John Mueller from Google offered his comments on the SEO practice of linking to authoritative websites.
John Mueller explained the background to this SEO tactic and offered Google’s point of view on the matter, saying that it doesn’t really change anything.
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Impact of External Links to Authority Sites for SEO
There is an SEO practice that dictates that linking to an authoritative website will help a site rank better.
This tactic has no basis in what a Googler said or posted to indicate that linking to an authoritative site is a ranking factor or SEO aid.
It’s actually a practice that evolved from a 1998 algorithm research article and the seminal document on SEO practices created by one of the fathers of modern SEO, Brett Tabke.
“Does giving a “do follow” link to a trusted authoritative site, is that good for SEO?”
John Mueller responded by first giving some background on the practice of linking.
I have a longer history in the search community than John Mueller, so my account of how this practice began is based on actually being there “from the beginning.”
However, Mueller’s version is pretty spot on.
“I think this is something that people used to do, way in the beginning, where they would create a spammy website and on the bottom they’d have a link to Wikipedia and CNN and then hope that search engines look at that and say like, Oh, this must be a legitimate website.
But… like I said… people did it this way in the beginning and it was a really traditional spam technique, almost.
And I don’t know if this ever actually worked.
So from that point of view I would say no, this doesn’t make any sense.”
Is Linking External Sites Can Be a Good Practice?
Next, John Mueller reaffirmed the usefulness of outbound links as a good practice in the event that the content references another web page.
“Obviously, if you have good content within your website and part of that references existing other content then kind of that whole structure that makes a little bit more sense and means that your website overall is a good thing.
But just having a link to some authoritative page, that doesn’t change anything from our point of view.”
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How Google Algorithm Reacts to Outbound Links?
John Mueller is clear that from an algorithmic point of view, outbound links do nothing for Google.
Anyone who insists that it is good SEO practice to link to an authorized site that I asked for a quote from cannot say why it is good practice.
Every person I’ve asked has had trouble finding a Google statement or patent or research article that definitely defines this as a good thing for SEO.
The reason they struggle is because there is no confirmation from Google that this is a good thing for SEO.
John Mueller’s statement is proof that there is no basis for the idea that links to “authority sites” are good for SEO.
However, it is good practice for the user experience.
Source: English Google SEO office-hours from October 1, 2021