This is the question that webmasters and bloggers always ask. Links and specially external links (the links that are targeted to other websites) are one of the most important tools in the Internet and internet marketing. In fact the networking nature of the internet and world wide web is created through the links. Links connect websites to each other. They are like the streets of a city. Without links, the Internet loses its functionality.
But some webmasters hesitate to link to other websites. They might have one of the below reasons:
- They don’t like the visitors to leave their websites through the external links.
- They don’t like their competitors to receive any traffic and link weight from their websites.
- They think that linking to other websites means that their websites are not complete and so users have to have access to more information in other websites.
- They think that linking to other websites may hurt their websites PageRank and ranking in search engines.
So what should webmasters and bloggers do?
Is it good to link to other websites or you’d better to avoid it as much as you can?
Let’s review the reasons that some webmasters or bloggers have for not linking to the other sites, and see if they are right or not.
They don’t like the visitors to leave their websites:
This is true that external links will redirect your website visitors to the other websites, but even if you don’t link to other websites, they will leave your website when they can not find what they want and feel that your website doesn’t have enough information. Many of visitors will leave your site before doing anything.
So you’d better to provide them with some more resources by linking to other websites. A least when they go to other websites, they know that it was because of the links that you had placed on your website. It means they can find good resources on your website and so it is highly possible to get back to your website in future but when your website can not even help them with some links to other resources, they will never be back to your website.
You can use the target=”_blank” attribute in the external links and open all the external links in a new page. So your website remains open and visitors can get back to it after visiting and closing the target website.
They don’t like their competitors to receive any traffic and link weight from their websites:
This is true that the websites that have more related information for your visitors are all your competitors but as I explained you should provide your visitors with links to the other resources. This will make your website helpful and supportive for users.
Websites of the same niche are like the members of a union. They should know each other as the co-workers not competitors. They are a group of people who have common interests, skills and abilities. So they can help each other.
If you want to provide more resources for your visitors, you have to link to the competitor websites because these websites may have the information that your website visitors need. Accordingly, your competitors have to link to your website because a website can not have all the information and can not cover everything that users need.
They think that linking to other websites means that their websites are not complete and so users have to have access to more information in other websites:
As I explained this is absolutely a wrong idea. A website is like a book. It can not have all the information. That’s why we have libraries that each of them have thousands of book. All the scientific books, have several references at the end of each chapter. These references are others’ books and articles. They are exactly like the external links in the websites. So even books are linked to each other. Why shouldn’t websites?
They think that linking to other websites may hurt their websites PageRank and ranking in search engines:
This is wrong too. Linking to other on-topic websites not only doesn’t have any negative effect on your website ranking and PageRank but will help it too. Your website will be ranked higher if you link it to the other websites in your niche.
So you should link to on-topic websites in your niche. You should link to your competitors and they should link to you too.
What kind of external links should you avoid adding to your websites?
- According to Google, you should not link to bad neighborhoods. They are bad websites that Google doesn’t like them. For example link scheme, FFA or free for all, spam, scam and … websites. Linking to such websites will hurt your website ranking and PageRank.
- You should not link to off-topic websites. If your website is about “internet marketing”, you should link to internet marketing related websites not health, beauty and weight loss websites. Linking to off-topic websites will hurt your website ranking and PageRank.
- You should not link to the websites that are known as the bad or suspected websites by SiteAdvisor.
Is using the rel=”nofollow” attribute good?
The rel=”nofollow” attribute prevents the search engines spiders to follow a link to the target page or website. If you add the rel=”nofollow” to a hyperlink, it will not have any link popularity credit and value for the link target page.
Google created this attribute to prevent spamming in public places like weblogs that people can add links by themselves. This is a good way to prevent spamming but you should not use this attribute in the external links that you add by yourself.
Do you know why?
As I explained, linking to on-topic websites will not only provide more useful information and recourses for the users but will improve your website ranking and PageRank. Your website users will have no idea about the rel=”nofollow” attribute you add in the external links because it doesn’t make any changes in the links functions and appearance. But in fact, when you have the rel=”nofollow” attribute in a link, search engines can not see it and so they can not know that you have linked to an on-topic website.
So you should use the rel=”nofollow” attribute in the pages that users can add their links by themselves.
By linking to on-topic websites, you give more value to your websites from the search engines and users point of view. Try to provide your websites users with more information and resources by linking to on-topic websites. This also will improve your website ranking in search engines. On-topic websites are websites that are focused on the same topic as your website. They are the websites of the same niche.