Most bloggers/webmasters think that by mostly linking in, you’ll increase PR, increase the average amount of time a visitor spends on your site, and increase traffic. While at the surface this may be true, I believe that linking out is just as good if not better than linking in and here are my reasons why:

SEO:

I’ve seen this one debated across the web. The results of a linking out experiment to determine SEO benefits appear different depending on who did the experiment. As a rule of thumb, who cares if you link to your competitor just as long as it benefits your audience. By the way, there are certain cases in which linking to your competitor is seen as a classy move. Besides, if it helps the reader, then you are doing your job better! Be open to those opportunities.

Backlinks:

If the blog owner approves of your pingback/trackback url to be published, that is one more backlink you have for your blog. Plus, it lets other blog owners know that your site exists which may mean future backlinks. Some call this linkbaiting, whatever you call it though, when you cite another source for information it shows you respect that source and you trust it.

Knowledge:

Linking out provides a way for your audience to expand their wealth of knowledge by picking up websites they may not have known about before. This aids in reading content from multiple perspectives. Also, providing links related to whatever niche you are writing about will help establish your expertise in the field and that you keep up with the latest and greatest for that particular niche.

Networking:

Linking out when publishing an article generally initiates what are known as Pingbacks or Trackbacks. These little notifications inform a blog owner that someone has linked to one of their articles. I can tell you based on experience that I’ve personally discovered some great sites by checking out my trackback/pingback notifications and it’s also proven to be a great opportunity to network with other blog owners.

Unselfish:

It’s very easy to continuously link in to other articles you have produced on your site but if you do it too much, your readers might think your selfish and have no desire for any one else’s opinions. Linking out takes care of this before it becomes a problem. Will discusses Google PR Greed and how by only linking out he got 2 PR3 pages on a site, which confirms my theory that number of incoming links is not as important as the quality.

Audience:

If you continuously link out to great content that your audience finds useful, they will keep coming back for more and will most likely tell their friends. The key is to link out to great, resourceful material on a consistent basis. People love it when their desired subject matter has been filtered out so that only the most interesting or useful content appears before them.

Cite Resources:

While it is easy to state nonfactual claims all day long, you’re only doing your readers a disservice (and most likely yourself). Instead, back up your claims by linking out to third party sites who agree with your line of thought or who have produced the research that supports your statements.

Conclusion:

Don’t be afraid to link to your “competitors” (I like to look at them as colleagues myself). In my opinion, if you only have links coming in your site becomes a dead end and I can’t see one reason that helps the end user. Remember, Google is searching for sites that help people find the information they are looking for.

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Filed under: SEO

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