What is OBL in SEO (Outbound Link)?

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INTRODUCTION

Everything over the internet is connected with the help of Links. On the website, you connect pages with links. You also connect one website with another with the help of links. So let’s travel the world of links, specially Outbound Links (OBL).

The Internet is full of links. Each time you visit a website, you can see a variety of links. Some are naked and some are with anchor text. When you click on those links, each one of them takes you to a different web page or website. A link that takes you out of the website you visited is called an OBL or Outbound link. Not all but most of the websites have outbound links.

Before we discuss outbound links, we need to understand some technical terms that will help you to understand the basics of outbound links.

WHAT ARE LINKS ?

A link is a source of data or information, in the form of clickable text that users can follow by clicking on it. A link is created by using a special tag <a>, called an anchor.

HOW TO CREATE A LINK ?

You can create a link by using anchor tag <a> that will look like this:

<a href=”https://optmistic.com/what-is-obl-in-seo-outbound-link/”> What is OBL in SEO </a>.

This link-creating code tells the crawler a few things. First, the letter “a” specifies the crawler that this will be a link, and the linked area will end with “/a”. The “href” always preludes the targeted page. The URL in quotation marks specifies what that page is. Finally, the text between the “a” and “/a” tags is the anchor text or the linked area.

You will get the following result from this example that would look like this: What is OBL in SEO

Creating a link is simple. However, the target page and anchor text are factors for SEO and can impact your ranking. 

WHAT IS AN ANCHOR TEXT ?

An anchor text is used to describe a link that generally uses keyphrases or keywords of the targeted web page. These are often underlined and highlighted (often in blue or in a color that is generally different from the surrounding text). A good anchor text from another website should support your keyword. A link with the right anchor text helps search engines to understand the keywords of your webpage. It helps search engines to categorize them correctly so that they can rank the website for relevant search queries. 

WHAT IS LINK JUICE?

Link juice is a term used in the SEO world to describe and measure the power of a backlink that passes onto another site and therefore strengthens it. The more link there are on the site, the less link juice pass on per link. 

So far we discussed and understood links and Anchor text, now let us discuss outbound links and why it is important. And after reading this post you can easily answer “What is OBL in SEO“. I would like to explain three terms here before we move forward with the article:

WHAT IS AN OUTBOUND LINK ?

An outbound link, also known as an external link, is a link that takes the user to a different website or different domain name. An outbound link for your website works as an inbound link for another website. If a link takes the user to another page of the same website, it is called an internal link.

WHAT IS AN INBOUND LINK ?

An inbound link, also known as a backlink, is a hyperlink on a third-party website that redirects readers to your website. These links are essential for SEO. Search engines consider these inbound links as an indication that the content on the linked website is useful and valuable.

WHAT IS INTERNAL LINKING ?

An internal link is any link from one page of your website to another page of the same website. Users navigate through links to find useful and valuable content on a particular website. Search engines also use links to navigate your site and they won’t see any pages if there is no link to it.

Many of us are aware that internal links and inbound links are a must for the Technical SEO of any website.  They help to link the relevant content with each other resulting in visitors on the website and increased Dwell Time to your site and increase visibility as well. However, we rarely get recommendations to optimize outbound links.

TYPES OF OUTBOUND LINKS

There are basically two types of outbound links:

  • Do follow links – Any link that you use on your web page is by default a do-follow link. You do not need to code it or you do not have to change anything. You just link and this is automatically a do-follow link. Search engines follow these links while crawling your site. Through these channels – site to site via a link, Google goes through to ultimately decide the ranking of the website. Do follow link gives credit to that website where your website redirects readers. It is ethical and fair to give credit to those websites where credit is due. This way you grant another site credibility and authority by linking to them.
  • No follow links – A no follow link is an abnormal link. You can use these links with a rel=“nofollow” tag, which tells search engines not to follow them. It means that search engines will not recognize the website where the link redirects users. Hence the linked website will not get the benefit of having an inbound link. Thus these links do not pass on any Google PageRank juice to the targeted web page instead No follow links blocks off the Google PageRank flow.
So, dofollow links pass ranking power and nofollow don’t.

In September 2019 Google announced two new types of links: The “sponsored” attribute and the “UGC” attribute (UGC stands for “user-generated content”). Just like the original nofollow attribute, these two new attributes will also tell Google not to parse the PageRank. However, these two new attributes will give a “hint” to Google about the link’s overall use and intent.

  • Sponsored Link Attribute – With this attribute, it is now possible to label links as sponsored. Sponsored link attribute is used to identify the link which is specifically the result of paid placement. 

The HTML markup for sponsored attribute looks like:

<a href=”https://www.example.com” rel=”sponsored”>example link</a>

  • UGC Attribute – This attribute is used to identify the links created by users and therefore are not trusted or endorsed by the page’s author (e.g., author links in a comment form). 

The HTML markup for the UGC attribute looks like: 

<a href=”https://www.example.com” rel=”ugc”>example link/a>

WHY ARE OUTBOUND LINKS IMPORTANT ?

People and search engines discover useful content by following outbound links. When Googlebot crawls a page, it does not consider only the quality of your content but also considers the way you have linked to other pages within your site and to other sites on the web. Outbound links are not the first thing that most SEOs consider while auditing their site and planning successful strategies, but there are reasons why OBL should receive more attention.

Outbound links help in improving organic traffic, building trust, and even helping in establishing relationships with other businesses. We have discussed the importance of outbound links below:

  • Outbound links improve SEO – Given the nature of search engine optimization, as it has evolved, outbound links play a vital role in ranking. A recent study conducted by marketing firm Reboot showed a positive correlation between outbound links on a page and its rankings in search results. Search engines, Google, in particular, focus on the quality of outbound links, and this influences the ranking of a particular website. This is the reason why the outbound links metric becomes significant for webmasters and SEO professionals. It’s not hard to imagine how the external links from your content can strengthen the topic signal to Google. If all other factors are equal, a page having links that redirect readers to relevant and trustworthy content performs better than other websites with no external link.
  • Outbound links build trust in your content – Nowadays readers look for signals that your information is authentic and trustworthy. Websites use outbound links to support the authenticity of the content or information by showing the outside evidence. Additionally, it also shows to Google and readers that the content on the website is well researched on that specific topic and is not based on someone’s own opinion. This way, outbound links build users’ trust in your content.
  • Outbound links build relationships – Building relationships and goodwill can help you in many ways. If you regularly link to credible and quality sites, they will most likely observe you positively. So when you create some content that has value to their readers, they are also more likely to link back to your site too. So if you put a thoughtful external link in your content, the site owner may be likely to promote your link to their post too.

BEST PRACTICES FOR OUTBOUND LINKS

There is no strict rule to use outbound links but you can follow some outbound linking tips that will help you to get the most out of your SEO strategy.

  • Consider Where You are Linking Out To – Do not just link out for the sake of doing so. You can use outbound links either to cite your sources or to allow users to navigate the site that you refer to through links. Be careful while linking outsources and make sure you are linking out a relevant and reliable source. If you do not trust the site you are linking to, it’s better not to link. 
  • Use descriptive anchor text – While creating outbound links you should use descriptive keywords in your anchor text. Do not use the same keyword again and again to avoid the risk of triggering spam protectors. 
  • Link naturally – Only link out when it makes sense to do it. Your link should not only look natural but it should be natural. Think of your readers first and add the relevant and useful link wherever it is required. 
  • Use “nofollow” and “follow” appropriately – Use follow and nofollow links carefully. Try to add a ‘nofollow’ link wherever required. For example, you can use nofollow links to your comments section to avoid people from spamming and adding irrelevant links there.

If you use outbound links carefully, you will get a positive outcome and if you do not add it wisely, then either you won’t get any benefit or you might be penalized by losing your rank. 

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHILE USING OUTBOUND LINKS

Google SEO practice requires website owners to use outbound links as it is an important factor that influences the ranking of your website but tries not to overuse them. Google might penalize you for using too many outbound links as it can be seen as a gimmick to increase the page view and ad revenue. A page having an OBL (collectively internal linking or outbound) less than 33 is considered good by SEO experts.

If your content has no outbound links, try to add some by looking closely at your content. When you add outbound links, make sure that they are linking to credible sources and relevant as well. Whenever you add outbound links to your website, make sure that you are not linking to any spammy website. Linking to low-quality and irrelevant websites will decrease your credibility. Also, search engines review websites that you link to understand what industry you are in. So if you link to non-relevant websites or web pages, then your website might be incorrectly categorized; this, in turn, decreases your search ranking for the relevant search queries that you should have ranked for.

CONCLUSION

Outbound links help search engines to know what other sites your content relates to, thus helping Google figure out how your content relates to the larger question of what topic you’re covering on a web page.

If you are not already thinking about using outbound links in your content, you should be.

Optimizing outbound links is one of the link-building tactics where the industry is divided; some consider it as essential while others do not. Whatever people believe, we should pay attention to how to use outbound links.

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