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How Does It Work? The Nature of an Outbound Link | Website Office
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How Does It Work? The Nature of an Outbound Link

June 2, 2008

A concept, of debatable importance, that is useful to understand when working on Search Engine Optimization is outbound links. The Internet is a tangled web of links, pointing a user in various directions. Understanding the value and importance of outbound links is extremely useful when you are seeking to make your site both more accessible and more useful to your clients.

So, what’s the big deal? Search engines index and determine the ranking of a page using crawlers, or bots, tasks set up to scan pages and download the non-graphic HTML content from a page. When these crawlers examine a page, they follow the links that are on the page and examine the relationship between the followed link and the website. The more relevant the content of the link is, the better the ranking of the site.

The number and quality of the outbound links is of great importance. While it may seem that the more outbound links, the better, this is not always the case. What is more important when creating outbound links is the quality of the site that is linked. Fewer high-quality links are much more valuable than numerous low-quality links.

There are several items to consider when determining the quality of a link. First, links that have been in existence longer are more likely to have good standing with search engines and are therefore looked upon with more favor. Of course, a link that has existed but has little credibility will not be useful so it is important to know the nature of the link and its longstanding credibility.

Another thing that is important in determining the credibility of a link is the domain name extension. Links with extensions such as .gov, .edu, and .org are considered more reliable because of the nature of their content. Further, links with these extensions have more authority in respect to their content.
In opposition to the credible domain name extensions, links with .info and .biz carry less credibility. A link with one of these extensions therefore carries less weight when determining the credibility of a site.

It is important to recognize, however, that care must be taken with links, as the use of too many will be overlooked and can be recognized as an attempt to build search engine credibility rather than assist a client. In addition to all of this information, there also exists a way to indicate to a crawler not to follow a link. Not too surprisingly, this is called a “nofollow” and is treated differently by different search engines. While some will still follow the link and only index the site if it has previously been indexed, others do not follow the link at all.

Links are the skeletal system of the web, without them, it cannot stand. By using quality links on your site, you can increase its credibility and usefulness. Of even greater importance to your site, however, are inbound links. Links that point to your site, more firmly establish your site’s credibility to someone on the outside. I will treat this topic, however, at a later time.

Written By: James Blackburn, Website Office Staff Writer

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