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Choosing Effective Outbound Links For Your Blog

Since January 2011 when Google made its much feted Panda update, the subject of links on websites has been hotly debated amongst SEO analysts. When Matt Cutts announced the Penguin algorithm update1 he specifically mentioned that Google would be targeting unnatural links, further focusing the spotlight on the kinds of links that contribute to SEO and the links that will attract an over optimization penalty. The message isn’t that links are bad but rather that it is important to choose your links carefully so that they add value to your content and aren’t just tacked on to generate a good page rank.

Because most blogs rely on search engines for the greatest part of their traffic it is important to make sure that they are optimized for the crawlers when they visit. An important part of that optimization process is to make sure that there are enough of the right kinds of links to place your page well in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The links that are most under the microscope are the number of outbound links that pages use, as webmasters worry that too many links pointing out of a page not only give away their ‘link juice’ but also make pages look suspiciously like link farms to the crawlers. At the same time, it is important to have a good balance of inward bound and outward bound links to show that the page should be ranked among its peers in the SERPs.

Inward bound links point to specific pages on your website and every blogger should be happy to have another site point to their content as a reference as the crawlers will follow the link to look for a new source of valuable content. Sites that have a lot of inward bound links without any outward bound links look like they have bought their links and so they are viewed suspiciously by the search engines. This makes it important to include outward bound links in all of your content to show the crawlers that your page is an organic part of the overall network. However, too many outward bound links, or links to sites that don’t appear to be related to the source content, will also flag the crawlers’ suspicions and may hurt the page rank of the site.

The lesson here for bloggers is that making organic links with other sites will give your SEO a boost because they are exactly the kinds of links that Google is giving the highest value to. Of course, this has led to many bloggers being inundated by requests to post ping backs on their sites by marketers trying to get around Penguin’s harsh new evaluation of links that have been purchased. It is always tempting for a blogger to accept ping backs because of the potential for generating immediate traffic but, since the latest update, agreeing to too many may be counterproductive. The key is to examine the links and to choose only those links that add value to the content already on your site.

At times it can be difficult to determine which sites are offering genuinely valuable links but as a rule of thumb, if you would have included a link to a post on the site in one of your posts then it is probably worth considering their ping back request. Stick to sites that you like and that share things in common with your own site to be sure to create the organic links that Google is now looking for. For advice on effective linking contact to keep your blog ranking at its highest.


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