Should external links be forbidden on your blog?

Content is King: Are external links harmful for SEO?

Anyone who writes a company blog shies away from external links due to the risk of getting penalized by Google. But is this a justified concern or do link recommendations actually have  significant benefits?

External links do not represent any ranking risks

Michael Martinez, author of „SEO Theory“ stated already back in 2013 that people should not worry too much about external links.

Fear-driven counting of your internal and external links and hiding the latter behind “re-nofollow” codes, so that they are withheld from search engines, is not recommended. Indeed, Google does not penalize on account of this behavior, but why should the site that is being linked to, not be discovered by Google? In the very moment of linking the site, you are actually recommending its content (and it does no harm to the paid backlinks, if the unpaid links are searched by Google).

Good links must be provided with context (should be in context)

Very important: whether your links are internal or external – they must make sense. Pay specific attention to the link text (that is the text that is being linked) and make sure the reader clearly understands what to expect when clicking the link. Here is where autolinking, a feature no longer as popular as it used to be a few years ago, is disastrous for the reader. Unfortunately, the bots that identify and link certain keywords in a text are not smart enough to incorporate the context of the text. It may happen, for example, that a comment on finance software links to a casino website via the link text “money” – the reader will be not amused and, at worst, avoid any link in the article.

So if you have meaningful internal and external links, please link and don’t think about how Google will react. Only the number of links should be restrained. Apart from the fact that Google might not index all links when the overall number is too high, readers are very sensitive to articles in which every word is underlined by a different link. (The same goes for duplicate links in a post). Follow this link if you want to learn more.

In the next part of our content series, I will ask the big question: are SEO texts really only for Google?

In the meantime you should make sure to read all the other articles of our “Content is King” blog series as well.

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