exclusivity. Valuations were way out of proportion because people thought in traditional publiching terms. Tt worked for a while but not for long.
SE's to best reflect the best content of the Web must reward:
Related on topic links from credible niche sites
Related on topic links to credible niche sites
Frequently updated content
That rewards sites using the Web to its best advantage. Link farms, web rings, and long link pages which only exist for increasing exposure, hidden text to other sites, are attempts to circumvent this process. it is up to the Se's to filter this out, and they are inevitably getiing there..
It is bad news for those who only publish advertorial, affiliate based sites, and advert pages.
To me a site with no external links is an island and a boring end of the road, it usually indicates a billboard, and a pre-Web publishing orientation.
What is happening now is people and Se's are far more savvy on why the Web is different from traditional media and how it can be best explited both for communication and commerce.