Do Outbound Links Contribute to Page Authority?

In the SEO world, domain authority and page authority are the biggest indicators for how well a page of your site ranks for a relevant query. Accordingly, search experts prioritize them above all else. For the most part, there’s overlap here—a strong domain authority will lend itself to each of your individual pages, and any actions you take to increase the page authority of a specific page of your site will likely also contribute to your domain authority (in a smaller way).

The factors responsible for increasing your domain and page authority are diverse, and sometimes hard to improve. For example, the age and history of your domain is a major influencer in how authoritative it seems—but you can’t just tack on years to your experience to give it a worthwhile boost. Instead, most ongoing SEO programs rely on inbound link building as third-party indicators that a domain is valuable. The idea is, the more trustworthy the links that point to your site, the more trustworthy your site will be.

(Image Source: Moz)

Google evaluates the vastly complicated interrelationships between websites, and uses this data to decide which ones are most deserving of higher ranks. We all tend to focus on inbound link building, since our domain is the one we’re concerned with, but what about outbound links? What about a domain’s external linkage to other sites? Are they a significant factor to page and domain authority as well?

User Experience Factors

First, let’s take a look at the practical reasons why you’d want to include outbound links in the first place. Isn’t it better to keep your users on your site for as long as possible?

Actually, outbound links are indicators that you’ve done your homework, or that you’re meaningfully connected to a given industry. For example, you might cite a major study that was conducted by a leading authority in your industry, or make reference to a professional blogger’s article on a semi-related topic. This shows users that your content is well-researched, shows that you’re well connected, and gives them additional, valuable information they can use to make informed decisions. In short, when used as citations, references, and “further reading,” outbound links improve your reputation.

How Outbound Links Can Help SEO

Now let’s look at outbound links from an optimization perspective. When Google indexes your pages, it does consider the types of links on each page. There are a few ways it takes these into considerations:

Do these considerations look familiar? It’s because they’re almost identical to how Google considers inbound links. All these factors can influence the power an outbound link has, just like an inbound link. However, be aware that since you have more control over outbound links (i.e., they don’t serve as third-party indicators), they tend to carry less power.

How Outbound Links Can Hurt SEO

Unfortunately, there are also a couple of ways your links can damage your page and domain authority:

Best Practices and Takeaways for Outbound Links

Now that we’ve looked at both sides, we can compile a list of handy “best practices” for outbound links on any given page on your site:

With these best practices in place, you’ll see better results for each page on your site (as well as your overall domain). However, this strategy is not as powerful as others in the realm of SEO, such as link building and ongoing content marketing. Keep it as a useful tool in your arsenal—but don’t prioritize it higher than it needs to be.

Want more information on link building? Head over to our comprehensive guide on link building here: SEO Link Building: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide

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