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External links as benefit for the linking page - yes or no?



8:10 am on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

There is a discussion between my co-worker and me on SEO using external links.

I routinely add one or two useful, interesting and "high quality" links to every article published online, just as recommended by Brett in his legendary 26 steps. Just like linking to an adult content page might make SEs penalize you, linking to a quality site earns you extra brownie points - at least this is what I think.

My colleague disagrees, but none of us can become very emotional on the issue since we both have to agree that there is little empirical data available to clarify this issue.

I have experienced high rankings for pages that have linked to universities - but these are single incidents and not very representative.

Do you know of any tests/studies/experiements that could finally shed light on this issue?


9:18 am on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well, why don't you test it? It is entirely under your control, so it is quite easy to prepare a controlled experiment of 2 pages with the same linking support, same type of content (not the same content, it can be mostly non-sense words to avoid duplicity problem) to prove/disprove the theory.


9:27 am on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

That is exactly what I suggested - although I would do two sets of 5 pages or so. I just thought that somebody might have done this test already.



9:48 am on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'm not quite sure testing is that easy - setting up 2 pages with different content is always going to affect the rankings differently anyway. Also, you won't be able to create the same URL and the same metas. Non-sensical words may go a way to overcome this but to what extent?

A couple of pages we have with very high quality external links do very well in the SERPS, and together with some good quality content has actually promoted good inbound linking to those pages specifically.

The way I see it, inbound linking has actually been promoted by our use of quality outbound links. It gives the page a much more authoritative look by associating it with big names, and depending on what you are talking about, it can make the page look much more independant and unbiased.

If you do carry out a test it would be really interesting to hear what the results are...


9:58 am on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Alright, let's design the test, then:

- Topic: Universities in Germany
- 10 articles on one uni each
- placed in the same directory
- linked equally from within the website
- 300 words each article
- 5 articles link to the official website and the local studen's union, 5 have only internal links (to pages within the website)

Would that be an appropriate setup? How would you measure the "success" of the two groups of pages?


10:01 am on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

IIRC the original algo suggested the link anchor text could reflect on both the linking and linked-to pages, so some benefit from keeping links relevant perhaps...


10:07 am on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

What does IIRC mean?


10:23 am on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Wouldn't it be better to simplify this slightly by having one page have an external link to a German university for example, and another page just mentioning the same university - using the same words - but just not hyperlinked. This would make the 2 scenarios as close as possible..

You'd still have to place the links / text in the same position on the page though..

It would be good to get more websites involved in this - and they can test using external links that are more relevant for their specific fields..


10:29 am on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

That's essentially what I tried to propose, only that I think a sample set of 5 pages would lead to more accurate results than a single article.

As I said above, I have seen a positive effect on individual pages already.


1:48 pm on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

What does IIRC mean?

"If I remember correctly" or "Ignorant Internet Ranking Consultants" depending on your viewpoint. Probably the former in this case ;) Actually on some research it can mean a lot of other things too:

If I read correctly
If I really cared
If it really counts

[edited by: Simsi at 1:54 pm (utc) on Dec. 18, 2007]


5:00 pm on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I saw where Google said one time (can't remember where the article was) that if a site owner is smart enough to recognize an authority on some subject then it helps both YOUR site and theirs...shows you know what you are doing and that's exactly what Google wants.


10:49 am on Dec 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Google always wants to give their users good and valuable information. Therefore they favour sites that helps the user finding the information they are requsting. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are these links that I add useful to the visitors of my site?
  • Does the information on these sites that I link to complement the topic of the article/page on my site?

The outbound links defines the topic of your site. In contrast to inbound links, you as the site owner has full control of where these links are pointing. By carefully linking to complementary and interesting information you are helping your visitors and you are helping Google understand the topic of your site.


11:20 am on Dec 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Good points, and welcome to the forum Aczion :-)


10:29 am on Dec 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Here's the bit from the original algo which suggests the link anchor text can count for both pages....

2.2 Anchor Text

Most search engines associate the text of a link with the page that the link is on. In addition, we associate it with the page the link points to.



12:01 am on Dec 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Well, it must do something otherwise all these junk sites that are 99% directories (links) are wasting their time.

I'd be surprised though if the link juice value for linking out is more than minimal. Anyone can do it. It's not "unique content."

What is the value to users of the link? If it's a good site, they can find it in Google.

The problem with linking out is the target sites could turn into bad neighborhoods (with the domain not re-reg'd); then you have Google penalties for endorsing "evil."

The page position of external links seems to be more important now. Within main text is probably better than end-of-page links which Google can interpret as bad link exchanges/the old footer links problem.



11:20 am on Dec 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think you should only link from an article when you feel that the article is related to the page where you are sending traffic..


12:12 pm on Dec 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"If it's a good site, they can find it in Google."

It'll probably be in G but there's no guarantee they'll find it, which is where an "editorial vote" can be valuable :-)

For example, I'm looking to link to specific topic pages from industry experts and often have to go down to page three to find them, someone unfamiliar with the industry would probably not bother....


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