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What is an Outlink?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 September 2016
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An outlink is HTML code on your site that allows for site visitors to access other sites. These are often simply called links. Each time people can click on a link on a site that takes them someplace else, specifically off your site, you’ve provided an outlink. There’s some question as to the value of outlinks. Sometimes people argue that they’re a problem because they take people off their sites. Others, especially in the search engine optimization (SEO) and content writing world, know that outlinks are an important reciprocal gesture.

The outlink needs to be distinguished from an inlink. The inlink is a hyperlink on someone else’s site that directs people to your page/pages. Essentially this means that every outlink you provide on your site is an inlink for someone else. A good ratio of outlinks and inlinks helps increase your site’s profile, but especially inlinks to your site help to increase your page ranking with search engines. However in many cases, if you won’t provide links to others on your page, they’re not so likely to provide you with links, so the outlink is an important marketing tool.

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One way to avoid the concern about people permanently leaving your site by following outlinks is to use specific coding that opens the link in a new page. This is a little more complex than the standard hyperlink HTML formula, but it can be worth the trouble because people have not left your page, and instead only opened a new window to view the outlink.

Your basic link looks like this: <a href ="http://www.wisegeek.com">wiseGEEK</a> which will display like this: wiseGEEK . An outlink that opens a new page has the addition of the words target="_blank" right after the website address and before the closing diagonal bracket (>). This additional code can be a handy resource if you want to keep people viewing your pages, but also refer them to other related sites.

Most people who’d like to exchange links with you are happy to do so, no matter how you write the code. It really doesn’t matter to them if the link opens a new page or completely takes people off your page. Therefore it makes good sense for your outlinks to open new pages, since the longer people are on your page, especially in content generated websites, the more likely they’ll also look at and visit any web sponsors, which can help support your page.

Another reason to provide outlinks is if you are citing web material. You’ll commonly see them on sites like Wikipedia. They are the scholarly way to back up and reference your material, and they also show that you have not plagiarized. If you’re writing scholarly works and citing other people at length, do consider including a bibliography with an outlink for any source that can be found on the Internet.

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djfunkyslick
Post 1

Great article! As a "newbie" I truly needed the most basic definition of both types of links and how they affected my site. Thank you!

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