When it comes to linking out to other sites, most bloggers usually settle for this basic concept – don't ever link out to spammy/bad ones.
Yes, we all know this.
But the bigger question is: will this alone be enough to let you efficiently build and manage your link network?
The answer is no.
Say hello to Link Intelligence, where bloggers learn how to deal with outbound links the right way.
The link structure of your blog is crucial. You might as well think of it as the biggest slice to your current status on search engine result pages (SERPs).
You see, it’s not about how infrequently or generously you are linking out. It’s all about getting link savvy.
What is being link savvy all about?
Aside from who you link too, it’s also about knowing when and where to properly put links in your posts (and you thought anywhere was just fine, didn’t you?).
Any great post is always a result of these balanced elements: quality content, easy-to-digest writing style, and helpful links.
Having too many links will simply distract your readers; plus it might make you look spammy.
Having too few or none will make you wonder if your post alone is enough without any good references. Of course, not every post has to have a link, same as not every link you include should be there in the first place.
So how do you know when to link or not to link?
Fortunately, learning just a few simple link intelligence rules can go a long way.
1. The uninformed reader’s perspective
This is perhaps your best way to determine link relevancy without using any sophisticated tools (unless you count your head).
When in doubt whether a link is necessary, look at it from the standpoint of a clueless reader.
If you have no idea what the topic is about, what kind of information and/or links are needed for you to fully grasp the post?
It’s pretty much self-explanatory.
For example, if you’re talking about some advanced topic, it would be beneficial for your reader if you linked to your basic posts (and thus improve relevancy and increase your page clicks).
Read more on this topic:
2. Linking only to specific pages
Sometimes, you need to be thrifty with links as well; not because it’s not important, but because it doesn’t really add any value.
Linking to popular pages has that effect.
For example, if you want to write about how Mark Zuckerberg inspires you, you’re invariably going to write about Facebook. However, there’s no need to place a link to ‘Facebook’ because everyone knows what it is. But say you want to link to Mark’s official facebook account or an interview he did, then you should place a link.
3. When generosity works best
This is one of those cases when more is always better than less.
When your post involves roundups (a collection of great posts from other blogs in your niche) or includes a quote or any words of wisdom that aren't your own, you should respect intellectual property rights and link to the source author/blog.
You don’t want to be branded as the blogger with the bad etiquette if someone catches you ripping off a phrase or an idea – especially when it comes from a popular persona.
Plus, linking out to other sites in this way can bring you additional traffic and recognition from the blog owner. Not so bad for future partnerships, right?
4. On when to protect your links
NoFollow tags should be used sparingly.
I tend to use them only when I link to huge NoFollow sites, which is, let's face it, most of them.
For instance, when I link to Twitter or Facebook or Wikipedia or even WordPress plugins, I use NoFollow.
And I ALWAYS use NoFollow when it comes down to affiliate links – something that many bloggers forget.
When I do my weekly blog audits, I often notice that when blog owners place banners with affiliate links in their sidebars, those links tend to be DoFollow.
Since those sidebars show up on every single page of your blog, you leak some of your PageRank and authority to those sites FROM EVERY PAGE.
Join our DoFollow debate:
So you see, it isn’t enough to see links as something you can use anywhere as long as you don’t link to bad sites.
Next time you write a post, pay more attention to your outbound links: avoid overlinking and underlinking and do it like Goldilocks – just right.