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Outgoing Links - What Would You Do?


Bryan Bloom

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Nov 22, 2018
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I have read as much as I can read on this, but many on this forum are insanely smart so … curious what you think.

Many of our clients are SAB’s – service area businesses. So, we build “city pages” for them to build relevancy for each of those areas.

On each of those pages we have a list near the bottom of the page – just above the footer, that is called “City Resources” an example would be Atlanta Resources if the page is about Atlanta. They are actually good sources of information and they link out to other pages. The linked page is opened in a new tab and they are dofollow links. On each page we have between 8 and 15 of these outgoing resource links.

We were hoping these links are a good indicator to Google and someone may actually need and use those links when they land on the city page. We thought the links in themselves would help get the city pages to rank....

BUT... I think we blew it by not making them "nofollow" and are hurting our city pages by sending juice to those linked pages.

Would you 1) change all the resource links to "nofollow", 2) use fewer, or no links, 3) put all the links somewhere else - (another page just for links), 4) or some other thing or a combination?

Thank you in advance for any advice, guidance or assistance!
 

Phil Rozek

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@Bryan Bloom, I wouldn't say it matters. If pressed to choose, I would not make those links nofollows. In my experience, how those pages rank depends on (1) relevance, (2) the link juice of your site more broadly, and possibly (3) on the quality of the links you've got to those specific "city" page URLs

It's a stretch to imagine Google cares at all whether those links are nofollow. But if Google did care, it's equally plausible to guess that Google only wants you to link to sources you trust, and that to do otherwise just looks like an SEO tactic. Guess that's up for debate.

For me, the big concern is that those outbound links are often a substitute for info that's relevant to the service the business offers. Maybe the links point to sites relevant to a given city, but then the page reads like a miniature Wikipedia page about that place. Most people don't care that Frank Sinatra once stopped there to take a whiz, and neither does Google.

What content is relevant both to the place and to the service(s)? Depends on a lot of things, but now I'm getting off-topic. (I've written some posts on that, though.)
 

Bryan Bloom

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@Bryan Bloom, I wouldn't say it matters. If pressed to choose, I would not make those links nofollows. In my experience, how those pages rank depends on (1) relevance, (2) the link juice of your site more broadly, and possibly (3) on the quality of the links you've got to those specific "city" page URLs

It's a stretch to imagine Google cares at all whether those links are nofollow. But if Google did care, it's equally plausible to guess that Google only wants you to link to sources you trust, and that to do otherwise just looks like an SEO tactic. Guess that's up for debate.

For me, the big concern is that those outbound links are often a substitute for info that's relevant to the service the business offers. Maybe the links point to sites relevant to a given city, but then the page reads like a miniature Wikipedia page about that place. Most people don't care that Frank Sinatra once stopped there to take a whiz, and neither does Google.

What content is relevant both to the place and to the service(s)? Depends on a lot of things, but now I'm getting off-topic. (I've written some posts on that, though.)
@Phil Rozek thanks so much for taking the time, I really appreciate and trust what you say. It is one of those things that I keep going back and forth on.

Of course I agree with you regards relevance (and I feel they really are relevant), and agree regards site juice broadly. But .. then if we consider that the link juice coming to the city pages is important and those links need to be dofollow links from the other site, then logic makes me scratch my head. That would mean those other sites would be sending some link juice my way to enhance my page. Thus I must(?) be sending some out... that is where I am getting confused.

I am glad to hear you think they should remain dofollow.. BTW the links are really relevant and could be useful, they are curated as such and hand picked. But what I may do is make some pages' links nofollow just to see if that changes anything. But what I am hearing you say is it's not in itself a huge deal ;-) Thanks so much for taking the time to respond!
 

Phil Rozek

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@Bryan Bloom, sure thing.

Of course, only Google knows what goes into the sausage, so I can only go on what I've observed. I've created many effective "city" pages and many clunkers. YMMV.

Anyway, good points. A few considerations I'd add:

1. If your "city" pages have little or no link juice themselves, then it really must not matter whether you (in a worst-case scenario) bleed off pagerank.

2. It's conceivable Google would consider the use of nofollows in this case to be pagerank-sculpting. Again, not that I assume Google cares one way or another. But if Google does care whether the links are nofollowed, it's plausible that the nofollows work against you.

Not sure how well one could test this sort of thing, given that each city is different (and so are the searchers in it), but I'd be interested to hear how this shakes out.
 

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
Joined
Sep 12, 2012
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I have read as much as I can read on this, but many on this forum are insanely smart so … curious what you think.

Many of our clients are SAB’s – service area businesses. So, we build “city pages” for them to build relevancy for each of those areas.

On each of those pages we have a list near the bottom of the page – just above the footer, that is called “City Resources” an example would be Atlanta Resources if the page is about Atlanta. They are actually good sources of information and they link out to other pages. The linked page is opened in a new tab and they are dofollow links. On each page we have between 8 and 15 of these outgoing resource links.

We were hoping these links are a good indicator to Google and someone may actually need and use those links when they land on the city page. We thought the links in themselves would help get the city pages to rank....

BUT... I think we blew it by not making them "nofollow" and are hurting our city pages by sending juice to those linked pages.

Would you 1) change all the resource links to "nofollow", 2) use fewer, or no links, 3) put all the links somewhere else - (another page just for links), 4) or some other thing or a combination?

Thank you in advance for any advice, guidance or assistance!
I doubt the links have anything to do with the ranking being poor. Links out do not "leak" rank juice, according to Google's old PageRank documents (if I remember correctly).

Also, I doubt whether the links are follow or nofollow matter.

I think a more likely culprit would be the doorway page algorithm. How different is the content for these pages? Is it just the same content rewritten? Do you have links going to these pages?
 
Joined
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I doubt the links have anything to do with the ranking being poor. Links out do not "leak" rank juice, according to Google's old PageRank documents (if I remember correctly).

Also, I doubt whether the links are follow or nofollow matter.

I think a more likely culprit would be the doorway page algorithm. How different is the content for these pages? Is it just the same content rewritten? Do you have links going to these pages?
Thanks Josh! The issue in the end was content and I think keyword stuffing honestly the more I looked ;-( Sad to admit. At least everyone agrees to not change to nofollow!
 
Joined
Nov 22, 2018
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Thanks so much for these I looked at both. The thing that still baffles me is that if you get a nofollow link to you, you don't get the rank sent to you... less value. But if you get a regular follow link it is better. Correct?

So logic tells me that if you want to link out but not send out any link value a nofollow link would do that. Thus we trust the source we are linking to but if we don't want to give then any of our link juice we make it nofollow. Yet that is not what people are saying here ;-)
 
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The amount of "link juice" given to a link is small and practically speaking is not going to harm to the PageRank of your page.

This goes way back now to the original PageRank patent (and I've just started on my first coffee of the morning and 6.45 am because Mindy ther cat woke me up claiming she had not been fed breakfast for 6 months and could now see a small part of the bottom of her dry food dish which in the world of cats means the bowl is empty) but if I recall correctly the presumed formula for outgoing links is something like this:

PR given to a single outgoing link = (1 - (.85 * PR of your page)) / (total number of outgoing links on your page including internal links)

So as you increase the number of outgoing links on a page, you decrease the amount of PR given to each of those links.

The total value given to all outgoing links will only be a small amount of the PR of your page (the 1 -.85 part above), and that of course is offset by incoming links to the same page.

Add to all that the fact that while PR is still a factor it has decreased in relative importance with the addition of some 300+ other factors to the algorithm and worrying about what used to be called "PageRank leak" is basically a waste of time and energy.

The decision about whether to make a link dofollow or nofollow should not be based on any concerns about PR leak. Base it instead on how much you trust that outgoing link and whether or not you are receiving any form of compensation for the link (if yes, make it nofollow).
 

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
Joined
Sep 12, 2012
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311
The amount of "link juice" given to a link is small and practically speaking is not going to harm to the PageRank of your page.

This goes way back now to the original PageRank patent (and I've just started on my first coffee of the morning and 6.45 am because Mindy ther cat woke me up claiming she had not been fed breakfast for 6 months and could now see a small part of the bottom of her dry food dish which in the world of cats means the bowl is empty) but if I recall correctly the presumed formula for outgoing links is something like this:

PR given to a single outgoing link = (1 - (.85 * PR of your page)) / (total number of outgoing links on your page including internal links)

So as you increase the number of outgoing links on a page, you decrease the amount of PR given to each of those links.

The total value given to all outgoing links will only be a small amount of the PR of your page (the 1 -.85 part above), and that of course is offset by incoming links to the same page.

Add to all that the fact that while PR is still a factor it has decreased in relative importance with the addition of some 300+ other factors to the algorithm and worrying about what used to be called "PageRank leak" is basically a waste of time and energy.

The decision about whether to make a link dofollow or nofollow should not be based on any concerns about PR leak. Base it instead on how much you trust that outgoing link and whether or not you are receiving any form of compensation for the link (if yes, make it nofollow).
This all sounds correct (I can't remember the PageRank formula specifics in terms of numbers) but you are not losing PageRank by linking out. The PageRank you give via a link is determined by the PageRank you have but that does not mean you lose PageRank by linking out. You retain your PageRank no matter how many links you outlink with. Your PageRank is just merely a piece of the formula to determine how worthy your link is.
 
Joined
Nov 22, 2018
Messages
16
Likes
4
The amount of "link juice" given to a link is small and practically speaking is not going to harm to the PageRank of your page.

This goes way back now to the original PageRank patent (and I've just started on my first coffee of the morning and 6.45 am because Mindy ther cat woke me up claiming she had not been fed breakfast for 6 months and could now see a small part of the bottom of her dry food dish which in the world of cats means the bowl is empty) but if I recall correctly the presumed formula for outgoing links is something like this:

PR given to a single outgoing link = (1 - (.85 * PR of your page)) / (total number of outgoing links on your page including internal links)

So as you increase the number of outgoing links on a page, you decrease the amount of PR given to each of those links.

The total value given to all outgoing links will only be a small amount of the PR of your page (the 1 -.85 part above), and that of course is offset by incoming links to the same page.

Add to all that the fact that while PR is still a factor it has decreased in relative importance with the addition of some 300+ other factors to the algorithm and worrying about what used to be called "PageRank leak" is basically a waste of time and energy.

The decision about whether to make a link dofollow or nofollow should not be based on any concerns about PR leak. Base it instead on how much you trust that outgoing link and whether or not you are receiving any form of compensation for the link (if yes, make it nofollow).
Wow thank you so much to both of you.. This now finally make sense to me!! I thought I was smart - but thank goodness for your explanation! BTW hope the cat survived the food ordeal!! All the best to you and seriously, thanks so much.
 

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