In a recent Google SEO office-hours session, John Mueller discussed the practices of linking to authoritative websites for search engine optimisation (SEO) purposes, and shed some light on whether outbound links to trustworthy websites can help to improve your website’s SEO.
A 1998 algorithm research paper created by Brett Tabke, whose recommendations have become a foundation of modern SEO, recommends the practice of adding links into your content to authoritative websites in order to rank better. Further to this, in a 2002 article, Tabke gave a 26-step guide to content marketing, with the seventh point saying the following about outbound links:
“From every page, link to one or two high ranking sites under that particular keyword. Use your keyword in the link text (this is ultra important for the future).”
But do outbound links help with your SEO in 2021?
Mueller confirmed that linking to sites that are trustworthy was a technique used in the early years of SEO when people would insert irrelevant links into spammy websites. They offered no benefit to the reader and were seen as a spam technique by Google, so he is saying that this practice will not do anything for your SEO.
However, this is not to say that inserting links should be avoided. If you have good content within your website and part of it references existing other content, then adding a link would be good for a user so that they can find out more information about a topic, and may improve the general quality and authenticity of the writing. Linking to authoritative sites would not in itself help a website with its SEO and Google ranking, however.