Hey! Editors! Leave Them Links Alone!

There’s a trend of editors in the SEO world uptight about linking out.

A friend in the industry who guest blogs recently told me that he was told by his editor he couldn’t promise links to contributors who participated in guest interviews. Others have been seeing the same, and writers I work with have seen their editors take forever about updating bios [with the attendant links] …

WTF?

The big three engines encourage you to link out to quality sites and resources.

(From Matt Cutts, on the death of nofollow PageRank sculpting:

“Q: Okay, but doesn’t this encourage me to link out less? Should I turn off comments on my blog?
A: I wouldn’t recommend closing comments in an attempt to “hoard” your PageRank. In the same way that Google trusts sites less when they link to spammy sites or bad neighborhoods, parts of our system encourage links to good sites.”)

(Found via SEO 2.0’s “Matt Cutts [admits] linking out [is] a ranking factor.“)

Google’s Librarian Newsletter featured an editor of the Librarian’s Internet Index – one of the highest quality and most exclusive directories around, today the ipl two – telling readers that linking out to good places is a positive signal.

Here’s a really simple question:

If you trust your writers enough to publish their articles, why don’t you trust them enough to publish their links as is?

Baseless Fear

In my opinion, there are a lot of editors and sites who are scared silly – especially in SEO and more generally in internet marketing – of offering links, and of offering links with quality anchor text.

They’re scared because they think this will mark their sites as bad or spammy. They’re scared because they’re thinking of search engines first and humans second.

When you link out with generous anchor text, you’re doing your readers a favour, too. They know what the subject of the page they get to is going to be. And those that click through will accordingly bounce less.

Imagine if Google sold AdWords and said you can only use brand-awareness copy, even on generic keywords. So you’re advertising car loans but you can only write copy like, “Visit ABC Lending Co. In business since 1905. A financial co you can trust.”

a) The CTR would be lower.
b) If the underlying page is actually about car loans (or SEO services etc.), then you’re creating a disconnect between your ad and the landing page. People expect to find out about ABC Lending and instead get a car loan application form.

On CTR: Sending visitors out to other sites is akin to scoring karma points. You always get more than you give, so creating a high CTR is a good thing – don’t worry about visitors leaving your site. They’ll be back.

To wit, if your name is Ann Smarty, and your profession is SEO consultant, which of ‘Ann Smarty’ and ‘SEO consultant’ would make more sense for me to use as anchor text when I link to your SEO consulting page?

If you’re Ontolo and your business is link building, doesn’t using link building as anchor text make sense?

If you do a group interview, shouldn’t you link to the interviewees’ sites to thank them? If they’re good enough to be cited, how can they not be good enough to be linked to?

And then SEOs will whine about newspapers not linking out. Geeez…

Gab Goldenberg wrote this on behalf of the Ireland search engine optimisation company, Red Fly Marketing. Their various divisions also play in the general fields of digital marketing and search-conscious web design.

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