What is an outbound link?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - outbound links

The term ‘outbound link’ refers to a link which is meant to take you elsewhere. Outbound links are links which are going to take you to alternative webpage or website. Most, if not all, websites include outbound links.

There are two kinds of outbound links. These are nofollow and dofollow links:

  • The dofollow link is a normal link. This type of link is a default link. It is not necessary to add to the code or to change anything. Just insert a link into your website and it’s automatically a dofollow link. A dofollow link is what every link should be like. The is because it passes on Google’s PageRank juice from your webpage to a targeted webpage.
  • A nofollow link is an abnormal link. It does not pass on any of Google’s PageRank juice to the targeted webpage but, instead, it blocks off the Google PageRank flow. A nofollow link has a rel=”nofollow” tag inside the code. This tag tells the Google spider ‘not to follow’ the link.

Nofollow Links Are Valuable

As we said in the previous paragraph, nofollow links do not pass on PageRank. This means that using a nofollow link means that link will not pass PageRank to another page. On the one hand, Google cannot penalise you for linking to a site which is known to be a low-quality site. They also can’t penalise you for linking out too much. If you make use of a nofollow link this means that a link from your website bears no value to other websites, which means that is not likely that they will include you in announcements of new products or, alternatively, exciting developments. This is unless you already have a large user base and are on point with your digital marketing.

Many of the largest websites (such as CNN and the NFL) now place nofollow on all of their outbound links. This has the result that a link on their website has no PageRank value. However, links that come from these websites still have a high value owing to the quality as well as the size of their user base. Even a nofollow link has value as it gives potential visitors the chance to visit your website and expands awareness. Even a mention on a website without a link is valuable for increasing awareness.

When to use nofollow links

There are several ways in which you should be using nofollow links. Here are some of them:

Links in Comments or, alternatively, on Forums

Anything that has user-generated content has the expectation of being a source of spam. Even if you carefully moderate it, things may possibly slip through.

Links in Press Releases

These types of links have just been over-used and abused too many times. This means that most press release sites now use nofollow all links by default anyway.

Advertisements and Sponsored Links

Any links which are meant to be advertisements, or are part of a sponsorship arrangement,  must be nofollowed. This includes sponsored content, text and image advertising, and run-of-site links.

Paid Links

If you charge in any way for a link (directory submission, quality assessment, reviews, etc.), apply nofollow criteria to the outbound links.

When to use follow links

There are several instances in which you should use follow links. Here are some of them:

Bylines of Authors for Guest Posts

This is only true if your guest poster is someone you have checked, who posts often on your website, and whose website is one that you trust. Even then, only let your authors include a single link. In addition, only allow their anchor text to be their own name or their company name.

Links to Interviewees

If you are talking to a celebrity, or a subject matter expert, it’s OK to link to that person’s website. However, only use the anchor text (the linkable text) of their name or their company name just to be safe. Providing a link in exchange for your interviewees’ time is the least you can do. In addition, it will assist you with score interviews with other important people in the future.

How do you choose between a dofollow and nofollow link? Be as natural as possible. If you want to link to the site and feel no pressure or obligation to do so, go ahead. If you’re getting money in exchange or you don’t think the site deserves the follow-able link, make it nofollow.

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