Outbound links are everywhere online. Until relatively recently, Google limited the number of outbound links that could pass on their link juice to new websites. Today, that's no longer the case, but outbound linking has become so complicated that you may want to use an outbound link checker. These tools can help you to check outbound links both on your own website and on the websites where you're considering starting link building campaigns.
How Do Outbound Links Affect Websites?
Whenever a website that is considered to have authority (given to it in Google's 0-10 numerical “PageRank” value) gives an outbound link to another website, some of its authority is conferred upon the website being linked.
Why does that matter? Because when those outbound links are referring to your website, you'll receive a boost to your search engine rankings whenever Google indexes one of these links. The higher the PageRank of a website is, the more authority you can get from being linked there.
Why Do Outbound Links Need to Be Checked?
If you're not already checking your links with an outbound link checker, you might want to give it a try. Most software to check outbound links is available for free on the web—often you can use the tools right on a website rather than downloading a piece of outbound link checker software.
By checking on your own outbound links periodically, you can identify exactly which of your outbound links is getting the most traffic and which don't seem like they have been very useful for people using your website. If you have an outbound link that the outbound link checker indicates is almost never used, you might want to remove it so that the remaining links on your page get more value from the links they are receiving.
You can also run basic outbound link checker programs on other websites. While you won't be able to track hits to outbound links the same way that you can for your own site, you can verify that links are working. You may want to use your outbound link checker to monitor the number of links that are on a given website, for reasons that we'll go into in just a minute.
Is There an Outbound Links Limit?
If you've heard vague rumors that after a certain number of links, they don't count, or that you'll get penalized by Google for having more than some amount of links, that's no longer quite true. It is true that Google used to have, as part of its Webmaster Guidelines, a rule about having no more than 100 outbound links per page. Some people first used outbound link checker tools to make sure they weren't exceeding this limit.
However, as many websites began to grow that thrived on having large quantities of new links (think social networking and social bookmarking websites), this limit quickly became very impractical—and more importantly, it became unrepresentative of the web. If a website's link is spreading virally through social bookmarking websites, it should gain authority so that it's easier to search for.
However, that doesn't mean you get the same amount of link juice from your outbound links on these websites. Now, the total amount of authority a website has to give must be divided among all the links it has. This means that you won't get nearly as much link juice from a very link-heavy website as you would from a website with similar PageRank and only a few links. Because of this, outbound link checker tools are still relevant even though there's no longer a hard limit.
Avoiding Link Dilution With an Outbound Link Checker
By running an outbound link checker periodically on the websites where you're working to build inbound links, you can verify that your links are still worth something. If the links that you're building are very diluted, they may not be worth the time and effort that you're spending to make them (unless they're from a website with a very high PageRank score).
You can also use an outbound link checker to find out which new websites might be fertile ground to start building new links on. By understanding how much link juice you're likely to get from each new link, you can start anticipating how much you'll rise in search rankings and how many additional links you need in order to reach your search engine optimization goals.
Monitoring Inbound and Outbound Link Traffic
If you want to keep a very close eye on your outbound links, you need something more than a basic outbound link checker. If you want to be able to closely monitor where your traffic is coming from and where it's going, you'll need to start checking events using Google Analytics. Event tracking can actually involve anything on your website, from clicking a link that goes to another page on your site to tracking visitors who stay longer than five minutes on a particular page.
However, this isn't for the faint hearted or the bad with computers. You'll need some basic coding skills to get started on event tracking, in contrast to the very easy to use basic outbound link checker programs. For some smaller firms, it's probably not worth it to pay someone to do this work—you may want to focus your search engine marketing efforts on other aspects of search engine optimization.
Analyzing Your Outbound Links
Once you start tracking where your links are heading and keeping track of how many you have with an outbound link checker, you'll be able to do some hardcore analysis. Outbound link analysis can help you understand what your site visitors want and where they're going to get it.
By looking at the traffic leaving your website through your links, you can develop a much more data driven understanding of what to include on your website and what to direct people offsite for. While this kind of analysis can be somewhat difficult, many analytics agencies can help you interpret the results for a reasonable fee.