We know inbound links are essential to SEO, but what about outbound links from my site? Do they help? Do they hurt?
The simple answer, direct from Google, is “no” they don’t hurt your rankings. In most cases.
Outbound links help you to build relationships with your users and with other webmasters. By linking to quality websites with relevant content you can give visitors extra information, establish trust in your content and possibly even gain links from the sites you link to.
But, and it’s a big but, this doesn’t apply to all outbound links. Google doesn’t like comment spam, and they don’t like undisclosed paid links. Quite frankly, your users probably don’t like them that much either.
Both can be dealt with though. There are a number of techniques you can use to reduce comment spam. Moderating the comments on your site, adding the “no follow” tag to links in comments or asking for verification in your comment form can all help.
Google has this to say about paid outbound links: “Google does consider it a violation of our quality guidelines to sell links that affect search engines.”
If you are being paid to include undisclosed outbound text links, you are breaking the rules. And you will be penalised. If you are in the habit of selling links you must use the “no follow” tag in your link, or redirect to an intermediate page that is blocked by a robots.txt file to stay in Google’s good books.
As long as you link to suitable sites when it’s appropriate – any more than 100 links on a page will cause concern – you don’t need to worry. Outbound links appear on every good website, and including them on yours will just build your credibility.
If you want to find out more read Google’s post on outbound links.