Do outbound links matter for SEO?

In our plugin, we have a check for outbound links. Is there an outbound link on your post or page? And in case there isn’t one, please add an outbound link to your content! Why do we insist on adding a link like that? Isn’t it true that you should get links to your website, and to your website only? Well… Not per se.

What are outbound links?

There are a gazillion types of links. The most common ones are these, I think:

  • Internal links from one page on your website to another page on your website. They can help optimize your site for search engines, we have an internal links tool for that. And with our site structure course you can learn how to do your internal linking well.
  • And then, there are two types of external links:
    • Links from other websites to yours. We call these inbound links or backlinks.
    • Links from your website to another website. Outbound links, indeed.

Outbound links in Yoast SEO

In the meta box below your Edit post screen, you’ll find the section called “Improvements”. If not, please update our plugin as you’re using a very old version. “Very old” is pretty relative in terms of internet years, right? In that section “Improvements”, there’s this one check that says:

outbound links in Yoast SEO

Consider adding some as appropriate. We really feel that every page should have an outbound link. We’re not throwing a red bullet here. We’re not forcing you to add that one to your post. But we would really like you to.

Why we want you to add outbound links to your post

You must wonder by now why we want you to add that link anyway. Our mission is SEO for Everyone. We strongly believe in equal chances for everyone on a connected web. By asking you to add that outbound link, we ask you to connect your website to the next website. And that website to the next website. By doing so, we create a web that expands and expands, from one related website to another. We help Google to connect the dots. We help Bing to get insights on what sites or better what pages relate to each other.

By connecting the web, and structuring the web with your help, we help search engines find interesting websites. We help interesting websites rank in Google. With your help. SEO for Everyone.

So.. do outbound links matter for SEO?

Outbound links most definitely matter for SEO. Not per se for your SEO, but for SEO in the most generic way there is. Your outbound link helps your neighbor, your supplier, your customer and of course, your visitor. So we strongly believe there is a good reason we have a check for them in our Yoast SEO plugin!

Read more: Link building from a holistic SEO perspective »

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27 Responses to Do outbound links matter for SEO?

  1. Rewari
    Rewari  • 10 months ago

    I always ingnored the importance of outbound links
    Nice tips. Will consider all these points you’ve mentioned from now onwards

  2. Karl Hindle
    Karl Hindle  • 10 months ago

    Hi Michiel-
    I remember the ReBoot study on this, and I think Rand Fish at Moz did something earlier which Reboot confirmed, that it was good for SEO, and not just the generic touchy-feely user kindness.

    I think the open questions were whether linking out to an authoritative site was more beneficial than linking to one that was not., and when is outbound linking too much.

    Any insight on that?


    • Michiel Heijmans

      I can’t see how linking an authoritative site would benefit you more than any other website. The other way around would make more sense. I can see how a link from an authoritative site would drive more (social) traffic to your site and how that would help your site, but that’s about links to your site, not from your site.

  3. Digember
    Digember  • 10 months ago

    Your last statement is totally correct – outbound links matters for SEO in a generic way. To all the webmasters who own a website, if you don’t link back to an external website, then it won’t gonna cause you any SEO problem or effect. It’s all up to you if you want to give an external link or not. Your external is important, if it takes user to learn more about something related to you’re writing.

  4. Basit Ansari
    Basit Ansari  • 10 months ago

    Amazing article for outbound links and it is really helpful.

  5. Keerthan
    Keerthan  • 10 months ago

    Hi Michiel,
    Thanks a lot for this informative post, as per my experience the post which has outbound links tend to rank higher than posts without outbound links.

  6. nexvan
    nexvan  • 10 months ago

    What does Nofollow noopener mean in the output link?

  7. nexvan
    nexvan  • 10 months ago

    The output link should be nofollow or is it better to follow?

    • Alessia Martalò
      Alessia Martalò  • 10 months ago

      it depends. Put it in nofollow only if it’s a commercial link or a promotional guest post.

      • nexvan
        nexvan  • 10 months ago

        Hi Alessia Martalò Thank

  8. Tarek Dinaji
    Tarek Dinaji  • 10 months ago

    You need outbound links to help your visitor verify and justify the information you share. But fearful of getting penalized people started to nofollow all of their outbound links.

    It is also a bad for SEO in general I think. Because if you do not feel confident to make a link dofollow why even bother include it into your post?

    Nice article! Keep it up!

  9. Paolo G.
    Paolo G.  • 10 months ago

    Great article. I’ll invest in adding useful content outbound links to my articles.

    • Melina Reintjens
      Melina Reintjens  • 10 months ago

      Good to hear, Paolo!

  10. Sharadha
    Sharadha  • 10 months ago

    This post discussed more information about outbound links, got some ideas about outbound links, thank you so much for your informative post.

  11. Eillen Sharma
    Eillen Sharma  • 10 months ago

    Thanks for your amazing post it helps me a lot!!!

  12. Cerrajero
    Cerrajero  • 10 months ago

    ¿Don’t you think the outbound links could penalize the link juice on my site?

    Thanks for the plugin and for these useful posts :)

  13. Stijn Spijker
    Stijn Spijker  • 10 months ago

    Nice article!! Thank you for the explaining and tips! :)

  14. crmnigeria
    crmnigeria  • 10 months ago

    At the onset in my own case, it was a lot of work adding outbound links. But it really pays of at the end of the day. Nice article. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Danielle Petit
    Danielle Petit  • 10 months ago

    Hi Michiel,
    Love your avatar.
    Realy helpfull article especialy for newbie shop builders like me. Thank you fot sharing so much info with us. Thing I am wondering is, I would love to outbound, but most of my suppliers also sell b2c instead of only b2b. I am a little scared what happens ik the customer clicks on the link and see that the supplier has the whole collection instead of like me just a couple. Ans on the big shops like Wehkamp etc. I never see outbound. Tricky.

    • Melina Reintjens
      Melina Reintjens  • 10 months ago

      Hi Danielle! Glad to hear we could help :-) I get your concern with this; have you thought about linking to others than your supplier? I see your shop offers fair trade products, so perhaps there are relevant charities, or blogs about a fair trade lifestyle to link to? There are many ways a link can be relevant, you can be a little creative and see what fits your business :-)

  16. Freddy G. Cabrera
    Freddy G. Cabrera  • 10 months ago

    Hey Michiel!

    Helpful information on outbound links. It is important to have them throughout your content. Not a lot of them, but just a few relevant ones.

    This is also a good way to help others in the niche and a lot of times they do return the favor – resulting in a new backlink for you. It is a win-win situation.

    Thank you for sharing this!

    Best regards! :D

    • Melina Reintjens
      Melina Reintjens  • 10 months ago

      Thanks Freddy! You’re absolutely right: everyone benefits from a connected web :-)

  17. Jorge Sheffy
    Jorge Sheffy  • 10 months ago

    I always wondered what the reasoning behind this recommendation in Yoast SEO was. Now I know. It’s actually quite a noble reason behind it and of course, it does matter to an interconnected internet. I’m glad I finally understand and of course always try to link to a source when I use one and provide more information elsewhere when I can’t fulfill the need.

    • Melina Reintjens
      Melina Reintjens  • 10 months ago

      Happy to hear that’s been cleared up for you, Jorge :-)

  18. Mark
    Mark  • 10 months ago

    A few years back everyone kept saying about no follow on outbound links. Never knew if this wad good or bad. What do think.

  19. Whitefish Marketing
    Whitefish Marketing  • 10 months ago

    Hi Michiel
    I liked your post on the use of Outbound Links. I completely agree and advocate the use of outbound links to my clients. However we always look to ensure the sites are 1) relative to the industry and 2) of high domain value as well. So in essence the exact same reasons you would choose an inbound link.
    If you have an accounting website, and you link to HMRC, then Google sees that link as both relevant and also sourcing to a high domain authority – which shows you are providing information of high value.
    In turn, Google gives your own page more credibility for the topic you are trying to rank for.
    That’s my opinion anyway.
    Thanks – Chris Surridge

    • Melina Reintjens
      Melina Reintjens  • 10 months ago

      Well said, Chris!

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