Are You Linking Out? You Should Be

A lot of people are afraid to incorporate linking out into their websites and blogs. This is caused by a fear of loosing the visitor to the site you linked to so people do things like open a new tab or window to supposedly avoid loosing the visitor. Today we are going to show you why you should be linking out as part of your link building strategy.

Opening Links in a New Window or Tab

Out of fear of loosing their visitor, people use the target=”_blank” attribute in their links to make the external links on their site open a new window or tab. This doesn’t work too good.

But Using New Windows Keeps Users on my Site!

Not on its own, it doesn’t! Web users will stay on a site because it has the information they’re looking for, or because it helps them achieve their goals — not because the browser window is still open.

If users want to return to a Website, they’ll use the back button. If a new window is used, the back button in this window is reset, so users won’t be able to do return to your site using this common method (cue frustrated users).

Beware of Opening Links in a New Window – Sitepoint

Next, it causes your site have poor accessibility. Those who use assistive technology to read web pages to them get confused which window they have active. Try it yourself if you don’t believe me. Open a couple of browser windows or tabs, turn on Windows Narrator, close your eyes and try and figure out which tab you are on. Difficult, isn’t it.

Until user agents allow users to turn off spawned windows, do not cause pop-ups or other windows to appear and do not change the current window without informing the user.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Point 10.1

Opening a link in a new window or tab also creates a usability problem. The visitor can get confused which window/tab to close. Even a seasoned web surfer can do this. Admit it, you have closed the wrong tab or window yourself.

Why not open links in a new window?

Here are my top five usability reasons why you should beware of opening links in a new window:

  1. Unless you warn them, web users are likely to expect the new page to load in the current window. Unexpected surprises can be fun, but not when you’re browsing the web.
  2. Using a new browser window resets the back button in that window. The back button is the second most used navigation function (after following hyperlinks) (source: useit.com2) so resetting it is a big no no.
  3. Opening a new browser window can be disorientating for very novice web users and for those who are visually impaired. They might not realise that a new window has opened and might struggle switching between windows.
  4. Using a new browser window is a little disrespectful to web users. If they want a new window, they’ll ask for one. Don’t force a new window upon users unless there’s a very good reason to do so.
  5. Using new browser windows can make an already cluttered taskbar, even more cluttered and difficult to use. We’ve all spent ages hunting through the taskbar, looking for the window we want. Don’t make this even harder by increasing the number of windows to look through.

Beware of opening links in a new window – Webcedible

Just leave the external links you have alone. No special attributes or scripting when the link is clicked. If you want to notify the user they will be leaving the site you can include a little icon indicating external link via CSS to add some usability.

Now that we have what not to do out of the way, let’s get to the benefits of linking out.

Benefits of Linking Out – External Linking

We all want our sites to be popular, the hub of your chosen niche. You do this by providing valuable information that people want to link to.

Providing Relevant Outbound Links is Good

Why is linking out good? Because as you write your article and make statements you should provide links to related and respected sources to backup your statements. This can be done by quoting a source and providing the link to the original article you quoted from (besides being good manners on the net).

Another way to provide relevant outgoing links is to provide a further reading or resources section at the end of your article.

Links Are the Currency of the Internet

…As for your side, you’ll want to actively post links that help other people look good (the people you link to) and help your readers find interesting material. Your personal goal may be to get noticed — this is not a bad thing — but you’ll accomplish the goal by helping people and reaching out as much as possible without too many expectations…

Chris Guillebeau
Page 69 279 Days to Overnight Success

If you have a look around Web Page Mistakes you will see we use both of these methods to provide you with information within our articles. You’ll also notice, we don’t use the target=”_blank” attribute in our links either.

Citations (Quotes) from Relevant Sites

Citations (or quotes) from relevant sites back up your statements. It shows you have researched the topic you have written about. These citations can either backup what you said or create conversation with your readers if you allow comments on your articles.

The proper way to quote a piece from another site is to use the blockquote set of tags surrounding the text quotes and provide the link where you quoted the material from.

<blockquote cite="link where you quoted from">
<p>Text you quoted</p>
<p>Link to the location where you got the quote</p>
</blockquote>

You can learn more about the blockquote tags and it’s cite attribute at W3Schools.

#1: Attribution

“Links are the currency of the web,” writes Jonathan Bailey. “If you use someone else’s content, whether licensed directly or through fair use, it’s important to be sure to provide a clickable link to the original site if at all possible. This not only helps visitors to your site find the original work, but it also provides SEO benefits for the creator of the content and guards against your site being mistaken by the search engines as the original work.

26 Ways to Enhance Your Blog Content | Social Media Examiner

Become a Useful Site by Linking Out

People who surf the web are impatient. If they visit a site looking for something and they can’t find it easily they leave. Some spend hours surfing looking for the information they want. You want to be the one stop source for all the information they will need. To do this you need to provide all the resources they need and stay on your site absorbing the information you provide instead.

There is an added benefit to being the resource hub for your topic, you can earn free incoming links from visitors bookmarking your site on StumbleUpon or other social bookmarking sites, tweeting that they found this fabulous site, mentioning on Facebook that their like minded friends should visit your site and then there are the not so public referrals like spreading the word in emails, newsletters and general conversation.

Earn Incoming Links

Beyond the ways of getting incoming links mentioned in the last section, there are those that just happen upon your site in the search results. Here is where the snowball effect of incoming links to your site starts. Getting discovered in the search results and in turn the visitors start spreading the word about your site on their own.

Get Noticed by Those Who You Link Out To

By linking out to respected resources you could get noticed by someone influential in your niche. They could stop by to see why they got an incoming link from your site, leave a comment in your comments section, join the conversation in the comments section or even check out your site and then write about you.

9.Link out to other blogs. Pointing to other relevant information and sources is integral to blogging. It also helps you get noticed by relevant content creators.

31 Ways to Make Your Blog Stand Out – Heidi Cohen

Link Out to Those Who Reference Your Site

Did you get noticed in the paper? Mentioned on someone else’s blog or site? Linking out to the site that referenced you is a way to provide social proof that you are gaining respect from your peers. It also provides a little opportunity to brag (smiles).

Use Related Keywords in Your External Links

You will notice that as you read this article we used related keywords or the respected source’s name when linking out to their site. This adds to your overall on-page search engine optimization.

What Others are Saying About Linking Out

By its nature, a search engine looks for sites that are helpful to its end users. If the engine is ranking sites that aren’t useful to people, its user base will shrink. It’s in a search engine’s best interest to find and rank the most useful sites first.

With that in mind, when a search engine discovers a page pointing users in the direction of more useful information, that page will be given more credit.

Afraid to Link Out? Think Again – Search Engine Watch

Creating outbound links on your site, or “linking out”, is our topic for Day 3 of Links Week. Linking out happens naturally, and for most webmasters, it’s not something you have to worry about. Nonetheless, in case you’re interested about an otherwise simple topic that’s fundamental to the web, here’s the good, the bad, and answers to more advanced questions asked by our fellow webmasters.

Linking out: Often it’s just applying common sense -Official Google Webmaster Central Blog

As for costing PageRank – yes, it’s true. Technically, the original PR formula (described in great detail here by my grandfather, Si) dictates that any link equity spent on external pages is lost opportunity that could have been spent on internal pages. HOWEVER, I (and many other notable SEOs) have seen very compelling evidence to suggest that not only does linking out NOT harm a site’s rankings, it appears to carry some positive correlations with ranking, trust, etc. on both a page and domain-wide level. I’ll cover this more in my reasons to link out below.

5 Reasons You Should Link Out to Others From Your Website – SEOmoz

I hope you will look around your online world today and figure out a way to give something back – whether it’s a link, a ReTweet or sharing some information. I do believe what goes around comes around. And I know that linking out is useful for SEO as well as Karma. You’re saying to Google and other search engines: this is my neighborhood and I am sticking/linking to it.

Link Building: Christmas Gifts and Gratitude – Social SEO

Many of the poorly ranking websites that I am asked to fix share a common problem – they do not link out to any websites. Apparently, some people still think this is a terrible idea and go to extremes to never link out to anyone. Taking any idea to an extreme is generally never a good plan. By changing the outbound link policy, I have been able to help many sites boost their rankings. Let’s be clear – I am not talking about blindly linking to random sites. I am talking about linking out to quality websites that are relevant to the specific web page content.

Outbound Linking Can Boost Rankings – Michael Gray Graywolf’s SEO Blog

Linking Out is Not Bad

Linking out is not bad for your site. It provides complete information for your readers and entices them to come back to see what new information you have. Linking out builds your incoming links (what you need and want) without going out and looking for them or paying for them.

Links are how the web works. Get in the loop by linking out and becoming the go to site in your niche.

This article was created as part of the V7N 30 Day Blogging Challenge. Click the image below to see who else is participating.

More on Linking Out

Why Small Businesses Should Link Out

A New Linking Strategy: Out is the New In


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10 Responses to Are You Linking Out? You Should Be

  1. Web Design Cairns Says:

    Personally I think the fear of sending people off your site is justified. My own experience with the web is that I usually get side tracked and end up with 5-10 pages open, and when I run out of time, some of those pages get closed without reading them. I am normally a very focused person, but I am almost entirely sure the majority of people browse the web in this same manner. Do I return for the original hub of information? Sometimes, but more often than not no. I’m off googling again for new stuff.

    There are exception however, and those exceptions are sites with REALLY good information. Like this website. For example. I was here yesterday :) Maybe I’ll be back tomorrow.

  2. Luicer@Nikenya Domain Names Says:

    You truly hit the nail on the head! I think to me, opening a link in a new window or tab also creates a usability problem and it’s a risky of sending away as many traffic instead of inviting more. You have really helped out and I would like to bookmark your link. So informative and helpful ideas. Keep up!

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