How To Use Outbound Links Effectively
Why would I want to send someone away from my website?
This is a question we get often in regards to blogging.
And I totally understand the sentiment.
You have someone reading your blog post. The post has earned their attention. They’re finding value in the content. They’re on your site possibly learning about your company and maybe getting interested in what you’re selling.
Why would it make sense to include outbound links, links to other websites, within a blog post? Why risk someone clicking one of those links and leaving your website forever?
The Value In Outbound Links
Here are a few reasons to include outbound links in your content:
Validate Your Claims: Anytime you make a claim in your content you want to validate it. If you claim something like, “People like to see…” or “The majority of consumers…” the reader will question the truth behind the claim. If you link to a study or to a quote from an expert the reader is more likely to believe what they’re reading.
Show The Love: This is the golden rule. Link to others the way you would want to be linked to. If you create a wonderful blog post you naturally will want others to link to it. That’s how you want to approach blogging, but in reverse. During your research, if you find content that is valuable you want to link to it. By linking to it you provide additional value to your reader. They get your blog post and other blog posts. Your readers will appreciate that. It paints you in a good light.
Grow Awareness: Be careful with this one. There is potential to get carried away. One of the values in linking is to get on the radar of other bloggers and influencers. Just as you look at your analytics and sources of traffic so do others. If you send them traffic, via a link, many will likely see it and that could lead to opportunities. But you can’t expect it to happen and you don’t want to overdo it with this one.
These are just a few ways that outbound linking can be valuable for your content, but now I want to expand even more on the ways you can use outbound linking on your blog and with your other content.
1. Stats, Studies, Surveys & More
I mentioned this one earlier. Not much more to add to the point other than most blog posts benefit from adding stats or studies and things of that nature. It’s a way to validate your claims.
Some people will take your word for it. Based on your experience and reputation and things like that. But if you can back it up with data they’re even more likely to believe you and take action on what you’re saying.
For example, a study from years ago found that about half of adult Internet users trusted information they read in blog posts. If I just made that claim it would be more difficult to trust it.
2. Fill In The Gaps On Existing Content
One of the best ways to write content is to find something that sparks interest and then fill in the gaps or expand on it. For example, let’s say you find a piece of content that gives 10 great tips regarding something in your industry. The tips are great, but you feel like you can give 10, 20 or even 90 additional tips.
Link to the original post. Give some love showing where you got the idea and then expand with your own tips.
3. Your Point Of View On Existing Content
Like the previous point you can also give your own point of view on a topic. Maybe you read a post that you felt gave the opposite advice that you would give. Or maybe you want to confirm what a blog post said, but give your own additional reasons and experiences to support the claim.
4. Useful Tools, Services, Products and more
Some posts and content will find the mention of tools, products and services. It’s useful for the reader if you link to where they can view more information on these items or where they can even buy these items. If you’re mentioning a tool or something be sure to include that outbound link so it’s easier for your reader to find it.
I’m a big fan of using Buffer for social media sharing.
5. Your Own Outside Content
Another way to use outbound links is to your own content. Maybe you’ve done something with a partner. A piece of content or even something you’re selling with them that is not on your own site. You can include a mention in a blog post and link to that outside content.
Here is a podcast episode I did.
I’m a big believer in linking to outside content. I really haven’t run into issues with people leaving my website and never coming back. In fact, I find that outbound linking really only has benefits and doesn’t really have any downside. You just have to get over the idea that you’re sending people away from your site. You’re not doing that. Instead, you’re providing value to your reader, which is always a good thing.