Matt McGee asks
My random SEO theory: Search engines (especially Google) will assign more value to sites/pages that continue to link out and provide them with this dying signal of quality.
Do you agree or disagree?
In truth, outbound linking has always been a good thing, but like a lot of Google algorithm inputs, its relative value fluctuates from time to time. I think Matt may be onto something here. For the past few years there has been a mad rush to gain inbound links and many webmasters have used some awfully tricky or spammy techniques in an effort to gain them. Even to the detriment of outbound links.
And many SEOs have even been preaching not to link out, but I believe that has just led to the degeneration of content. Linking out, if done correctly, will provide your site visitors with solid recognizable benefits. It brings in more traffic, more comments and more engaging site visitors.
Aaron Wall has written pretty heavy-handedly about this topic and there is good reason to believe that he may actually affect Google policy going forward. After all, Google doesn’t want a broken link graph any more than the rest of us.
Every couple of years Google creates a major change in its algorithm that turns the web upside down. The May Day update is an example of this. Many webmasters lost rankings while many more gained some. And all it did was reward websites with long tail keyword pages that weren’t doing so well despite some halfway decent SEO.
It is Google’s own policies that create the ups and downs of the Web’s economy. Outbound links were once considered a form of rewarding your site visitors with quality information about your niche. Then SEO best practices took over. Best practices came to mean seek out inbound links and ignore outbound links. I think some corrective action is in order to bring the outbound link value in line with the inbound link rat race. And it’s just a matter of time before Google figures that out as well.
But even if Google doesn’t figure it out, think of your visitors. What do they want? They really want you to be an expert source of information and you can’t be that if you horde all your content value for yourself. The only sure way to provide the best quality for your site visitors is to link out to resources that will help them. When you do that you help them, your link partners, yourself and the whole web community. It’s like being a good citizen. Everyone wins.