Search engine optimization is a process with a lot of moving parts. Different elements of an SEO campaign affect one another, while each one requires its own maintenance.
Before you begin to set different pieces of your SEO campaign in motion, it’s essential that you understand what they are and why you’re using them. There are over 200 ranking factors used in search engine algorithms.
It would be impossible to account for each one, which is why most SEOs focus on what they know to be the most important factors. Keywords and content creation are two that typically stand out.
Another essential piece of SEO is the presence of outbound links. We’re going to cover these links, explaining what they are, why they’re important, and how you can optimize for them.
Understanding Outbound Links
In order to understand outbound links and why they’re valuable, it’s important that you know some foundational SEO. We’ll do a brief overview of where links fit into your search rankings.
Indexing, Links, And Rankings
When search engines begin to catalog the sites on the web, they do so by following links from one page to another.
Things called “crawlers” move about the web, cataloging relevant information about each site. This is the process that gathers all of the data used to rank sites against relevant keywords. When one site is cataloged, the crawler moves to another site through a link.
The description above is oversimplified. There aren’t conscious beings moving through the web, sucking up information and sending it back to the mother-search engine. That said, you can use that image as a pretty accurate analogy.
The important thing to keep in mind is that links are an essential piece through which crawlers gather information.
The Value Of Links
Think about the intention of search engines for a second. These are sites that aim to provide the most relevant and useful information to their users. If one search engine’s results begin to get less relevant to keyword searches, users will begin migrating to other search engines.
In order to find what users think is valuable, they take metrics that clearly align user activity. Google business reviews, for example, are a really important factor in search rankings. Additionally, Google’s AI has the ability to look through comments for context clues as they relate to peoples’ feelings toward businesses.
Links are another huge piece of this. Links form a sort of web of niches. Sites within one niche are likely to link to one another in and form a nexus of information.
Sites that get linked to more heavily are ones, we can assume, that are more objectively valuable to users and sites in that niche. You can think of links as votes in the democracy of search rankings.
The Linking Democracy
One link to a particular site can be thought of as a vote in favor of that site’s search ranking. As most democracies are, this one is imperfect. Links from sites that are more popular and powerful will give you more value than ones from smaller sites.
Ford, for example, sends out more valuable links than your local auto dealer. There are two kinds of links to think about: inbound and outbound links.
Inbound links are ones that are directed from other sites to your site. They are a nod of respect from that site to yours, and they are very valuable.
There are a number of means used to acquire inbound links. Something called “guest posting” is common. This is the process of offering to write a blog post or article for another site in exchange for the opportunity to include a link back to your own site.
You can also reach out to websites that you feel could use your links. If you have an article describing the inside of a carburetor, for example, you might want to reach out to an auto site that might be lacking that information.
Sites begin to gain more natural inbound links as they get more popular. In other words, you won’t need to try to acquire these links when you have more natural traffic, because others will simply find you online and link to you here and there.
Outbound links are links from your site to other sites. While they aren’t a direct measure of how others feel about your site, they help to situate you in the context of a niche.
Outbound links, just as inbound links, are considered when the search engine is ranking your site. You should try to include outbound links in your content whenever relevant. Even if no linking opportunities come to mind as you’re creating content, comb through the writing after it’s finished and look for opportunities to link.
Additionally, you should be sure to link naturally. Don’t go out of your way to link in ways that aren’t natural to the writing. Artificial intelligence is surprisingly clever and feels out writing that’s natural versus writing that isn’t.
Sites You Should Link To
The process of outbound linking is a difficult one as well. While it may seem like something you can do mindlessly, this isn’t the case.
First and foremost, you want to make sure that you aren’t linking to sites that are competing for the same keywords as you. More specifically, don’t link to pages that are optimized for the same keywords that your site optimizes for.
Further, you should try to get situated in a network of powerful and relevant sites in your niche. So, while your friend might have a great interior design site that could use inbound links, it might not be the best idea to link to that site.
Instead, link to sites that provide the most value to your content. These are typical links to sites that are well-established and high-ranking.
Want To Learn More About Linking?
Cultivating a good network of inbound and outbound links is an integral piece of good SEO. It’s important that you know what you’re doing.
Visit our site to get more information about linking in general, as well as tips on using links to rank highly.