When most SEO companies/experts/guides talk about link building, they are referring to the ongoing practice of developing links on 3rd party sites that point back towards your site. The goal is to create as many quality, diverse inbound links as possible to boost your trust factor in the eyes of the search engines. But off-site link building isn’t the only thing a site owner should be thinking about when they start their SEO campaign. You also have to decide on what kind of outbound links you want to create. Some SEO professionals recommend keeping outbound links to a minimum to maintain site integrity; others say it’s a great way to build relationships with other sites.
Here are a few of the pros and cons of outbound link building:
Pro: Gets your site connected
It’s called the “Web” for a reason. By linking to other sites, especially if you site is brand new, you are helping solidify your position in that web. No site can survive on its own. The entire structure of the Internet is based on inter-connectivity. Having a few outbound links to reputable, related sites helps tie you in.
Con: You can’t control other sites
When you link to another site, you are passing some of your site’s trust factor along to them via link juice. Essentially, you are putting your stamp of approval on that site. The problem is that you have zero control over what that site does with its own Internet marketing. If that site owner decides to engage in black hat SEO, you can’t stop them. All you can do is to delete your outbound link before any penalties that other site may incur ripple back and affect you.
Pro: Builds relationships
Everyone is looking for a great link opportunity. By creating outbound links from your sites to other related, reputable sites, you taking the first step in building a rapport with that site owner. While link exchanges (I give you a link and you give me one) between two unrelated sites is black hat in the eyes of the search engines, linking between two similar sites is expected and acceptable.
Con: Might lose traffic
Every outbound link on your site should be treated like a giant Exit sign. Any visitor to your site could potentially leave your site through one of those links and not come back. Even if you are linking to other sites that your traffic might find useful, you don’t want to encourage them to leave. Chances are your site lives and dies by how well it converts traffic. It’s pretty hard to convert someone after they leave.