Are outbound links to authority sites good for SEO?

Google’s John Mueller commented on the SEO practice of linking to authoritative websites. John Mueller explained the background to this SEO tactic and offered Google’s take on it, saying it doesn’t really change anything.

Outbound links to authority sites for SEO

There is an SEO practice that linking to an authoritative website will help a site rank higher.

This tactic has no basis in anything a Googler has said or posted to indicate that a link to an authoritative site is a ranking factor or SEO aid.

It’s actually a practice that evolved from a 1998 algorithm research paper and the SEO Practices Founding Document created by one of the fathers of modern SEO, Brett Tabke.

HITS algorithm

In 1998, Jon Kleinberg published an article detailing his research paper on the ranking algorithm that used a new form of link analysis called HITS.

This new process gave a web page two ratings:


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  1. A hub score
  2. A note of authority

Kleinberg based his HITS algorithm on the idea that some sites had hand-picked pages that linked to authoritative sites. These sites linked to quality sites are called “hubs” and have been assigned a hub score.

The second idea behind HITS is that high quality sites have accumulated links from hub pages. These pages are called authorities. Authoritative sites received an authority score.

This idea of ​​a hub score and an authority score caught the attention of the SEO community who subsequently adopted the concepts of authority and hub scores as SEO best practices.

But here’s an important fact that has largely gone unnoticed: Google has never used the HITS algorithm.

But the concept of hubs and authority sites nonetheless became part of SEO practice on the assumption that maybe Google probably used them or will use them in the algorithm.


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Successful site in 12 months with Google alone

In 2002, Brett Tabke published an article whose recommendations became the foundation of modern SEO.

This almost 20-year-old article was titled:

Website Success In 12 Months With Google Alone: ​​26 Steps For 15,000 A Day – A Modern Guide to Content Marketing

The idea that it’s good to link to another site is one of the SEO best practices recommended by Brett Tabke in 2002.

Brett wrote:

“G) Outgoing links:
From each page, link to one or two high ranking sites under that particular keyword. Use your keyword in the link text (this is very important for the following).

The reason I call Brett Tabke a father of modern SEO is that almost every recommendation in this 2002 article has become the standard for SEO practice.

Many SEO practices of 2002, such as linking to an authoritative site, continue to be viewed as useful by the SEO community, even though Google has never confirmed that a link to an authoritative site is good. for SEO.

Are links to authoritative sites good for SEO?

Here we are 19 years later and connecting to authoritative sites is still a thing.

The person asking the question wanted to know if the outbound links still existed.

Here is the question:

“Is giving a ‘follow’ link to a trusted authoritative site good for SEO?” “

John Mueller responded by first giving some general information about the practice of bonding.

I have a longer history in the research community than John Mueller, so my account of how this practice started is based on actually being there. “way at the start.

Still, Mueller’s version is pretty much on the right track.

Outbound links for SEO make no sense

John Mueller replied:

“I think this is something that people did at the beginning, where they would make a website with spam and at the bottom they would link to Wikipedia and CNN and then hope the search engines look at that and say like , Oh, this must be a legitimate website.

But… like I said… people did it that way at first and it was almost a really traditional spam technique.

And I don’t know if it has ever worked.

So from that point of view I would say no, it doesn’t make sense. “


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Link building can be a good practice

John Mueller then reaffirmed the usefulness of outbound links as a good practice in the event that the content refers to another web page.

Mueller observed:

“Obviously if you have good content on your website and some of that content references other existing content, then some kind of whole structure that makes a little more sense and means your website in as a whole is a good thing.

But just having a link to an authoritative page doesn’t change anything from our point of view.

Outbound links don’t change anything for Google

John Mueller is clear that from an algorithmic standpoint, outbound links do nothing for Google.

Anyone who insists that it is good SEO practice to link to an authoritative site that I have asked for a quote cannot say why it is a good practice.

Everyone I interviewed struggled to find a Google statement, patent, or research paper that definitely shows that this is something that is good for SEO.


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The reason they struggle is that there is no confirmation from Google that this is something that is good for SEO.

John Mueller’s statement is proof that there is no basis for the idea that a link to “authority sites” is good for SEO.

It’s good user experience practice, however.


Is a link to an authority site good for SEO?

Watch John Mueller answer the question after 31:25 minutes:

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