Should I Link To Other Websites?

Brendan Egan

Should I Link To Other Websites?

This is a question that I’m shocked I haven’t answered yet in the blog because I get asked it all the time.  You own a website, a forum, or a blog and don’t know the benefits and drawbacks of linking to other websites.  This post will answer that exact question and give a few SEO tips along the way.
In short, when someone asks “Should I Link To Other Websites From My Site?” the answer is yes!
The internet is really all about creating links and interconnecting one website to another.  First off if no one linked then the internet would be a pretty boring place.  Sites like Pintrest, Facebook, and others are all about sharing links and sharing websites with one another.

I Heard That Links Are Bad

Yes and no.  Some people think that their web page has a certain amount of “link juice” from other websites linking to it, and this is true.  But at the same time, you don’t lose that link juice by sending a link to another website.  For example just the other day I wrote a blog post that mentioned Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, and I linked to his website.  My blog post still ranks quite well and didn’t lose any “link juice”.
Now there are some situations where links can be bad.  If you’re participating in a link exchange on a large scale then your links could hurt your site’s rankings.  Likewise if you’re linking to questionable websites, such as link farms, sites that are banned from search engines, or sites that are known as spam sites, then the link could be a bad thing.  You don’t necessarily have to investigate EVERY link, but do be mindful of who you are linking to.

Do Links Have An Impact On Search Rankings?

I believe they do, but not in the way you’re thinking.  People often think that links on a page will lower your rankings because you’re losing that “link juice”, yet I think the opposite.  I believe you’ll actually rank better if you link to relevant sites related to the topic of your webpage.  For example if I write a blog post about “What SEO Is” and I link to 3 other sites offering another viewpoint on what SEO is, I think my page should rank higher because it’s a great resource in and of itself but it also gives 3 additional great resources.  Now this may not be the case, but often times when I put together a great article and link to related articles I notice that article ranking better.  Could be a coincidence, but I don’t think it is.
Now let’s look at the flip side; if you have a blog post that is getting spammed with comments and you have over 100 links in your comment section, then yes I think that could hurt your page and rankings depending on where those links are pointing.  In general I don’t like to link out more than once for every 150 words of text on the page, so I try to make sure I only approve comments that offer substantial value to the article and provide a good amount of text.

Won’t I Lose Web Traffic With Links?

Yes you will.  As a general marketing practice, links should be used sparingly.  You work hard to get website visitors, and the last thing you want is for them to find your website and then leave to visit another website.  To battle this, I often use the target blank HTML code when linking to outside websites.   Whenever you write a standard link, let’s say we’re linking to Google, it would look like this:
<a href=””>Google</a>
When you use the target blank attribute, you’re telling your browser to open that link in a new window, which means your website stays open and the visitor is more likely to return to your site after they visit the 3rd party site.  A link in a new window looks like this:
<a href=”” target=”_blank”>Google</a>

In Summary…

In summary, yes you should link, especially where relevant, but be careful who you link to and how many links you have on a page.  It’s my belief that linking is a good thing, but only when done properly and with proper diligence.