What Are Outbound Links and How Do They Impact Your Site’s Rankings?

By Srikanth
16 Min Read
What Are Outbound Links and How Do They Impact Your Site's Rankings? 1

We are used to the fact that references to external resources are indispensable when writing scientific papers, dissertations, essays, etc. But you can also use links when you compose content for your site. What is the purpose? It can help you enhance credibility, provide additional value to your visitors, and improve SEO. Reference and links to respectable sources demonstrate your content is well-researched and fact-based.


In this article, we talk about how to gain the trust of both users and search engines. If you want to have your site successful, profitable, and advanced in 2023, this is critical for you. We will tell you in detail about using outbound links, also known as external links. Why are they important? How do they affect the ranking of the site? How should you use them correctly? Let’s dive in.

To avoid confusion, let’s first look at the types of links you can use for your site. Globally, all links are divided into external and internal. External links are divided into incoming (inbound) and outgoing (outbound). You can use different types of links for your site to improve its ranking and increase its position in the search engine results.

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  • Internal links navigate from one page to another within the same website.
  • Inbound links (backlinks) come from an external website to your website.
  • Outbound links take you from your website to a different website.

To better understand the difference, let’s look at some examples. On your blog post about chocolate chip cookies, if you link to another post about the history of cookies on your site, that’s an internal link. If a food blogger mentions your recipe and links back to your website, that’s an inbound link for you. If you’re writing a blog post about the history of chocolate and you link to a renowned chocolatier’s website, that’s an outbound link.

Why should you use outbound links? What advantages do they provide to your website? First of all, by referencing other reputable websites and authoritative content, you can not only enhance the depth and credibility of your blog content but also establish a sense of trust with your audience. These links indicate thorough research and an intent to provide readers with comprehensive information. But there are more. Let’s look at the most significant benefits of using outbound links.

We consider outbound links one of the most effective white hat link-building techniques. At first glance, this statement may seem meaningless because it is not other resources that link to your site, but you link to other resources.

Imagine you own an e-commerce website specializing in organic products and frequently link to a blogger who reviews such products. Recognizing the mutual audience interest, the blogger might propose a collaborative product review or a guest post to foster backlinks.

How can you use outbound links to earn potential backlinks for a website?

  • Link to well-known experts or thought leaders. They might notice and appreciate the gesture.
  • Create comprehensive resource lists or compilation articles linking to valuable external content.
  • When conducting original research or studies, link to your sources.
  • Engage in content collaborations, linking to your collaborators’ websites.
  • Conduct expert roundups or interviews and link to the experts’ websites.
  • Participate in community discussions and link to relevant forum threads or blog posts.
  • Compile ‘best of’ or ‘top 10’ lists in your niche, linking out to the featured items or services.
  • When you draw inspiration from or reference another article, link to it.

Linking out to niche forums, discussions, or community posts can attract the attention of active community members. If they find your content valuable and relevant, they might link back to it in future discussions or posts.

By regularly linking to a particular site or expert, you create an implicit partnership. It might lead to direct collaborations like guest articles on reliable websites accepting guest posts, interviews, or joint research, which inherently involve mutual backlinking.

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Improved User Experience

Think about your readers first, then everything else. We believe that this is the approach that can lead your site to success. Outbound links provide additional avenues for readers to explore and learn. For example, a tech blog reviewing a gadget can link to the official product specifications page, enabling readers to delve deeper into its technical details.

Positive SEO Signal

Google prioritizes user experience and the value delivered to searchers or visitors on a website. In this context, Google appreciates the use of outbound links to demonstrate a commitment to enhancing user experience.

We know that you are interested in site promotion with links for SEO. So, outbound links provide some great effects in this case.

  • Bolstering the credibility of your content.
  • Increasing on-page time.
  • Establishing relationships with other entities in the digital space.
  • Leading to collaborations, guest posts, or even backlinks.
  • Indicating that the content is well-researched and comprehensive.

A site comparing different marketing strategies could link to case studies from HubSpot or Marketo, signaling thorough research to search engines. And one more example: if you are writing about cybersecurity and linking to notable cybersecurity firms or articles, it says to algorithms about the specific niche of your content.

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Enhanced Credibility

In today’s digital age, misinformation is rampant. When readers see that you are actively linking out to high-quality sources, it gives the impression that you’ve done your homework and are dedicated to providing accurate information. For example, if you’re writing about a trending topic like the benefits of a new health supplement, rather than just stating the facts, you could link to scientific journals or recognized health organizations that back your statements.

Outbound links show you are trying to avoid keeping the reader confined to your website. By willingly directing them to other sources, you exhibit transparency and foster trust. If discussing a controversial topic, linking to sources from multiple perspectives (e.g., both the pros and cons of a debated technology) showcases your neutrality and boosts your image as a balanced and credible information provider.

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Engagement and Reduced Bounce Rate

Sometimes, users land on your page expecting specific details, which, while related, might not be the core focus of your content. By offering outbound links, you cater to such visitors, guiding them to the exact information they seek.

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For example, a website selling baking equipment might have a page discussing a particular type of oven. Still, it can include outbound links to recipes or baking techniques that utilize that oven. This way, visitors looking for those recipes or techniques are satisfied. They are directed right where they need to go.

Relevance and Contextual Understanding

When a website links to authoritative and related external sources, it provides search engines with a clear context about the nature and niche of its content. Such links essentially act as content markers, helping algorithms discern the topic and depth of the information provided.

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Moreover, for readers, these links offer supplementary resources for deeper understanding, emphasizing the content’s foundation on thorough research and expertise.

Essentially, outbound links act as bridges, connecting dots in the vast online content landscape, thereby solidifying a website’s thematic coherence, domain authority, and search engine rankings.

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Keep in mind that to get positive results, you must use the outbound links correctly. What does it mean? If you lead your readers to commercial sites that sell prohibited goods, gaming sites, casinos, or similar, you risk losing the trust of both your visitors and search engines.

Utilizing outbound links effectively requires adherence to several best practices to ensure they benefit your site’s ranking and overall user experience. We have prepared for you a list of essential rules that you should follow when using outbound links on your website.

  • Link to relevant sites. It ensures that search engines and readers recognize the link’s value in enhancing understanding.
  • Link to trustworthy sources. Credible references enhance your content’s reliability, signaling to search engines that your page upholds quality standards.
  • Use descriptive anchor text. The clickable text should be contextually appropriate, giving readers and search engines a hint about the content of the linked page.
  • Steer clear of paid links: Buying links can lead to penalties from search engines. Always aim for organic, natural linking practices.
  • Monitor linked content. Over time, some links may become broken links or lead to outdated content. Keep your content fresh, and regularly check and update your links to ensure they remain functional and relevant.
  • Nofollow links when necessary. If you’re unsure about the credibility of a site or if the link is promotional, consider using the nofollow attribute. It tells search engine crawlers not to pass SEO value to the linked page.

And the last piece of advice. Prioritize quality, not quantity. While outbound links are beneficial, an excessive number can distract readers and may appear spammy to search engines. The optimal number of outbound links depends on the size of the text.

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Tracking outbound links is necessary to understand how users interact with your content and which external resources they find valuable. Of course, we don’t suggest you manually count links. It is time-consuming and inefficient. We will tell you about some practical and simple ways to track outbound links.

  • Semrush Backlink Analytics. This tool offers valuable data about link types, referring domains, and anchor text distribution.
  • Google Analytics. With a simple script addition to the links, this tool captures click events and provides insights on which external sites garner interest.
  • Google Tag Manager allows you to create tags for specific outbound links, offering a seamless way to monitor link clicks without manually coding each link.
  • RedTrack tracks outbound link clicks and provides data on the number of times a link was clicked, where the traffic came from, and the users’ location.
  • Bitly. Beyond its primary function as a URL shortener, Bitly provides analytics on link performance, letting you know how often your outbound links have been clicked.

By leveraging these tools or other backlink monitoring tools, website owners and marketers can obtain a clearer picture of user behavior, potential collaboration opportunities, and areas for content improvement.

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Furthermore, you can add UTM parameters to your outbound links. This tactic is especially effective for tracking campaign-specific links, providing details about the source, medium, and campaign name. If you’re using platforms like WordPress, numerous plugins are designed to automatically track outbound link clicks, integrating the data with your analytics platform.

Is it appropriate to use outbound links specifically for your website? Which sites are suitable for using outbound links? Our answer is everyone. Any site, regardless of subject matter, reach, or target audience, can benefit from implementing this tactic. However, there are categories of websites that are required to have outbound links. We are talking about them in more detail.

  • Informational blogs and websites. By integrating outbound links, they can direct users to source materials or complementary readings, enhancing the depth and credibility of their content.
  • E-commerce websites. Online retailers can link out to manufacturers, product reviews, or related accessories, offering shoppers a holistic view of products and potentially aiding the purchase decision.
  • Educational websites. Institutions or e-learning platforms can link to research papers, studies, scholarly articles, or external courses, offering students and educators a broader spectrum of learning resources.
  • Local business directories. These can link to the official websites or social media pages of listed businesses, providing visitors with direct access to more detailed information.
  • Review websites. Sites that offer product or service reviews can link out to official product pages, user reviews, or expert analyses, giving readers a full-picture understanding and supporting their claims.
  • Forums and community platforms. By allowing and encouraging outbound links in posts or comments, forums can facilitate knowledge-sharing and enhance user engagement.
  • News portals. Authority sites can utilize outbound links to reference sources, data, studies, or related articles, thereby ensuring their content is well-backed and fostering trust among readers.

In essence, almost any website can benefit from using outbound links. These links enhance content depth, foster trust, provide holistic views, and improve user experience, making them valuable assets in diverse online contexts.

Final Thoughts

Let’s sum everything up. In 2023, you should use outbound links. They are crucial in providing value to your audience by offering additional information and context. These links can enhance your site’s credibility, as referencing authority sources can establish trust among readers. From an SEO basics perspective, using relevant and high-quality outbound links can give Google Search a better understanding of your content’s context. However, excessive or spammy links can harm your site’s reputation and search engine optimization. Properly utilized, outbound links can be your SEO strategy that benefits both users and your site’s visibility in search engine results.

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