Do Outbound Links Help SEO? Where Should I Link to?

Nov 30th

So I recently set up a bunch of new websites and wanted to link out to a few authoritative sites right off the start. I added various numbers of outbound links to each channel, but after setting up a number of them I got pretty quick at researching where I should link at, even when I did not know a topic that well.

Outbound links are like a gimme in SEO. It's fairly hard to get the right type of people to link at a new site unless you bribe them or it's a great site, but just about anyone can improve their web community by linking out to some of the better resources on their topic.

Terms like PageRank leakage and bad neighborhood have made some webmasters become greedy or paranoid with their link popularity to the point where their sites become harder to link at because they are islands.

How do you find the best resources to link at?

What do the Various Major Engines Like?
My first port of call is Myriad Search. Search for the core phrase your site is focused on, synonyms, and phrases slightly broader in scope than your keyword phrase.

If you are in a hyper competitive field MSN tends to bring up some fairly spammy results, but sometimes seeing the results mixed together gives you a nice flavor of what they all like and sometimes you will find a nugget ranked at #7 in Yahoo! or #6 in Ask that all the other engines missed.

Unfortunately I am a fairly default searcher (primarily just using Google) but using Myriad helps me get an idea of what people can get away with (as far as content quality goes) in some of the engines.

Some people recommend other meta search engines, but like Berkeley, I think most meta search engines have way to many ads in the content area to be of any use.

Research, Research, Research!
Yahoo! Mindset allows you to bias your search results toward commercial or information result. Tilt that puppy full on research and see what sites they think are informational in nature.

Is that Page Created by the Government?
The Yahoo! Advanced Search page makes it easy to search just .gov or just .edu resources (or both at once). Sometimes this will be a miss, but I have found many great resources using the Yahoo! Advanced Search page.

Directories:
Many directories have picks or a star on favorite sites. DMOZ and the Yahoo! directories are the two most well known directories. You can also browse the Open Directory Project organized by PageRank using the Google Directory.

Don't forget some of the smaller higher quality directories created by librarians. LII is a killer site.

Vertical Authorities:
If you run a finance related site odds are pretty good that you can find something good at Fool.com, MarketWatch.com, Forbes.com, etc.

If you run an automotive site it is easy to link at Edmunds, Nada, Kelly Blue Book, etc.

To drill down go to a relevant vertical authority site and do a site level search for information related to your topic.

Broad Authorities:
When all else fails I like to link to sites with great overall authority scores if they have relevant pages or channels. Some examples include:

Other sites which have content on a wide array of topics like Answers.com, Topix.net, HowStuffWorks.com, and Britanica.com et al are also easy to link at.

I believe this site lists some of the top .com's.

That is about as far as I have gone with most of these new sites, but sometimes you may want to hunt further if you have an uber spammy topic like cash advance or are trying to go further in depth on a topic that is already well covered. Some other ideas...

Local Search:
If your searches are local in nature you may some of the best information by using regional search databases.

Filetype:
Don't forget that you can specify filetype. Spamming is a game of margins, and on the whole the average .doc or .PDF is going to be of higher quality than the average web page.

Search Engine Showdown has a good chart of search engine features.

Related Sites / Pages:
When you find a good site you can see which sites are related to it. Use a tool like the Google related search or the Touchgraph Google Browser.

Social Bookmarking:
There are a variety of social bookmarking websites which can help you find that key resource you need to reference to complete an article. De.lici.us is probably the most popular.

Link Socially: Tip for Blogs:
Technorati, Feedster, Daypop, Ice Rocket, and Google Blogsearch and Yahoo! Blogsearch are a few of the more well known blog search engines.

If you are running a blog or some type of a topical channel do not forget to use ego stroke techniques in your content and citations. Even if your idea is better than someone else's, or your read their idea after you came up with yours still give them a bit of link love.

Sometimes mentioning a prominent blogger (saying they are so right, they are hosed, they are normally spot on but are messed up on issue x) equates to a quality link back and many secondary links from various non clued up ditto heads :)

Published: November 30, 2005

Comments

June 23, 2006 - 9:36pm

Here is a cool resource for locating good links:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=us+national+library

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